By Damien Maher
Westmeath Senior footballers will go into next Sunday’s Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-final at Croke Park fully focused on delivering their best performance of the season – and that is precisely what it’s going to take to get past a strong Kildare side.
Manager Jack Cooney agreed it’s a big occasion and a big challenge for his Lake County side, who continued preparations with a training camp in Athlone last Saturday. He described next Sunday’s semi-final, a repeat of last year’s encounter at the same venue, as an “interesting and intriguing” battle.
“Kildare are a Division 1 side this year and they will quite rightly feel they have moved on from where they were last season. We are under no illusions about the challenge that awaits us,” he remarked.
Kildare dismantled newly-promoted Louth on a 2-22 to 0-12 score line in the quarter-final and it was a chilling reminder that Westmeath will need to be on top of their game next weekend. That said, Cooney’s men showed encouraging signs in their victory over Longford (3-13 to 0-14), a result that avenged their earlier league loss against their near neighbours.
“We had a good few weeks post league and a lot of good preparation went into our quarter-final clash against Longford. We were aware we needed to improve. The challenge is to progress all aspects of your play as the championship moves on; you need to advance all standards and that is what we are aiming for,” he remarked.