Encouraged by Saturday’s Allianz Hurling League Division 2A Final win over Carlow, Westmeath manager Michael Ryan hopes the Midlanders will continue to progress in the coming weeks and months.
Westmeath can now earn promotion to Division 1B by defeating the loser of Kerry and Laois in a playoff scheduled for Saturday, April 9.
At O’Connor Park on Saturday, Westmeath, prompted by Brendan Murtagh’s seven-point haul, produced a solid defensive display to claim silverware on a 0-10 to 0-8 scoreline that enthused Ryan: “We are thrilled because it was some battle,” Ryan admitted. “We had it all to do in the second half against the wind. The lads played outstandingly and they did well. I’m delighted for anybody involved with hurling in Westmeath.
“In Westmeath there are pockets of hurling where they are very serious about it. I’m just happy for the panel of players, who worked so hard in the second half with a gale force wind and rain against them. They never gave up, they fought until the very end, we are thrilled to win it.”
Kerry host Laois at Tralee on Saturday evening where Ryan will be an interested spectator: “We will go to have a look at that next weekend,” Ryan said. “I expect us to play with a bit more freedom. I think the pressure is off after winning. I think we can hurl now with a bit of freedom. We have two weeks to prepare for it. There is no doubt that it will be a formidable task, but I think we are well capable of doing it.
“Conditions were dreadful, I think the people that weren’t here wouldn’t realise how difficult it was. It was a tribute to both teams. Carlow played very well out there, it was a great battle. It was so so difficult, but we played with our heart. I thought we used the ball quite well so it was a tremendous victory.”