Round four of the Westmeath club championship is down for decision this weekend and things are hotting up in the race to secure a place in the knock-out stages. Before I take a closer look at the upcoming action I want to get my, by now annual, rant out of the way.
I am hoarse giving out about games being fixed on the busiest bank holiday weekend of the year. The August bank holiday weekend should in my opinion, and in the opinion of every other club footballer I have spoken to, be left free for players (and officials ) to get away for a break to Galway or elsewhere. There are enough weekends in the year to get games played. I would hate to see how we would manage if we were in a more successful county. At the very least if the games have to be played this weekend fix them for Friday evening and players would have the remainder of the weekend to get away for a few days if they so wished.
There is only one game down for decision on Friday evening with two games on Saturday and three games fixed for Sunday evening. That means the players involved with the six teams in action Sunday must sit around twiddling their thumbs until throw-in Sunday evening. I have spoken to players from almost every club in the county about this annual problem and all agree that such stupid timing of games only serves to irritate players. Then again who are we to be complaining- we’re only the players! Rant over.
Garrycastle should secure their place in the knockout stages when they meet Killucan in Moate at 7.45pm on Friday. Killucan are pointless so far and it is difficult to see them taking anything from the reigning champions who currently sit on five points.
On Saturday there are two interesting ties down for decision. Castledaly and Bunbrosna both badly need a win if they are to progress beyond the group stages. They meet in Cusack Park at 5.30pm. Castledaly were somewhat unlucky to be pipped at the post by Tyrrellspass last time out while Bunbrosna will have been lifted by their win over Killucan.
Castledaly are favourites and should oblige but will need to reproduce the form shown in the first half against Tyrrellspass. They would appear to have a greater spread of scorers than Bunbrosna who are heavily reliant on the boot of Peter Tormey. A win for Derek Heavin’s side could well set them up for a winner-take-all clash in the final round against Coralstown/Kinnegad for third spot in division A.
Coralstown/Kinnegad take on Tyrrellspass in Cusack Park at 7pm. Last year’s intermediate champions Coralstown/Kinnegad have four points in the bag while Tyrrellspass top the group on five points. Jack Cooney’s men have shown plenty of promise since their return to the senior ranks but with the likes of Ger Egan, the Glennons, and Martin Flanagan on board I expect the men from the Tidy Village to outscore the men in red and take a step close to booking a semi-final spot.
The Downs who are seeking their first points of the campaign in division B are meeting St Loman’s at a bad time. The Saints are bound to be hurting after surprisingly being held to a draw by St Malachy’s and are likely to be extra determined to get back to winning ways here. The Downs are very much in transition and avoiding relegation is their main priority at this stage but the town side should collect both points on offer.
Maryland and Mullingar Shamrocks (Cusack Park, 7pm ) could be the most interesting clash of the weekend. Maryland are unbeaten thus far but will face their stiffest test thus far when they take on last year’s beaten finalists.
Maryland’s defensive set-up is difficult to break down and Callum McCormac is a serious threat up front. The return of Denis Coroon should give the Mullingar side an edge in the midfield sector and if Kieran Gavin is recovered from injury he should be able to hold McCormack. It has the ingredients of an exciting encounter but I expect Shamrocks to collect both points on offer and join Maryland on six points.
The final tie of the weekend sees Athlone and St Malachy’s go head to head in Tang at 7pm. St Malachy’s will be hugely encouraged by their unexpected draw with St Loman’s in their last outing while we in Athlone will want to make amends for our poor showing against Maryland. We will need to improve our scoring return if we are to keep our hopes of making the knockout stages alive. The last day we only managed 0-2 from play. We certainly are in no position to take any team for granted and we know we are in for a right battle against a team that will fancy their chances of causing another upset. It will be closer than many people might expect but I’ll settle for a one point win.