By Paul O’Donovan
Westmeath hurlers have a great chance to bounce back to Division 1 hurling when they take on Down in the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A final in Semple Stadium, Thurles, this Saturday evening (4.45pm).
If anyone thinks this Saturday’s game against Down will be easy they only have to look back three weeks to when Down arrived in TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar and were worthy two-point winners over the Lake County men, 1-18 to 1-16, in a vital game in the League.
Joe Fortune’s side will be looking to bring some good form going into this final. Since Westmeath lost to Down, they travelled to Kildare and won, a game they had to win, before beating Kerry at home last Saturday, in the semi-final. In truth Westmeath have had to win their last two games, and now they have to go out and win again and bring home some league silverware.
Semple Stadium is a wonderful venue for hurling and the big wide open pitch and fine surface should suit Westmeath who have shown in the past that when they are on form they can hurl with the best.
Westmeath were boosted last Saturday by a return to form of Niall Mitchell and a return from injury by Davy Glennon. Both players scored crucial goals in Westmeath’s 2-18 to 0-21 victory over the Kingdom. Killian Doyle was on form again from placed balls, but in defence Westmeath were solid too, with Tommy Doyle strong in defence while Darragh Egerton was once again Mr Reliable.
Saturday’s game at Semple Stadium will be followed by the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 decider between Waterford and Cork at 7.15pm.
A win in Thurles is vital for Joe Fortune’s side who want to return to playing the big teams again, and it would be a vital boost before the Lake County play Kilkenny at home in the Leinster Championship on Saturday, April 16.