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Glennon relies on Rohan for positive approach

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Westmeath football manager Denis Glennon. Picture credit: Brian Lawless/SPORTSFILE

Westmeath football manager Denis Glennon. Picture credit: Brian Lawless/SPORTSFILE

Westmeath football manager Denis Glennon. Picture credit: Brian Lawless/SPORTSFILE

CAN Westmeath defy the bookies, the pundits, the bar stool experts; can they turn logic and league status and history on its head by scalping the mighty Dubs? Denis Glennon thinks so.

"Em, yes. I think we can," says the mercurial Westmeath target man. "For the simple reason, it goes back to the mentality – if I tell you we can't, then we won't. We have to go in with a positive attitude.

"There's no refuting that Dublin are, if not the best team in the country, they're definitely a top-three team whereas we would be considered probably top-15 if we're lucky.

"At the same time it's 15 against 15 and once you go out onto that field, you're not against the county of Dublin, you're against 15 players. You have to believe that if you can win your individual battle and you have faith in the rest of your team that they can win their individual battles, then anything is possible."

Glennon is in Croke Park (at the launch of SuperValu's 'Community Den' competition) just days before Westmeath's date with Sky Blue destiny at the same venue. The conversation is peppered with references to self-belief and mentality, and in this context he is not the first (nor last) Westmeath footballer to sing the praises of Mark Rohan, he of Paralympic handcycling fame, who joined Pat Flanagan's backroom team this season.

 

Jigsaw

His primary role is working between the ears. While Glennon sings the praises of physical trainer Joe Quinn, he says Rohan (pictured right) preaches that mental attitude accounts for 80pc of the sporting jigsaw.

"You saw a good example at the weekend where Tipperary probably didn't believe they could beat Kerry – they were steamrolled off the field," he explains. "So we have to have an attitude that we can actually beat Dublin, as daunting as it is.

"And I think if we do have that attitude, we mightn't be too far away."

Rohan himself was a promising footballing prospect before a motorcycle accident left him paralysed and destined for a different sporting journey. You wonder is he the X factor that has propelled Westmeath to top-flight promotion via a sequence of second-half comebacks that seem to highlight the team's resolve?

"When you hear someone like that speaking, you're obviously going to listen," he answers.

The 29-year-old garda then harks back to his Leinster-winning debut season in 2004. "Páidí ó Sé had won eight All-Irelands, and he told us he won eight All-Irelands! When Páidí spoke, you listened – you would hear a pin drop in the room," Glennon recalls.

"Well, it's the same thing for Mark Rohan. He has tasted success at the very highest level, and when he speaks we do listen.

"I know before the Carlow game, he spoke for about five minutes and it reminded me of the Páidí days – you'd be leaving the dressing-room about to go through the wall."

He then recounts a story Rohan has told himself from an early handcycling race, being so far behind and people saying "Give up, give up".

The anger of hearing this actually spurred him on, to a point where he's now among the best in the world.

For Westmeath, there are obvious parallels in this story.

"Last week," Glennon recalls, "I was in the pool after a gym session, getting changed, and I heard two people from Westmeath speaking and they didn't know I was there at the time.

"One lad says, 'Are you going up to the game on Saturday?' and the other lad says, 'Why would I go up there to see the team being bet?'

"That hurt, and I suppose it made me angry as well, that I want to prove this man wrong. And hopefully on Saturday, that anger, I can bring it out onto the field."


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