What a difference a year makes. Hard to believe that a little over a year ago there were strong fears throughout the county that Westmeath were in real danger of dropping to division 3. Pat Flanagan’s belief in his side proved well founded as they recorded wins over Galway, Monaghan, and Derry to retain their place in division 2 against the odds.
This season maintaining division 2 status would again have been enough to satisfy most Lake County supporters. Not only have they managed to do that but they are the only team in any division to remain unbeaten heading into the final round and are assured of topflight football next season with a game to spare.
Their latest heroic performance saw them edge out Armagh in a cold and windy Cusack Park last Sunday in front of a large and vocal home support. Yet again they trailed at the break, this time by five points. Yet the self-belief and will to win which is becoming a hallmark of this group of players again came to the fore as they drew level within seven minutes of the restart. Both sides edged ahead at various stages from there to the finish (the sides were level on nine occasions ) but it was a John Heslin free that proved the difference in the end.
A draw was enough to secure promotion for Westmeath but Aaron Kernan’s late free drifted wide to ensure the home side bagged both points. The win and ensuing promotion undoubtedly warmed up the hearts of the sizable home support but it was the quality of the performance that put the icing on the cake.
David Duffy in particular put in a fine performance in the middle of the park. The big Shandonagh man has blown hot and cold over the past few years when given his chance but if he can maintain this level of performance he will be a huge asset to Westmeath for the remainder of the year. Denis Glennon also played a key role in the win kicking four points and providing a constant outlet up front while Dessie Dolan marked his introduction with two fine points.
Westmeath’s last league game is away to Derry on April 7 and they could easily face the same opposition in the division 2 league decider. With two rounds of the club championship pencilled in for April 14 and 21 it promises to be a very busy month for Pat Flanagan’s men.