Heslin’s return a welcome boost as Flanagan’s men bid to silence critics

John Heslin has returned from the Australian Football League

John Heslin has returned from the Australian Football League

Pat Flanagan hit back at his critics, Tom Farrell rejected misleading reports in the national media about the state of the county’s finances, and we were nicely beaten by Wicklow in a recent challenge match.

At a time when there haven’t been too many good news stories connected with Westmeath’s senior football team it was a doubly welcome boost when talented John Heslin unexpectedly turned his back on a fledgling AFL career and returned home recently. One swallow doesn’t make a summer and while his presence will certainly be a boost to Pat Flanagan’s men it would be naive to think he can transform our fortunes at senior level singlehandedly.

The return of the talented 19-year-old St Loman’s clubman is timely given that our u21s face Carlow in the Leinster quarter-final next Wednesday night. Luke Dempsey’s side impressively accounted for Wicklow in the opening round this week but with Heslin on board Westmeath will be expecting to progress to the semi-final.

In the meantime however all focus and attention will be on round three of the national football league when Westmeath entertain Galway in Cusack Park on Sunday. Following our two opening round defeats and more importantly the manner of those defeats, Westmeath supporters will be hoping for a much improved performance.

Galway under new manager Alan Mulholland sit on three points but are far from world-beaters. They enjoyed an impressive opening round win away to Derry but were less than convincing in their home draw with Louth.

If Westmeath are to avoid relegation, which seem a long shot, they simply must collect both points on offer here. Denis Glennon and Darragh Daly are both expected to be available for Sunday’s clash while Ger Egan is unlikely to feature just yet.

Galway will be boosted by the return of Padraig Joyce and Sean Armstrong to full training this week as well as the return of Damien Burke and Joe Bergin. Whether or not these feature on Sunday remains to be seen but it shows the strength in depth which Mulholland has at his disposal.

If Westmeath had everybody available to them I would expect them to run Galway close and maybe turn them over but minus the Garrycastle contingent as well as others and it is difficult to be optimistic. Like most supporters I would settle with an improved performance at this stage and hope our u21s do the business on Wednesday night.

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