Sunday’s Westmeath Senior Football Championship final promises to be an interesting encounter, as a rapidly improving Castledaly seek to take St Loman’s scalp at Cusack Park.
It has been a hugely productive campaign for Castledaly, who have made significant strides under manager John Donnellan’s supervision in 2015. A year ago Castledaly survived a tricky relegation scrap before eventually preserving their senior status. That reprieve injected them with confidence, and Donnellan has helped Castledaly generate momentum. Reaching this decider owes much to the resilience and resourcefulness Castledaly have demonstrated.
St Loman’s, though, are a crafty team spearheaded by John Heslin, who remains capable of producing in these type of assignments. Heslin is a competent footballer, who played such a central role in Westmeath’s journey to the Leinster SFC final. Without Heslin, due to a foot injury, Westmeath suffered in a round four qualifier against Fermanagh at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Heslin’s absence deprived the Midlanders of a renowned score taker, and Castledaly’s plans will be focused on attempting to restrict his influence. Loman’s possess plenty of willing attackers up front too, such as Shane Dempsey, so Castledaly will need to make a good start to this game. Castledaly’s adventure ensures they enter this fixture encouraged and hopeful about their chances of claiming a county title.
In 2013, Loman’s were perched on the summit of the Westmeath game with Heslin and Paul Sharry influential figures. During the group stages that year Castledaly enjoyed a surprise win over an understrength Loman’s, who were crowned champions months later. The teams collided again in 2014 as Loman’s held on to record a 2-15 to 2-8 triumph over Castledaly, who subsequently ended up in a relegation battle.
Heslin was instrumental for Loman’s in that joust, concluding the hour with a 1-7 haul, while Dempsey chipped in with four points also. Since then, Castledaly have proven themselves to be a difficult outfit to beat, with the 0-18 to 1-12 semi-final result against Tyrrellspass highly impressive. Castledaly will want to be similarly industrious as Loman’s are a potent team when in the groove.