Preview: Allianz FL D4 Final - Westmeath v Wexford
Saturday April 8
Allianz Football League Division Four Final
Westmeath v Wexford, Croke Park, 3pm, Live on TG4
By Cian O'Connell
The main spring mission has been accomplished by Westmeath and Wexford, who will both be looking to decorate satisfying campaigns with silverware at Croke Park.
A year ago at this exact stage Louth claimed the title and Colin Kelly’s evolving team will compete in Division Two in 2018.
That is the type of environment Westmeath and Wexford hope to operate in shortly, but they both enter the Leinster Senior Football Championship heartened.
Westmeath have endured plenty of disappointing days in the Allianz Football League with three relegations in a row, but the midlanders still enjoyed decent summer campaigns in 2015 and 2016.
Reaching the provincial finals in both those years confirms the diligent work being carried out by Tom Cribbin, who has Westmeath feeling good about themselves again.
While a June 11 date with Offaly at O’Connor Park is the main focus Westmeath will still want to leave GAA headquarters with a trophy this weekend.
Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney’s impact with Wexford has been immediate, five straight wins ensured they had Division Three status secured early.
It also meant Wexford afforded fringe panel members an opportunity in their last two group games against Westmeath and Carlow.
Defeats were suffered in those two encounters, but Cribbin, who is thrilled to be going back to the Jones Road venue, isn’t placing any emphasis on Westmeath’s emphatic victory at Innovate Wexford Park.
“Yeah, definitely it is a great game to get in Croke Park. Look Wexford had 10 points out of five games, they were qualified, they could afford that luxury at the time.
“We had to go strong against them to be certain. We needed a point to be certain to get promotion and on the day things just clicked for us as well.
“The score flattered us, we got a bit of a run, but Banty had made his decision to give lads a run. We just got a purple patch early in the game which gave us the confidence to drive on.”
With promotion attained Cribbin made several alterations to his own team for their fixture against London at Cusack Park.
“On Sunday then there was really was nothing to fight for, we had 10 changes to the team, but eight or nine of those lads had started Championship matches over the last two years. T
“They had loads of experience and were biting at the bit to get back in there. A lot of them probably felt they had a point to prove whereas London had to come home for six matches in seven weeks, it must have been very tough on them with all of that travelling.”
Since drawing with Carlow on the opening weekend of the League Westmeath have stitched a six match winning sequence together with John Heslin, Paul Sharry, and Kieran Martin prominent.
Wexford, who face Carlow in the Championship on May 21, commenced the year loaded with determination as McEnaney’s cocktail of youth and experience blended nicely.
Ben Brosnan and Ciaran Lyng, two capable attackers, who continue to perform well for Wexford have been instrumental.
This match, though, provides Westmeath and Wexford with another ideal opportunity to prepare themselves for the challenges which await in the coming months.
WEXFORD: Shane Roche; Brian Malone, Jim Rossiter, Michael Furlong; Eoghan Nolan, John Leacy, Ronan Devereux; Daithi Waters, Colm Kehoe; Kevin O'Grady, Ben Brosnan, Paul Curtis; Ciaran Lyng, John Tubritt, PJ Banville.