Joy of six: Can Louth beat Westmeath again?

Can their luck hold out for a sixth time in three years against Westmeath?

Can their luck hold out for a sixth time in three years against Westmeath?

That is the question every football fan in Louth will be asking on the journey over to Cusack Park in Mullingar on Saturday.

With two victories over the midlanders this year alone, to add to the three other conquests in the previous two years before that, it would look like Louth have a straightforward match on their hands.

Yet Westmeath have been difficult opponents in both games this year and when the Wee County last faced them in Navan in the first round of the Leinster Championship, it was a nail biter right to the the death, as St Pats new boy Danny O’Connor clipped the ball beyond Gary Connaughton in the Westmeath goal to earn the victory for Fitzers men.

On the opening day of the league season back in February, the Reds laboured to a three point victory over Pat Flanagan’s men in Haggardstown, with skipper Paddy Keenan putting in a man of the match performance in his 100th game for the Wee County.

After that opening clash, Fitzer slammed the media for damning both Louth and Westmeath to relegation before the season had even begun.

As it turned out both sides were spared the drop on the last day of the Division Two campaign, with the Wee County overcoming Meath and Pat Flanagan’s Westmeath defeating Derry thanks to a tremendous second half performance.

After the draw was announced last week, Peter Fitzpatrick called for renewed confidence from his squad - particularly due to the forced absences and injuries that the team have had to endure recently.


Having seen Young Irelands’ Derek Maguire heading to America recently, the Louth manager lamented the trend, with American sides, such as Boston, offering work and a team for GAA players for the summer.

Even with the problems plaguing the side, Peter Fitzpatrick stated that he was once again confident of beating Westmeath, however with the clash to be played in Cusack Park it means that Westmeath will go in as slight favourites with many book makers.

Full forward Darren Clarke is well aware of the Wee County’s impressive recent record against the midlanders, but statistics will have little impact come Saturday.

“Sure we’ve a good record against them, but that won’t come into it.”

The Ardee man also joked that the two sides “will be sick of the sight of each other at this stage.”

Another man who has performed well this season is half forward Derek Crilly and the Gaels man is fit and ready for the trip to Mullingar.

“I’ve a clean bill of health, well, as well as can be expected at this time of the year.”

The news that Louth were struggling to get numbers together over the past two weeks was disappointing, but Crilly was quick to point out that everybody who could not attend those sessions was accounted for and it was only because of the amount of club football that was happening recently.

“The club fixtures have been changed, so we have a clean run into the game against Westmeath now,” explained Crilly.

Dublin defeat

Naturally the manner of the defeat aganst Dublin in Croke Park took some time to get over, but the Louth half forward believes that apart from those last few minutes in the first half, The Wee County showed spells of good form.

Yet he knows that Dublin were far too strong for his side on the day.

“It was difficult to take, because of the manner of the defeat. But if someone had said to us before that match that we would be only five down near half time we would have taken it, however the final moments of the opening half were a killer from our point of view.”

According to Crilly, in training this week, the team have been focussing on countering the threat of Westmeath’s danger men - John Heslin and Denis Glennon.

“Although Glennon didn’t score against us in Navan, he was at the centre of everything and was a real threat”, added the Gaels man.

Surprisingly Crilly revealed that many of the Louth players were happy to learn that they would have to play over in Cusack Park, as opposed to in Drogheda.

“It’s actually an advantage to be away from Drogheda. Cusack Park is a great pitch, from what I’ve heard and it’ll suit us better.

“A lot of the lads don’t like playing in Drogheda”, stated Crilly.

Due to the injuries and absences, Crilly’s fellow club man Errol Boyle has been drafted into the squad to plug a gap.

“I’ll not be lonely now, we’ve myself, David McComish and now Errol on the panel,” joked Crilly.