By Paul O’Donovan
It was a very proud Joe Fortune who spoke to the media after Westmeath had beaten Meath in the opening round of the Kehoe Cup senior hurling competition last Sunday in Dunganny, Co. Meath.
It wasn’t the fact that Westmeath had won the game by eight points that pleased Fortune, it was the fact that so many young players had a got a chance in the maroon and white jersey and had performed admirably.
In particular Fortune is interested in developing young Westmeath hurlers as he stated after the game, “I’m very pleased with that start. I am happy that we got a lot of game time into so many players today, and a lot of young guys showed up well. I wouldn’t be doing my job right if I was picking the same team that was there last year. We need to look at developing young players that have played well in the local club championship. Jack Gillen stood up well today and he got a good 40 minutes into his legs at this level. We had two debutants today. Eamonn Cunneen made his debut today, a player I have been very impressed with. We realise there is development there in these young players but we have to get better, our hurling has to be sharper and we don’t benchmark ourselves on today. But as it is my first match in charge of Westmeath, I was happy the players got a run out, happy we got the win, and I was very aware coming here today that this was my first game in charge and it was important from that perspective,” said Fortune.