Hanley upbeat ahead of final despite Westmeath's injury crisis
WESTMEATH'S hurlers have lost four players to injury ahead of their Division 2A promotion play-off against Laois on Sunday.
Niall O'Brien, Joe Clarke, Aonghus Clarke and Tommy Gallagher have all been ruled out of the clash in Tullamore as Brian Hanley's side bid to get back to the division they were relegated from two years ago.
The loss of corner-forward O'Brien is a considerable setback as it was his late goal that proved the difference between the sides when they met in Mullingar in round three.
"Niall is definitely out as he pulled his quad muscle. I'd imagine he'd be okay for the championship, he should be back in the next three weeks or so," Hanley said.
"But Joe Clarke is out with a knee injury and Aonghus is out with a broken hand. Now Tommy Gallagher has been ruled out too with a broken nose. The loss of the lads is tough alright, but we'll give it a good go."
Hanley admits it will be difficult for his side to cope without the four, but he feels they deserve to be in the final and in with a crack of reaching Division 1B, especially after losing to Carlow at the same stage last year.
"To be honest we always expect to get to the final. We were there last year, but we have 11 new faces since then. And considering we lost our first game against Kerry, we did well to win our next four to make it.
"But the humour is good, we are in the final. We beat Laois earlier, but it was very close that day," added Hanley.
Elsewhere, All-Ireland club football champions St Brigid's of Roscommon have appointed Benny O'Brien as their new manager.
O'Brien succeeds Kevin McStay, who stepped down after guiding St Brigid's to their Andy Merrigan Cup triumph after an epic battle with Dublin's Ballymun Kickhams.
McStay cited work commitments as the reasons behind his decision to move aside after a year in the job. O'Brien served as a selector under McStay and he has retained Liam McHale as coach, while Basil Mannion comes in as selector.