Despite a brave start, Westmeath’s Allianz Football League Division Two campaign has ended in relegation and manager Tom Cribbin is thinking of dropping big players ahead of the Leinster Championship.
Following last Sunday’s loss to Roscommon, Westmeath boss Cribbin was disappointed with aspects of the Midlanders’ performance. “I’d say most of them gave everything,” Cribbin said. “A few big players just aren’t performing for us. I don’t know why or what is wrong. You need your big players to perform if you’re going to deliver.
“If you look at it, seeing young Killian Daly, a young player, as one of your best players. He is only into the game, you’re having Shane Dempsey in his first year coming on to win matches for you when you’ve senior players there - that is not on. This is not going to happen. These big players aren’t standing up. I don’t know why or what is going on with them?”
Cribbin is adamant that the majority of the Westmeath panel are putting everything on the line, but the Midlanders’ chief is worried following two successive relegations.
“You saw the other lads working. They put everything on the line. A lot of the smaller lads who are in general average players gave everything. A few of the big lads lay down. That is the trouble with this team.
“Lads who should be leading with their chest out being the men showing these young lads where to go. They are the ones who are killing this team. There are hard questions needing to be asked and answered in the next week. We might have to go on without a clatter of these players to start working on these players for the future.”
Westmeath carved goalscoring chances, but when Roscommon netted a second major, Cribbin’s charges just couldn’t recover.
“At that stage we were chasing the game. The problem was that we weren’t threatening inside. We had one young lad inside who was trying his heart out, the same as he did in Cavan. He probably couldn’t do it all on his own. John Connellan in the first half gave it everything. I took him off because he is not at full fitness, but he showed for the ball. He was a bit far out and made some wrong decisions, but he gave me everything.
“Young Ronan Foley is not long back, I took him off hoping these senior lads would stand up. They are fully fit and flying, but they didn’t take responsibility. We needed goals at the end - to go for the jugular, but those lads were happy to tap it over the bar.”
Roscommon were more clinical and ruthless according to Cribbin. “We had to go for it, the opposite happened with Roscommon - they went for it. They went for the jugular, we didn’t - that was the main difference.
“If our big lads cannot give us inspiration we will have to move on without them. It is going to be a tough road. One thing you can build with a solid foundation, but questions are going to have to be answered. We showed heart until the end. A lot of lads worked; they took heavy blows, but we just didn’t stand up near their goalmouth.”
Cribbin acknowledges that changes might now be made to the panel ahead of summer.
“We’ve to learn from this league campaign. I wouldn’t harp back about the Galway game; I think we learned more in the last four matches and what the real problem might be behind it all. Some of the big players mightn’t have the appetite or they might think they have a right to be on the pitch.
“We are going to have to develop a young team here to move forward from there.
“No games are easy. Armagh last year went down to Division Three, but got to the quarter final in the All Ireland. So we have to try to turn our season around. Tough questions have to be asked to see who is here for the battle.
“There has to be questions asked. I’m bitterly disappointed for the 99 per cent of the players who are putting the effort in. These lads are travelling long distances to training three times a week and doing core sessions and other stuff a few times. It is a huge, huge commitment from them to go out. It is tough on them and these are only young men.
“We were going to learn in this game. We needed to learn so that is why we threw so many lads in.”