Colin Kelly satisfied with Westmeath's form
By Cian O’Connell
Westmeath manager Colin Kelly is encouraged by the midlanders’ Allianz Football League Division Three start.
With four points pocketed from a possible six, Westmeath are eager to deliver again when Sligo visit TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar on Sunday.
That is another important encounter for Westmeath, who will also play in the Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup Final against Meath next month.
“It has been a good start,” Kelly admits. “When you are winning games it seems a lot easier. At times we could have been a little bit better than we have and there were times when we put in exceptional passages of play.
“Overall I'm enjoying it, we have another tough test on Sunday. It is better to be winning these games than losing them.
“It is a tough Division. I suppose when you look at it you have three northern teams in it, they are always very difficult to beat. Armagh are a really good squad, they proved that in last year's Championship. Fermanagh are decent, they have done well under Rory (Gallagher) and Derry can be a quality side.
“Then you have teams around Leinster with a lot of neighbouring derbies there. It is a tough environment to be playing and the results can be unpredictable and Sligo always bring something to the mix. They can be a difficult side to beat and they proved so when I was Louth manager. I don't expect anything different going forward.”
Having guided Louth to successive promotions Kelly stepped away from his native county, but was delighted to return to inter-county management with Westmeath.
“It is different, that goes without saying, but for me my passion has always been GAA,” Kelly states.
“When I went from a playing role to one of a coaching capacity, like playing I wanted to achieve and coach at the highest level I could possible. I had great times with Louth, it was my place of birth, it is a special county for me and always will be.
“To stay involved I've been very lucky to get involved with a bunch of players, who I have admired from afar from a long, long time in terms of the quality they have.
“When you go in to meet the guys it has just escalated my feelings towards them because they are a fantastic bunch of lads.
“They are very driven, they are exceptionally talented so I'm very lucky to be working with them. Hopefully I can improve them going forward somewhat and put more layers on the experiences they've had under past managers. If we can do that and be successful it would be brilliant.”
Kelly is excited about the promise that exists in Westmeath. “There is potential, we have a couple of guys away travelling and a couple of long term injuries,” Kelly adds.
“We still have fellas coming back into the mix and to deal with all of that, to still be very competitive and winning games says an awful lot about the bunch they are. I don't want to talk about who is not in the mix, I'm just very lucky to be working with a talented bunch, who are working all of the time.
"Every test we put to them they seem to embrace it, to try to put their best foot forward. There is never any negativity in the group; everything that is asked of them we try to figure it out as best we can, to do it in a proper fashion.”
Despite a setback against Armagh, Kelly was thrilled by the response when Westmeath outfoxed Wexford in the south east.
“So far it has been working, it didn't against Armagh, that is acceptable, that is football, that is life,” Kelly says.
“We re-assess and go on. It could have been a sticky wicket going down to Wexford, travelling to a county, who would be well coached under Paul McLoughlin. I know Paul, I've worked with him in the past so I know the qualities he brings to it.
“Our lads just went out and did their business, they were very professional with the way they approached it. They showed excellent intensity. Even though we didn't have our best day ever in front of goals they did enough to win the game.
“It is about securing points. Next Sunday is again about getting two points on the board; that is what we are after.”