Westmeath hurlers will be taking nothing for granted when they make the trip to Ruislip to take on London in the preliminary round of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers on Saturday at 3.30pm. Brian Hanley has stressed that London will be no pushovers with home advantage and the addition of several new players to their ranks an obvious concern for the Westmeath manager.
Westmeath of course were beaten by Antrim in the Leinster championship while London lost out to Carlow on a score of 4-17 to 2-13. The economic downturn here has been a major boost to Gaelic games in the English capital with numbers and indeed standards improving significantly.
The London footballers showed with their win over Sligo that the days of taking London for granted are over for the time being at least. The hurlers will be out to create their own bit of history too so the Lake County will need to bring their A-game if they are to progress.
The Westmeath cause has not been helped by a number of injury concerns. Philip Gilsenan has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee injury. Aonghus Clarke is also ruled out having broken a finger in a club league match last week. John Shaw and Gary Greville are also major doubts.
The prize on offer is a home meeting with either Waterford or Offaly which is a major carrot. It willtake a big effort but Westmeath’s young squad should have enough in hand to make it a winning venture overseas.