This Sunday afternoon Westport will need to be at their best if they are going to claim their first Connacht Intermediate football championship when the Seasiders take on Leitrim outfit Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin's. Westport qualified for the final thanks to a hard-fought win over Galway champions Monivea Abbey by the narrowest of margins thanks to three late points from corner forward Lewis Cawley.
It has been a busy few weeks for the Westport men who faced into three games in the space of seven days, to win the Mayo final, and then had to go out again the following week to see off the Galway champions and book their place in this weekend's provincial showdown. Damien Loftus is the man in charge of that side, but he has plenty of generals on the field too. Fullback Kevin Kane put in a massive shift in their win over Monivea Abbey in the final four encounter, this laid the foundation for their narrow 0-8 to 0-7 victory. Of course the newly crowned footballer of the year Lee Keegan will have to have a massive influence if his side are to have any chance of a victory.
Others such as Shane Scott, the aforementioned Cawley, Phil Keegan, and Fionn McDonagh, who was man of that match in their county final win over Kiltimagh, will be expected to step up again on Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon. Their opponents booked their place in this Sunday's showdown with a win over Sligo champions Molaise a fortnight ago. That victory came on the back of a narrow win over Drumkeerin by a single point in the Leitrim county final. Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin's were favourites to win this championship, but Paul Prior, in his first year in charge of the side, will be glad to have made no errors in getting it right.
The Leitrim men will be relying on experienced heads such as Phillip Farragher and Wayne McKeown to drive them on this Sunday. They will also be looking for man of the match from their county final win, Dean McGovern, to put in another big showing and will hope that Mark McGrory, who kicked the winning point in the county decider when the pressure was on, steps up again if needed against the Covies. For Westport this represents a great chance to lay down a serious marker before the move back up to senior grade next year, and if they get over this hump, it leaves just one hour of football between them and the date in Croke Park next year, and a chance to become the first Mayo side to claim that All Ireland Intermediate Club football championship.