Westmeath spurn their chances – Louth ride their luck

It happened over the weekend, two teams missing out because they couldn’t make the most of their chances. Chelsea were the beneficiaries in one of the games, Louth seniors in the other.

It happened over the weekend, two teams missing out because they couldn’t make the most of their chances. Chelsea were the beneficiaries in one of the games, Louth seniors in the other.

The stats show that Bayern Munich had most possession over the first 90 minutes of the Champions League final and created the greater number of chances, but because they could convert only one of them - and then let Chelsea in for an equaliser - they were forced into extra-time.

It didn’t get any better. Bayern missed a penalty, almost certainly causing the game to go to a shoot-out, and then missed two more. Their reward for such wastage was the runner-up spot.

On to Pairc Tailteann for Louth’s bow in the Leinster Championship. Westmeath were in the other corner, and over the near 80 minutes needed to decide which side would advance for a meeting with provincial and All-Ireland champions, Dublin, on Sunday week, the midlanders won out in all parts of the field. Good play, however, wasn’t complemented with scores; over the hour they won the missed chances tussle 13-7. And they cracked a shot off the crossbar at a crucial stage.

Yet, with most of the eight injury-time minutes played, Westmeath were two points in front. Then, in a reverse of what Louth has seen all too often in championship matches, Pat Flanagan’s team conceded a goal – toe-poked to the net by Daniel O’Connor, the young St Patrick’s clubman who was having his first taste of senior championship football.

John Heslin, a man-of-the-match contender along with goalkeeper, Gary Connaughton, had a chance to grab the equaliser, but having had the antidote for the malaise that affected most of those in front of him, the No 8 was this time wildly off-target with a long-distance free.

No-one knows better than Louth folk how the Westmeath following must have felt after the match; too often in the past Red victories were denied in the cruellest of fashions, at Sunday’s venue and others.

That said, luck hasn’t been hiding from Louth since Peter Fitzpatrick took over from Eamon McEneaney - and maybe when the man known as Fitzer to some ran 50-yards to jump into Brian McEniff’s arms at the final whistle he was acknowledging that. The hope is that the well hasn’t run dry.