It is a hectic week for Westmeath footballers, who play three matches in seven days in the Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup.
Louth defeated Westmeath by 1-9 to 0-11 at TEG Cusack Park on Sunday, while Westmeath faced Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park last night (Wednesday ). Next weekend Westmeath conclude their group fixtures with a clash against NUI Maynooth at Pairc Ciaran in Athlone.
Despite losing against a spirited Louth outfit, Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin was satisfied with aspects of the Midlanders’ play: “I was happier with the second-half performance, in the first half we looked very lethargic,” Cribbin said in an interview with Midlands 103 Sport. “We made a lot of mistakes, we had a few chances that we didn’t take in particular a very good goal chance. That is part of it, but you have to look at the positives.
“All over the pitch, I thought lads worked hard, but we probably just weren’t clinical enough. Louth kicked a lot of wides too, so they will know that they can improve. It was the first competitive game of the year, probably a step up for some of the new lads, just to get used to the pace at inter-county level, but they did well.”
Cribbin feels that the Westmeath panel is developing nicely ahead of their Allianz Football League Division Four campaign: “All competitive games only bring you on,” Cribbin stated about Westmeath’s busy January schedule. “We would have liked to have got a result against Louth, but that is life. We will get a look at a lot more lads. The panel is decent at the moment, there are a lot of good young lads that performed well towards the end of the Championship last year.
“They had no League or O’Byrne Cup matches under their belt. So it is all new to them, particularly doing a lot of weights, it is a huge step up for all these lads around 20, 21, 22 years of age.”
Meanwhile, Antrim produced a powerful second half display to defeat Westmeath hurlers by 1-18 to 0-12 at Kinnegad. Antrim led by 0-10 to 0-9 at the break before completely dominating after the restart.
“The second-half performance was very disappointing right around the pitch, we just never showed enough desire,” Westmeath manager Michael Ryan admitted. “We went away from the things that had stood us in good stead over the last two years. Overall we are very, very disappointed with the second-half performance.”
On Sunday Westmeath face DCU at Kinnegad. “The next game is an important game, we are playing DCU, that won’t be easy,” Ryan said. “We played DCU in a challenge before Christmas, they were absolutely flying. The Walsh Cup is ultimately about finding a few new players and getting fellas back to fitness. We are missing five or six key players with the colleges, but I wouldn’t be using that as an excuse.”