John Heslin has fired a broadside at media pundits and supporters bemoaning Westmeath’s plummet from Division 1 of the league to Division 4 in consecutive seasons.
Former All Star, Dessie Dolan was among those bemoaning Westmeath’s fate in the league in recent years, arguing that reaching the Leinster final had papered over a series of cracks and that it was time for a native to take over the reins once more.
Heslin scored five points as the Lakesiders edged out local rivals Offaly in Sunday’s Leinster quarter-final and the full-forward was adamant that championship results outweighed anything that occurred between February and April.
“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t listen to much talk of the three relegations,” said Heslin.
“It’s great for lads to be able to write things and stuff like that, and ye are all going to write down tomorrow and publish stuff in the paper and that’s fine.
“Hopefully, you can say it was a great win by Westmeath and they showed some character and a bit of steel and they’re going to go on and do well in the semi-final, because that’s what needs to be said there now.
“Because Westmeath did well, it was a great win, over a local team.
“So, is it smart to peak in March, in the league, and come out and expect to play well on the 12th of June? I’ll ask you.”
Heslin revealed that that the exploits of the county’s hurlers and ladies footballers had proven inspirational and will be used once more as they bid to overcome Kildare in the Leinster semi-final on Sunday week.
“Last summer was fantastic but it’s well and truly in the past. This is another memory for us, beating Offaly by a point. So many Westmeath people are connected to Offaly through family members, work, everything else like that.
“So we’ll look forward to a semi-final, to create another good atmosphere for Westmeath.
“The hurlers have done so well — we’ll take confidence from that. Instead of thinking of the relegations in the past couple of years, we’ll look at what’s going on at the moment. The hurlers are driving us on, the women’s footballers are doing great, and that’s what you want — to drive the sports on.
“When you see out there, kids coming up getting signatures. Whether they know your name or not, they’re still enthusiastic about it and that’s what a win does for the county. So that’s pressure there, to deliver for the kids.”
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