Westmeath footballers made a satisfying start in the O’Byrne Cup by defeating Wicklow 1-14 to 0-13 at Bray.
It will be a hectic week for Tom Cribbin’s team as they faced Longford at St Loman’s, Mullingar last night and are also scheduled to play NUI Maynooth at Kinnegad on Sunday. Cribbin was satisfied with how a Paul Sharry and John Connellan-inspired Westmeath performed when dealing with Wicklow’s determined challenge.
“The game will stand to us big time,” Cribbin admitted. “Every time at this time of the year are so looking forward to playing football to get going. We are all looking forward to the new year. Keen to make an impact in Division Three of the Allianz Football League, Cribbin, who was encouraged by the under 21s Hastings Cup triumph over Roscommon, feels the Midlanders are developing.
“It was about being cute, we need to start being more aware on the pitch. If we can do that I think we can go some place. It is early days yet, but we need to stay injury free, we need to get everyone back to full fitness. They will enjoy these matches and the league then. It was our first time on a pitch in six weeks, we had been doing a bit on the astro 3G pitch in Mullingar. It was heavy on the lads, but the pitch was in super condition so it was great for the lads to play on green grass.
“We have to be very careful not to pick up any injuries because playing three games in the one week on heavy ground is tough. We have to be very careful because the league starts in a few weeks time.”
Athlone and St Loman’s enjoyed lengthy runs in the Leinster Intermediate and Senior club championships so Cribbin and his selectors ‘insisted’ that those players rested in December.
“We didn’t bring a lot of the Athlone or Loman’s players back because they were playing until November. They were going one year solid without a break, no holidays, nothing. We took the chance by giving them the month of December off. We insisted they take it, some of them wanted to train, and we had to put some of them straight into a game because of different things.”