Monday 22 July 2019

What about Westmeath?

Diarmuid Sheehan

Westmeath may well be rank outsiders for this weekend's SHC Preliminary Quarter-final against Cork but few on Leeside will be taking the midland county for granted.

Westmeath come into the all or nothing clash on the back of a disappointing loss in the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup but that 11-point loss will tell little about Westmeath can bring to this particular party.

In hurling circles Westmeath are hardly on the level of a Cork or Kilkenny but the county has made the last two finals of the Joe McDonagh Cup and while they came out on the wrong side of both, they have shown enough in recent years to be hadled with kid gloves.

Killian Doyle bagged a personal tally of 1-11 on his last outing and the talented forward is likely to score plenty again this time round if Cork's backs afford him the opportunities.

Aonghus Clarke, Ciaran Doyle, Cormac Boyle, Allan Devine and Derek McNicholas are another five that will need to be watched.

At the back Westmeath have plenty talent with Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle and Gary Greville likely to be the starting full back line while Liam Varley, Aonghus Clarke and Paul Greville will hold court in the line ahead.

GoalKeeper Conor Lynch will need to be on his best to stop Cork's serious attacking threat but he will also need to put his puck-outs directly into his colleagues' hands if they are to have any chance here.

Westmeath have plenty to admire but on this day, it would be the shock of the decade if Cork were not to progress.