Tuesday 12 December 2017

'I don't care if we lose by one point or 25 points' - Westmeath manager Tom Cribben on playing Dublin

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Westmeath manager Tom Cribben has said that he does not care if his side loses by one point, or 25 points, in Sunday's Leinster SFC semi-final with Dublin.

The Lake County have lost to Dublin by an accumulated 28 points in the last two Leinster finals with Jim Gavin's side favoured by 13 points heading into this weekend's semi-final.

Given how Westmeath have fared in their last two championship meetings with Dublin, a lot of the coverage surrounding this weekend's semi-final has centred around the manner in which Westmeath should take their defeat; by either trying to attack Dublin or by centering their gameplan around trying to limit the defending All-Ireland champions scores.

Cribben said that his side must embrace the opportunity to play in Croke Park and test themselves against Dublin, but that the manner in which Westmeath lose is of zero concern to him.

"Never once does it worry me how we're going to be beaten," Cribben told Newstalk's Off The Ball on Friday.

"I couldn't care less about that. If we're going to be beaten, I don't care if it's by one point or if it's by 25 points, I genuinely don't.

"You have to go out and plan in a way that you think you can win it. What manager, or what team would plan playing any team in the country, no matter what everyone else thinks, plans trying not to lose or the manner in the way they lose.

"We're going with the best system that we think will help us to try and win the game and that's the only way we can approach the game.

"Everyone is starting to say on the tv, and all these pundits that are getting paid huge money and we're all the amateurs getting zero for doing it,  they want you to go out and do what suits them."

One of those pundits is former Westmeath All Star Dessie Dolan, who has articulated the view from within the county that they need to give much more of themselves in Sunday's Leinster semi-final.

"A lot of Westmeath supporters will be very frustrated if we go to Croke Park and play like that again," said Dolan in reference to last year's defensive 15-point defeat in the Leinster final.

"Even when it was quite clear that Dublin were getting away last year Westmeath just kept their defensive shape.

"What is there to fear? We've lost to them by 13 and 15 points playing a particular way. If that's the case again then at least play to the team's strengths and attack them," he added.

"Last year was just so disappointing. We went to Croke Park with just no ambition to win the game, sat back and didn't take it to them at all.

"What was most disappointing was that this was a final, a Leinster final, there was a cup at stake yet there was never a chance that we were going to compete for it the way we set up.

"It's a big day to go to Croke Park, it's a big day to play Dublin. Supporters need to know that it will be worth their while."

In Heslin, Paul Sharry, Ger Egan, Kieran Martin and James Dolan, Westmeath have players that would challenge for places on most inter-county teams.

Dolan feels Westmeath are capable of so much more than they showed in either Leinster final.

"I think it's significant that in the games against Mayo, Meath and Kildare over the last two years that we really only saw the best of Westmeath when they cut loose," he said. "They scored 3-17 on Saturday against a defensive team.

The trend in football this season has been for teams to play a less defensive type of game, certainly a faster counter-attacking game, and I think Westmeath would benefit from that. I know the supporters will certainly appreciate it."

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