Westmeath’s big shot at redemption

LATE last year, another Christy Ring Cup in the bag (third in the six years of the competition), their county champions Raharney running Oulart-The-Ballagh to three points in the Leinster club semi-final, Westmeath hurling was on the crest of a wave.

Four months later, league over, zero points from seven games, manager Kevin Martin bumped, relegation to Division 3A.

So, Eoin Price, Westmeath defender and team captain — what happened?

“Yeah, everyone wants to know that,” he sighs. “We had our sights set on beating the weaker teams — well, not the weaker teams as such, but Limerick and Clare were very strong and we probably weren’t expecting to beat those.

“But we weren’t expecting what happened to happen either. People started pointing fingers when we were losing and Kevin Martin was the first person in line. Personally, I have great time for Kevin. He did a lot for Westmeath hurling, and I know results this year didn’t show that, but he did.”

With Carlow ahead of them, they have a chance to gain redemption. One win and they’re back in it.

“We have to set our standards a lot higher and winning Division 3 is a must. We had been making progress, it would be a shame to see all that go to waste and for no apparent reason.

“There are plenty hurlers in Westmeath good enough to compete at this level. The club championship in Westmeath is serious and Raharney didn’t have things all their own way inside the county. I’m with Clonkill and in the last few years we’ve shared the championship between us, huge rivalry. There’s talent in Westmeath.”

They’ve lost some of that talent in the last few years though. Killian Cosgrove is the same age as Joe Canning, won a Christy Ring when he was 16 but suffered serious back problems which forced him to quit.

“Killian was such a talent, was up there with Joe Canning. I think one of the reasons he went to Australia was that he wasn’t able to hurl, because I know if he could hurl he’d still be around.”

CARLOW: K Keogh; A Corcoran, S Kavanagh, D Shaw; E Coady, E Nolan, R Coady; J Kavanagh, J Rogers; E Byrne, C Doyle, M Brennan; A Gaule, R Dunbar, P Keogh.

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