Friday 9 December 2016

Egan urges Westmeath to reset focus for Dublin challenge

Published 03/07/2015 | 02:30

28 June 2015; John Egan, Westmeath, celebrates at the end of the game. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Westmeath v Meath. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
28 June 2015; John Egan, Westmeath, celebrates at the end of the game. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Westmeath v Meath. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

John Egan has warned his Westmeath team-mates that their Leinster final will be over within 10 minutes if they play as open as they did in the first half of the win over Meath last Sunday.

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The Westmeath players are still revelling in their historic first championship win over their near neighbours but the focus will have to quickly switch to how to go about beating a Dublin side who look untouchable in their current form.

"It's easier said than done," Egan said of trying to come down from cloud nine.

"We met Tuesday night and we were still on a high. There's no point trying to forget about it all of a sudden. It was a huge day for us.

"There's a core group of players there who had a bad three or four years at this level.

"It's a huge high but obviously on to Dublin now and that's a different kettle of fish. If we're as open as we were in the first half against Dublin, the game could be over after 10 minutes."

Behind the scenes, Westmeath have worked tirelessly on their fitness and have even roped in Gerry Duffy, the man who ran a staggering 32 marathons in 32 days in 2010.

Westmeath's achievement is on a different scale but it certainly represents a significant milestone in itself.

"It's only a human reaction that when you're so far ahead, you think the game is over and all of a sudden, you're back in the heat of battle again," Egan explained.

"We knew we had the legs. It's been said to us all year that we had the legs. Last year in Division 1, we seemed to fall away against the bigger teams in the last 15/20 minutes.

"I think mentally we didn't believe that we had the fitness to sustain the 70 minutes but now we know that we have it in the legs, it's just about getting through that mental block and staying at it."

From the mental side of things, Westmeath's cause was helped by the fact that the young players didn't have any sort of inferiority complex towards Meath.

Prior to last Sunday, Egan and several of his team-mates had only ever played Meath in the championship at U-21 level, and by winning that game confidence was never an issue.

"The core group haven't really been in this bubble of 'we haven't beat Meath in so long'," Egan stressed.

"We're all young and maybe the enthusiastic and naive side of things helped us. We weren't really thinking about Meath as this unbeatable force.

"It was more that it was another chance to get a Leinster final and play on the big stage.

"Some of the lads had never played at Croke Park before. We knew it was a big deal to the county."

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