Garrycastle and St Loman’s secure semi-final spots

With the final round of group games now out of the way the shape of the knock-out stage of the Westmeath club championship has become a lot clearer. Despite being held to a draw by Bunbrosna last weekend, reigning champions Garrycastle top division A to secure a semi-final berth. In division B St Loman’s win over Maryland saw both sides finish their campaign on eight points but the Saints progress directly to the semi-final on the head to head rule.

Castledaly’s emphatic 1-11 to 0-4 win over Coralstown/ Kinnegad last Sunday sees them through to the quarter-final where an interesting tussle with Maryland awaits. The winner of that game takes on Garrycastle in the first of the semi-finals.

Mullingar Shamrocks’ facile win over Athlone was enough to book them a place in the last six and they can now look forward to a quarter-final meeting with Tyrrellspass. St Loman’s await the winner in the second semi-final.

The Downs win over St Malachy’s last weekend was enough to keep them safe from relegation in a year in which they looked likely contenders for a relegation play-off. Instead it is St Malachy’s and Killucan who will battle it out for the right to remain in senior football for 2013.

From an Athlone point of view we were hugely disappointed at our showing last weekend. Having certainly made progress under Tom Coffey this year our dismal showing last Sunday leaves a bad taste to the year. A good opening round win over The Downs was followed by an encouraging performance against St Loman’s which yielded a draw but we underperformed against Maryland, St Malachy’s and again last Sunday. Like a host of other clubs throughout the county we have been badly hit with emigration and were down six central players from the team which took the field against the same opposition 12 months ago. It is not easy to absorb that level of loss.

Our one positive from last Sunday’s game was the performance of our youngest player Daniel Lynam at wing back. We have a fair bit of rebuilding work to do in the next few years before we will be genuine contenders for silverware. The likes of Daniel, Ray Connellan, and Brian Gill are still in their teens and will have benefitted greatly from the experience gained this year.

At this stage I feel it is Garrycastle’s championship to lose. The beaten All-Ireland finalists now have time to regroup ahead of their semi-final and when Dessie and co return I can’t see anyone stopping them.

Mullingar Shamrocks, despite their easy win last weekend don’t seem to motoring as well as they were this time last year. I still fancy them to account for Tyrrellspass in the quarter-final and neighbours St Loman’s in the semi-final but expect them to come up short yet again in the final.

I expect Castledaly to have too much firepower for Maryland in their quarter-final. Derek Heavin’s side are motoring well and will also push Garrycastle close in the semi-final. Ultimately though The Castle appear to be a bit ahead of the chasing pack for the time being at least and are deserving favourites to retain their title yet again.


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