Against Down in the opening round last weekend it was the young guns who were to the fore but, sucked into a battle against a deeply defensive Westmeath at Cusack Park in Mullingar yesterday, it was the more experienced lads who stood up strongest to see us through.
True, Mattie Ruane was prominent in both games – particularly so yesterday – but then I guess that, now in his third year at inter-county level, the Breaffy man also straddles both camps. His Breaffy clubmate, Robbie Hennelly, was flawless in goal yesterday, making two crucial interventions in the second half, both of which averted clear goal chances. Then, at the other end of the field, Cillian O’Connor was as dependable as ever on frees and it was his injury time point from play that finally broke the home team’s resolve.
But the man who was central to yesterday’s win and who took the fight to the opposition all day was Paddy Durcan. Captaining the side in Aidan O’Shea’s absence, the Castlebar Mitchels player was a livewire presence all afternoon, defending with his usual tigerish determination and raiding forward to notch three excellent points from play.
He was named Man of the Match by Eir Sport on the live broadcast yesterday and, with 36% of the vote in the poll here on the site, he wins the MOTM award here as well. Congrats to him.
The other lads name-checked above all polled heavily – Mattie got 16% of the vote, Cillian got 11% and Robbie got 9% – which provides recognition of the heavy lifting they did for us in Mullingar yesterday. Well done to them too.