Lots of close contests expected in round three of football championship

Round three of the Westmeath senior football championship takes place this weekend and there are few if any certainties in what should be an interesting selection of games. The Downs, Garrycastle, Castledaly, Maryland, Shamrocks, and St Loman’s have each been given the favourites tag ahead of their respective games and while they may all oblige, with question marks hanging over most teams, I expect a few upsets over the weekend.

St Loman’s were the standout team in round two with their 10-point demolition of Garrycastle a clear message of intent, while Tyrrellspass also flexed their muscles. Will the Saints be able to reach a similar level of performance against Killucan? Will Garrycastle be able to cope without so many regulars and bounce back to winning ways or can Tyrrellspass capitalise on the ’Castle’s present difficulties?

Can Athlone spring a surprise against the reigning county champions and can The Downs, Castledaly, and Maryland each take a step closer to the knockout stages? All of these questions will be answered by Sunday evening in what promises to be a hectic weekend of activity with a full round of intermediate and junior championship games also down for decision.

Cusack Park hosts a double header on Saturday evening with the meeting of The Downs and C/F/C/W at 5.30pm followed by the heavyweight meeting of Garrycastle and Tyrrellspass. C/F/C/W have been badly hampered by losing so many of last year’s successful intermediate winning side and The Downs look set to get their second win of the campaign.

In the second game there is no doubt that this is a big game for both clubs. Garrycastle will take to the field without a host of regulars while Tom Coffey will be hoping his side can reproduce the form which saw them bag five goals against Kinnegad.

James Dolan has ventured to Boston for a few weeks and just as Mark McHugh proved a huge loss to Donegal, Dolan will be badly missed by Garrycastle. Aidan Browne, Seanie Donoghue, Paul Dillon, and Conor Cosgrove are others who will be on the absent list.

If Dessie’s influence is curtailed one wonders can Garrycastle survive? Yet for all the question marks hanging over Garrycastle they should still have just about enough to see them through. In Mark McCallan, Doran Harte, and John Gaffey they have three of the best backs in the county and Cathal Mullan isn’t beaten too often so they are unlikely to start leaking goals. It is a great opportunity for Tyrrellspass to get one over on Michael McDermott’s men but I expect Garrycastle to dig out a result.

Castledaly make the short trip to Moate on Saturday at 7pm to take on Coralstown/Kinnegad. There is never much between these two sides but Castledaly would seem to be in a better place confidence-wise at the minute and that could prove the difference. I expect them to have three or four points to spare.

On Sunday St Loman’s would appear to be a safe bet to beat Killucan when they meet in The Downs at 2.30pm. The town side are moving well this year and Declan Rowley is unlikely to allow complacency to set in. Anything other than a comfortable Loman’s win would be a major shock.

Reigning champions Mullingar Shamrocks will be expected to have little difficulty in accounting for Athlone but we won’t be going to Cusack Park to make up the numbers. There wasn’t too much between the sides in a recent league outing. Consistency has been a major problem with Athlone in recent seasons which is not surprising given the huge turnover of players. Shamrocks deserve to be favourites but if we do click however we are well capable of causing problems for them.

The final game of the weekend is the meeting of Bunbrosna and Maryland in Ballymore. Bun will be without Kevin Tormey for the foreseeable future and he is a loss to them. Maryland tick a lot more boxes and should prevail.

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