Pat Flanagan will have been pleased with the manner in which his side helped themselves to an 11-point win over a limited Carlow side in Cusack Park last Sunday. The hosts were full value for their win, the prize for which is a Leinster quarter-final meeting with Dublin.
With the throw-in delayed due to ticketing problems, Westmeath wasted little time in asserting their superiority helping themselves to a three-point lead before the visitors opened their account with a goal to level matters.
Dessie Dolan and John Heslin edged Westmeath back in front and by this stage the gulf in class was clear to see. Kieran Martin found the net twice before the break to give his side a comfortable 2-8 to 1-3 half-time lead.
Brendan Murphy who was Carlow’s sole shining light, kicked the opening two points of the half but there was never any fear of a heroic comeback. The home side was not in generous mood and 10 minutes into the second half the lively James Dolan bagged his side’s third goal.
In the end 11 points was a fair reflection of the gulf in class between the two sides. The shoe will be on the other foot in a fortnight’s time when Westmeath will be rank outsiders against the reigning champions. Yet with all of the pressure and expectation on the Dubs, Westmeath are not without hope of causing a massive upset.
If it is to happen they will have to stop Dublin scoring goals and on that front they will be disappointed to have conceded against Carlow. John Heslin will have to raise his game around the middle as well if the dream is to become a reality. David Duffy in fairness has stepped up to the plate and can hopefully maintain his good form.
Our forward line will test any defence when on song. Ger Egan, Callum McCormack, and Denis Glennon will all have to raise their game a notch or two against the Metropolitans while Dessie will once again have to hit five or six points if we are to reach a match-winning score.
With the game fixed for a 7pm throw-in on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend it promises to be a great occasion in Croker. It was done in 2004 at the same stage and whether it can be done again this year remains to be seen. With the spirit that is in the squad at present I expect them to put up a decent fight - even if Dublin’s superior physicality ought to see them through.