Cusack Park in Mullingar is our next destination in this year’s National League Division Two North campaign. On Saturday we’re set to face Westmeath there in a game that throws in at 3pm that afternoon. The match is being broadcast live on Eir Sport and Noel Mooney of Cavan is the ref for it.
We’ve played the Lake County twenty times in all down the years. Eighteen of those meetings were in the National League, over a period spanning 1953 and 2014. We’ve won fifteen of those clashes, drawn one and lost four.
In the Championship, meanwhile, it’s a win apiece from two meetings, both held at neutral venues. They beat us in 2001 at Dr Hyde Park in the qualifiers while we got the better of them, also in the qualifiers, in 2016 at Croke Park.
That’s our most recent meeting with them and the last time we played them in the League was when we met in Division One at Cusack Park in March 2014. We won that one too.
Since then we’ve gone our separate ways, which for them has meant a life outside Division One of the League and regular enough eviscerations at the hands of Dublin in the Leinster Championship.
Looking at their more recent form, the best place to start is the beginning of last year when the world was still operating as normal, even if the news out of Wuhan was starting to get a little concerning, and the League got going on schedule in late January.
Westmeath began their Division 2 campaign last year with a narrow 2-9 to 1-11 win over Clare in a match played at Cusack Park. That’s Westmeath’s Cusack Park, by the way, not Clare’s county ground of the same name in Ennis.
In Round 2 the following week the Lake County lost for the first time, Cavan coming out on top by 1-17 to 1-13 at Breffni Park. Back in Mullingar a week later, however, Westmeath steadied the ship with another narrow win, this one over Fermanagh by 0-10 to 0-8.
A high-scoring draw, on a scoreline of 3-12 to 2-15, against Armagh, a match also played in Cusack Park, followed in Round 4. Then, in the final round of games before the Covid restrictions were imposed, they went down heavily enough away to Roscommon, losing that game in Dr Hyde Park on 1st March by 1-16 to 0-12.
The resumption of matches last October saw Westmeath win and lose to Leinster opposition. First off they enjoyed an impressive 1-18 to 0-13 home victory over Laois but the following weekend their faint promotion hopes were dashed as they lost out by 0-16 to 0-11 to Kildare in Newbridge. This meant Westmeath ended in fourth spot in Division Two on seven points.
Drawing Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final was only ever going to mean one thing. That draw had been made over a year before the match was played so the Lakesiders knew what was in store for them all that time. Because it was Dublin’s first outing, though, it didn’t turn out to be a proper pummelling as Westmeath left O’Moore Park in Portlaoise bearing only the scars of an 0-22 to 0-11 defeat.
That game was played on 7th November last year, which meant that when Westmeath galloped out onto the pitch at Páirc Tailteann last Sunday to face Meath in the first round of this year’s League it was their first competitive outing in over six months. Despite this, they controlled the game fairly well for most of the seventy minutes only to lose a four-point lead late on and fall to a one-point loss to the Royals, on a scoreline of 0-16 to 0-15. That win for Meath, by the way, was their first in the League for over two years.
Sunday’s defeat puts Westmeath under a bit of early pressure in Division Two North and that’ll get ramped up a few notches on Saturday should we come away with a win from Cusack Park. Needless to say, we’re huge favourites to do the business then. As ever, though, let’s conclude by testing the waters with you, dear readers, to see if that optimism is reflected among the county’s supporters.
How will we do against Westmeath?
- Win (89%, 505 Votes)
- Draw (5%, 31 Votes)
- Lose (5%, 29 Votes)
Total Voters: 565