A disappointing defeat to NUI Maynooth ended Westmeath’s interest in the O’Byrne Cup following a hard-fought encounter at Moate last Sunday.
Victories over Wicklow and Longford ensured Westmeath entered the tie in a decent position to secure a semi-final berth, but the Students were gritty throughout a tight match. Evan O’Carroll’s late point sealed a deserved success for NUI Maynooth, who were inspired by Ronan Kennedy. Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin admitted the Midlanders’ slow start was costly.
“We didn’t play in the first half,” Cribbin reflected. “It was a bit like the other night (against Longford ), the second half performance was 10 times better, it was very spirited. At the moment we are trying to clear up injuries. We have three or four playing with colleges too so we were low on numbers regarding experienced players.”
On January 31, Westmeath host Kildare in an important league opener and Cribbin is looking forward to the challenge: “We will get a lot of players back for the next couple of weeks so we will get really focused on our first league match at home,” he said. “Every game in Division 3 will be tough, there are so many derby games in it with Offaly, Kildare, and Longford.
“Sligo will be tough, Tipperary are a very good young team with a lot of underage success, Clare too. It will be very tough to get out of the division, four or five teams will think that they can do that. Every game is going to be important.”