Westmeath no longer looking for moral victories says Robbie Greville
In the aftermath of the 2012 Leinster quarter final Westmeath received plenty of pats on the back for pushing Galway close for the second year in a row but there only so many moral victories a team can take.
Few are more determined to create a new Westmeath hurling identity than Rathaney’s Robbie Greville who is fully convinced Westmeath are going to “ruffle a few feathers” and beat Wexford in the Leinster championship this Sunday.
Greville was still a minor when he lined out against Galway that day and the DIT student feels the time is right for Westmeath “to get rid of moral victories”.
Much optimism in hurling circles has surrounded Westmeath in recent times but last year the wheels nearly came off as off field controversy transferred to the field.
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Staring down the barrel of a gun the Lake County preserved their precious Liam McCarthy status with a playoff win over Christy Ring winners Kildare.
In the idioms of GAA an outside manager can be seen as ambitious and this year Michael Ryan arrived from Waterford to steady the ship, and the former Waterford manager is certainly not lacking in the aforementioned quality.
“He’s always ranting and raving about us” says Greville “he loves the long drive up and he’s certainly brought a new dimension to training”.
Ryan will spur his troops on to pull of a shock victory on Sunday, an upset in everybody’s eyes except those closest to Westmeath hurling.
Last year Dublin got past Westmeath in the u21 championship by the skin of their teeth in a moment Greville describes as “the worst moment of my career”.
The hurt of those missed opportunities has pushed this side into “stepping up” so that this group can push on and take a major scalp.
The hurlers push to emerge from the shadows is a massive mountain to climb however as the hurlers face an identity crisis in their own county playing second fiddle to the other code football.
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Despite the qualms of manager Michael Ryan the County board ran a round of football fixtures last week which a number of the hurlers had to play.
“I believe we are sometimes second class citizens” says Greville, but he believes people are beginning to take more notice and “this team can push on”.
The Greville name is synonymous with Westmeath hurling, Robbie is joined on the current team by twin brother Gary while his older brother Paul was part of the Westmeath side that shocked Dublin in 2006.
“Paul is biggest influence on my career; he was always bringing me to games”.
If Robbie does manage to emulate his brother’s victory in 2006 on Sunday, hurling’s top table might have to pull out a chair for the rising minnows.