Things have become a lot clearer after round four of the Westmeath football championship as the race for a place in the business end of the championship hots up. The two Mullingar sides continue to set the pace and remain unbeaten. Regardless of the result of their final outing Shamrocks and St Loman’s are already assured of a semi-final spot.
There has been some confusion this year about whether score difference and the head to head rule had been done away with. The answer is that they are still in use but a team cannot be eliminated from the championship on either count. Score difference and head to head will only be used to determine the pecking order for the knockout stages should two or three teams finish level on points.
The reigning champions Mullingar Shamrocks, currently on eight points, will top group A even in the unlikely event of them losing to The Downs in their final group game. Athlone, who enjoyed a morale-boosting four-point win over Maryland last Saturday, can secure second place in the group if they beat Bunbrosna in the final outing. If Bunbrosna win, then Bun and The Downs will progress to the knockout stages.
If Shamrocks beat The Downs, which looks likely, and Bunbrosna lose to Athlone then a playoff game will be needed to determine whether Bun and The Downs will advance. Following their defeat to Athlone, Maryland must beat C/F/C/W in their final outing if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.
In group B, highflying St Loman’s who had two goals to spare over Kinnegad last weekend are safely through to the last four. Garrycastle sent out a stern reminder that they are not a spent force with a 20-point win over Killucan and they can secure second place with a win over Kinnegad in their final outing. Tyrrellspass who impressed in their 2-13 to 1-10 win over Castledaly are best placed to secure the third spot in their group with a final outing against Killucan to come.
Castledaly must beat the table toppers if they are to have any chance of making the quarter-finals. If they do beat the Saints, and I certainly wouldn’t back against them doing so especially with Paul Sharry now suspended following his sending off, it could mean them and Tyrrellspass having to meet again to decide who gets third spot in the group.
All will be revealed in the vital final round of group games which are down for decision next weekend.