Second best not an option as Garrycastle head to Croke Park

The clock is ticking. Before we know it the ball will be thrown in and the 2012 AIB All-Ireland final will be underway and if a new name will be on the silverware by full time remains to be seen.

Crossmaglen have seen and done it all before. The reigning All-Ireland champions are in search of a sixth title, and for either side second best is not an option.

Westmeath’s appearances on a final day in Croke Park are sadly few and far between but who’s to say Saturday’s event won’t see a new dawn for Garrycastle and other clubs spread across the Lake County.

To their credit the sporting fraternity in the county have never had a defeatist attitude, preferring to concentrate on the positives following a defeat in the hope of going one better next time out.

Take a look at Crossmaglen Rangers a club that could have gone under during the Troubles when part of their grounds were taken over by the British army and it was common for helicopters to land on the pitch while a game was in progress. Tomorrow, St Patrick’s Day, they go in search of their sixth All-Ireland title, a lesson to be learned for any struggling club. They have 39 county senior titles and nine Ulster championships.

As the Advertiser was going to press there was still a wait on the result of a last minute appeal for the young captain Stephen Kernan who was sent off in the semi-final with Dr Crokes, but already his team has been planning without him.

Garrycastle will be concentrating on their game and will not be distracted as they report a clean bill of health. Gary Dolan was troubled by his hamstring but has had cryotherapy in Ennis and the talented forward is fit and ready to go.

Regardless of the outcome it is a wonderful achievement for a club that has only been around for 30 years, and playing senior football for a little over 10, to be within an hour of being the first team from Westmeath to be battling for an All-Ireland title.

Considering Crossmaglen Rangers, some might regard this as the battle of David and Goliath but we all know how that ended. The beauty of sport is the unpredictability. It’s a final and anything can happen.

The town of Athlone has always loved its sporting heroes and as the country celebrates its patron saint, the heart of Ireland will be on tenterhooks from when the ball is thrown in at 3.45pm until referee and Clare man, Rory Hickey sounds his final whistle some time around 5pm.

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