Cooney latest on Lakes radar

By Frank Roche

JACK COONEY has emerged as the latest frontrunner for the football managerial vacancy in Westmeath.

Interviews for the senior football and hurling vacancies are scheduled to take place this week and next, and it could be the following week before the full county board has a chance to ratify the chosen successors to Paul Bealin and his outgoing hurling counterpart, Brian Hanley.

Several 'outside' candidates, notably Niall Carew, Val Daly and early favourite Séamus 'Banty' McEnaney, are among those nominated for the football job.

However, sources have indicated a growing level of support for Cooney, a Westmeath stalwart through the '90s who went on to become a selector - first under Luke Dempsey and later under the late Páidí Ó Sé - during the most successful era in the county's history.

More recently, he was in charge of his native Coralstown/Kinnegad until the end of last season.

The next incumbent will be tasked with revitalising a squad facing into NFL Division Two after a demoralising 2014. Westmeath have been on the lookout for a new boss since Bealin was ousted by county board delegates in early August - on a 37-12 vote - following a run of 12 straight defeats. The Dubliner had been strongly backed by chairman Seán Sheridan, to no avail.