Tyrrellspass hoping to claim Westmeath glory
By Cian O'Connell
Tyrrellspass and St Loman’s have become familiar foes in the latter stages of the Westmeath Championship. On Sunday the two proud clubs contest a third final in five years, a further sign of their current strength and stamina.
While Loman’s have prevailed in the two previous deciders involving the teams, Tyrrellspass remain hopeful about their chances this weekend.
A Ger Egan inspired semi-final win over The Downs was a boost for Alan Mangan’s solid outfit. Secretary Frank Martin has served Tyrrellspass in several roles and is optimistic.
“Looking at the age profile, the oldest would be 44, while the youngest fella is 19 so there is a good spread,” Martin says about the Tyrrellspass set-up. “I had a look there during the week, the average age of the team for the first 15 named would be just over 25. The average age of the whole panel is under 27.”
For the past two years Tyrrellspass have been trained by former inter-county footballer Alan Mangan, a widely respected figure in the midlands.
“Alan Mangan, he was a player with Westmeath. He is from St Malachy's originally, but he played with Westmeath, he won a Leinster in 2004. Himself and Peter Leahy managed Westmeath Ladies to an All Ireland title. This is his second year with us.”
Mangan inherited a talented outfit nicely stocked with past and present Westmeath players. “We have Ger Egan, the Westmeath captain, Dennis Glennon, Jamie Gonoud, the full back, Darren Quinn, the goalkeeper,” Martin states.
“You would have others that were there like David Glennon, Dean McNicholas. We have a good core there, Philip Sheridan is another.
“This will be our third final in a few years 2013, last year and this year, St Loman's again, same opposition again.”
County Champions in 2006 and 2007, Tyrrellspass are a widely respected force at senior level in Westmeath. A good vibe surrounds Tyrrellspass. “There is, we are going well,” Martin admits.
Challenges do exist, though. “This year we are lacking numbers at minor, but we are in a Division Three minor championship final on Saturday too,” he adds.
“The club is small enough, the membership isn't huge. Our underage membership has about 100 or 110, you are going to have lean years, like our minors this year. We only have a panel of 18.
“That is just this particular year. Looking at our Under 16 panel moving on to next year would be on to maybe 25 or 27. So it is swings and roundabouts, you have plenty one year and it can be scarce the next.”
Martin enjoys mixing on and off the pitch duties to help youngsters in Tyrrellspass develop. “I've been secretary since 2011 and I was underage secretary before that,” Martin remarks.
“I train some of the teams as well, I was involved with the Under 16s in the year gone by and I'd be involved in the 14s, 12s, and 10s, there is group of us at the moment all the way up. We would be okay that way, there is always two or three mentors with each group.”
Reaching a Westmeath SFC Final is an important step, winning would increase interest and awareness according to Martin. “It would be a massive lift,” Martin acknowledges.
“The first time we won it was 1999, then we went back to back in 2006 and 2007. We were knocked out of Leinster by St Vincent's, who went on to win the All Ireland.
“We have a good core from then still involved, you'd have six or seven lads with two medals already. A lot of lads coming through would have none, even at that a lot of them will be playing in their third County Final.”
Still seeking to attain glory for the defiant Tyrrellspass club, who crave a return to the summit of the game in Westmeath.