O’Byrne Shield semi-final
An understrength Westmeath outfit were comprehensively put to the sword by a more experienced Laois outfit in Cusack Park on Sunday last. The O’Byrne Cup and Shield are all about unearthing new talent which might be of use for the upcoming league.
With that in mind, it’s unlikely that Tomas and co will have lost any sleep about the result of this game, though the overall performance will be of greater concern.
In truth this was a game of two parts as opposed to two halves. During the first part which lasted about a quarter of an hour Westmeath were impressive and dominated. In the second part, which consisted of the rest of the game, Westmeath were outplayed in most sectors but particularly around midfield. Laois took complete control of the game and the Lakelanders’ challenge ominously faded into oblivion.
Tomas will be pleased with the way his charges roared into action in impressive fashion in the opening quarter, notching up 1-7 by the sixteenth minute. During this time, the maroon and whites put together some impressive moves. With wind advantage, mid-field was competing well and the forward line was making good use of a decent supply of ball.
The overall performances of Thomas McDaniel and Enda Leonard will also have pleased the Kerry native. McDaniel belied his tender years to finish with an impressive 1-2 while Leonard chipped in with 3 good points from play. Rory McGowan got on the score-sheet in the opening minute and despite being replaced in the second half will improve with experience. Francis Spollen, who kicked an outlandish point from a sideline ball, did well at times but like the rest of the forwards was forced to rely on scraps in the second half.
Laois now face Luke Dempsey’s Carlow this weekend in the Shield final. Westmeath’s sole focus at this stage is the opening league game on February 1 at home to Galway. If Westmeath are to hold their own in the ultra-competitive surroundings of division one, it is vital that they get as many of last year’s team as possible back in action soon. A number of new recruits are sure to play their part in the upcoming league campaign, but if nothing else, recent outings have shown that without our more experienced players on show, we will inevitably struggle, especially against the top teams in the land.