This weekend is one of vital importance for all involved in Westmeath hurling, with both the seniors and minors in championship action. On Saturday evening at 7pm our highly rated minor team take on neighbours Offaly in Tullamore in the Leinster quarter-final. On Sunday all attention will be focused on Dr Cullen Park where the seniors face Carlow in a difficult opening game.
This is one of the most talented minor teams ever to come out of the county and hopes will be high that they can edge out Offaly and book a place in the semi-final. Offaly however will be tough nut to crack especially on home soil and this game has the potential to be a right cracker.
Offaly have already recorded a comfortable win over Carlow while Westmeath suffered a narrow two point defeat to reigning all-Ireland champions Kilkenny.
Ray Gavin’s side were slow out of the blocks against Kilkenny and trailed by nine points at the break. It will be vital that we don’t show Offaly the same respect and take the game to them from the start.
A large Westmeath following is expected in Tullamore on Saturday evening and if we can reproduce the second half showing against The Cats then we have to be in with a great chance of advancing.
On Sunday our seniors under new manager Brian Hanley make the long journey to Dr Cullen Park and will be up against it. Carlow had four points to spare when the sides met in the league but Westmeath’s preparations have been far from ideal. A fruitless league campaign saw them part with manager Kevin Martin and the appointment of Athenry man Brian Hanley as interim manager.
Hanley has had little time to organise his side though he has received a boost with the return of Paul Greville to the fold.
Carlow hurling has made significant strides forward in recent years and with home advantage the bookies have them installed as hot favourites. However the Westmeath lads will be more than anxious to restore some pride after their disastrous league campaign and with the likes of Brendan Murtagh, Greville, Mitchell, and McNicholas in their ranks they are well capable of upsetting the odds. Galway await the winners.