Derry finished with a flourish to claim a critical Allianz Hurling League Division 2A success over Westmeath at Owenbeg.
Manager Michael Ryan was disappointed Westmeath failed to take anything from their trip north.
“With three or four minutes to go we were three points up and we had missed a couple of chances to put us in a very good position,” Ryan reflected. “We had worked very hard to put ourselves into that position. In the last two or three minutes our concentration levels seemed to go and we are very disappointed.”
Ryan was satisfied by aspects of Westmeath’s display. “We had some good performances right through the field to put us in a winning position. We were disappointed because it is an uphill battle now we have to go to Kerry and we play Carlow too. They are two very formidable teams, we have to win every game to stay in contention in the league.”
Westmeath’s next clash against Kerry will be defining according to Ryan, who hopes to have Derek McNicholas and Aonghus Clarke available again following injury and illness. “We should have Derek McNicholas, Aonghus Clarke, and Niall O’Brien back in a few weeks which will strengthen the team and panel. It won’t be easy because Kerry are a formidable team, it will be a real battle.”
Despite the setback in Owenbeg Ryan feels that Westmeath are developing.
“We have improved, but we still left Derry with nothing. We thought we had a great chance to win the game. In fairness to the players they worked hard throughout the game, the attitude and commitment were good.”
With no fixture scheduled until March 8, Ryan reckons it will give his panel a chance to refocus. “It will give the lads a chance to get fit and to refocus again. Everybody will get a chance to clear up the niggles. Carlow are top of the division with four points, they will take a bit of catching. Kerry are doing well too.”
A Westmeath success in Tralee would put them back into serious promotion contention.