Westmeath teams looking to kick-on in coming months

John Heslin has been a key man for Westmeath footballers this year. 
Photo: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

John Heslin has been a key man for Westmeath footballers this year. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Encouraged by a satisfactory Championship campaign, Westmeath footballers will be keen to develop further in 2016.

Tom Cribbin's team made a welcome Leinster final appearance, losing to Dublin in the provincial decider. Reaching that particular occasion had proved to be a journey sprinkled with fine wins over Louth, Wexford and neighbours Meath. That sweet success over the Royals, inspired by Kieran Martin and John Heslin, hinted at Westmeath's potential.

Unfortunately, in the subsequent summer matches with Dublin and Fermanagh the Midlanders just could not replicate the drive which agitated Meath. The round 4A qualifier loss to Fermanagh at Kingspan Breffni Park was a severe disappointment considering the strides Westmeath had taken. Having endured so many brutal beatings in 2014, a couple of O'Byrne Cup triumphs in January gave Westmeath a much-needed source of comfort.

Initially, performances and results in the Allianz Football League were adequate, but as the tempo increased Westmeath slipped to another relegation. Getting out of Division Three will be one of the main objectives for the season ahead.

Michael Ryan enjoyed a solid first campaign in charge of the Westmeath hurlers, who will also be keen to make an impact again in the coming months. Throughout the past five years Westmeath have introduced several young players to the inter-county arena and that policy is expected to continue. Ryan will be anxious to embark on a decent run in the Walsh Cup and Allianz Hurling League Division 2A, before a testing Leinster Senior Hurling Championship round robin series in May.

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