That most important element which even the best prepared and most successful teams need, a sprinkling of luck, was the only thing missing from Westmeath’s performance against Louth in Pairc Tailteann, Navan last Sunday.
Pat Flanagan’s side had dominated much of the second half and looked to have booked their ticket to a glamour meeting with Dublin in Croke Park only for Louth to scramble a goal six minutes into injury time to steal a one point victory.
Westmeath still had a chance of a late equalizer from inside the 45 but Heslin’s effort drifted agonisingly wide. Having kicked 0-5 in a man of the match display it would have being fitting if Heslin could have rescued a draw. When your luck is not in, it’s not in. Callum McCormack had moments earlier crashed his effort off the crossbar.
A big talking point in the aftermath was the injury sustained by David Glennon which went unpunished. Glennon appeared to be caught with a box by Gerard Hoey yet no free was awarded despite the game being held up for several minutes as Glennon was stretchered off to hospital.
Westmeath began brightly with Heslin leading by example at midfield and kicking three early points. His side registered nine first-half wides and it was Peter Fitzpatrick’s men who held a two point half-time lead.
Determined to end their losing streak against Louth, Flanagan’s men upped the ante after the break and points from Sharry, Heslin, Bannon, David Glennon, and James Dolan put them into a lead they fully deserved. They were guilty however of hesitancy at times up front which allowed Louth to remain within reach and ultimately that is what cost them dearly in the end.
Despite the result there was plenty to take encouragement from in this performance. The midfield pairing of Heslin and Bannon enjoyed the upper hand for much of the game against two wily opponents. Paul Sharry was a colossus at centre back while up front James Dolan, Kieran Martin, and Michael Ennis worked hard throughout and Callum McCormack looked dangerous when introduced. Ger Egan and the two Glennons have had, and will have, more productive days at the office but their efforts couldn’t be faulted.
The qualifiers now beckon for Flanagan’s men and based on this performance no team will be too keen to draw Westmeath. If we can get our forward unit to be more decisive and clinical then we have no reason to fear any team.