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Westmeath Gaa Notes

By Tom Hunt, Westmeath Gaa Comunications Committee

 

Westmeath GAA Notes – 11/04/21

Movathon
The Lake County Movathon Fundraising initiative officially ended on 5 April but the Go FundMe page set up to receive donations is still active to facilitate those who wish to make late contributions. The initiative was an unbelievable financial success, the €100,000 target was reached and contributions have now passed the €140,000 mark. As is normal with month-long ventures, the Movathon began slowly but the momentum of the final two weeks sealed the success. The magnificent contribution of €20,000 by the MooreCorporation provided huge impetus.
Success has many measurements and the venture succeeded on many levels. The intention was also to encourage physical exercise in the ‘wicked month’ of March and this challenge was faced with enthusiasm as clubs and individuals engaged in a variety of cyclathons, rowathons, skiathons, sliotar striking, dawn-to-dusk walking relays and some individual journeys that can only be described as epic. It was essential that the initiative succeeded as the Westmeath GAA community was on trial with this challenge. If our playing and development ambitions are to be realised serious amounts of finance will be needed and as was outlined at the recent County Committee meeting, in the region of €1.3 million is required to upgrade TEG Cusack Park. On this occasion the Westmeath GAA community was not found wanting.
As a PR exercise the Movathon also succeeded admirably and those in charge of the social media campaign Donie Malone, Tom Browne and Mark Casserly are to be complimented on their efforts; the traditional local newspaper media were also generous in their coverage of the event. The positivity created by the campaign for the world of the Westmeath GAA will leave a lasting impact. The County Executive has often been the subject of criticism for not being proactive in generating funds; on this occasion the members and especially the sub-committee responsible for the planning and managing the Movathon are to be commended for putting necks on the line. This committee was made up of Frank Mescall, Pat Doherty, Karen Hegarty, Tom Hunt, Aoife Boyle, Des Maguire, Aisling Claffey, Donie Malone, Alan Leech, Mark Casserly, Tom Browne, Noeleen McCarthy and Caroline Carton. The Movathon was a tremendous success as a mould breaking initiative. The unique collaborative fundraising event with the Westmeath GAA, Westmeath Ladies Gaelic Football and Westmeath Camogie combining their efforts to raise the finance essential to allow their respective teams compete at the highest level was truly historic. Overall, the Movathon was a great success on many levels and in particular for the great engagement from all the interested parties of the Westmeath GAA community at home and abroad. The support for Frank Mescall in his first major undertaking since he became County Chairman points towards a very positive future for Westmeath GAA.

The Late Ned Flynn
The Westmeath GAA community lost one of its great soldiers when Ned Flynn departed to his Heavenly reward last week and all at Westmeath GAA would like to send our sincerest condolences to all his family, relatives and friends. The word legend is used in many circumstances but in the case of Ned Flynn its use is entirely appropriate. Ned was a legendary GAA figure, a unique character, a great Westmeath Gael, a fountain of knowledge and a man of fantastic wit. Ned’s outstanding contribution to GAA in Castlepollard, Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall and Westmeath will never be forgotten. A former Westmeath Minor Board Chairman, he gave outstanding service to his county and just loved everything associated with Gaelic games. In recent weeks he was on the phone seeking information on why the GAA had lost its elite status and what the association intended to do about it. That was Ned, concerned about the GAA and its place in Irish society to the last.
As a County Board Delegate he was unique, a competent debater who could mix humour with genius. Ned also spent many years commentating and analysing Westmeath inter-county and club games on Midlands 103. For his outstanding service to GAA, Ned received the GAA’s President Award at Croke Park in 2016

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Marie Lynagh: New Westmeath PRO
At the recent County Committee meeting Marie Lynagh of the Kilbeggan Shamrocks club was confirmed as the PRO of Westmeath GAA. We wish Marie the best of luck in this challenging post, a position that has been transformed over the past decade or so. Marie is a member of a family that has made significant contribution to the GAA as her father Pat is the current holder of the PRO office in Leinster Council and prior to that held the post of treasurer in the province and of course Pat is also a former secretary of the Westmeath County Committee. The Lynagh family are now unique in GAA circles with Pat a provincial PRO and Marie the holder of the equivalent office at county level. Marie Lynagh becomes the fourth female member of the Westmeath GAA executive and joins Deirdre Orme (Crookedwood Hurling Club), Aoife Boyle (Raharney Camogie Club) and Karen Hegarty (Mullingar Shamrocks) in the team responsible for managing the affairs of the GAA in the county.

Return to Play
With senior inter-county teams returning to collective training on 19 April, it signals the start of the preparation for return to competitive action. In brief this means that Westmeath senior hurling team will return on the weekend of 8-9 May when the Allianz National Hurling League resumes. The league divisions remain unchanged from those previously announced and Westmeath in Division IA will have outings against Waterford, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Tipperary to look forward to. In football Westmeath feature in Division 2 North with Meath, Down and Mayo. The geographic breakdown was a bit unkind to Westmeath as Meath and Mayo were the two teams relegated from Division 1. The Allianz National Football League begins a week later than the hurling competition on 15/16 May weekend and concludes with a possible final on the weekend of 19/20 June. The revised calendar guarantees each county a minimum of five matches in each code. The hurling League Relegation play off is scheduled to be played as curtain raiser to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Semi Final in August, a date that may have implications for the club season should Westmeath be involved. The McDonagh Cup will be played on a round robin system with the six competing counties divided into two groups of three and the top two in each group contesting the final; there is also a relegation play-off in this competition. The winners of the McDonagh Cup will be promoted to the 2022 Leinster Championships but will not compete in the 2021 All-Ireland series. The final of the McDonagh Cup will be played as a curtain raiser to the 2021 Leinster hurling final scheduled for Saturday 17 July.
The proposed calendar proposes that club competitions with county players can take place as county teams exit the championships (in football, teams start exiting from the end of June; in Hurling July 10. From 1 August all Counties except All Ireland Semi-Finalists in Football and Hurling, and the teams in the Div 1 Hurling Relegation play off, will be free to stage club competitions with county players. The resumption of club competitions is of course subject to restrictions permitting same to resume.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 04/04/21

‘A Huge coming together of GAA people in Westmeath’ …
The weather Gods smiled on the organisers and participants in the Westmeath Lake County Movathon Challenge this Easter weekend and clubs and individuals made maximum use of the beautiful weather. Shortly after 11.00 pm on Easter Saturday the significant milestone of €100, 000 in donations was reached in what County Chairman Frank Mescall described as ‘a huge coming together of GAA people in Westmeath’. Twenty-four hours later the €110, 000 barrier had been surpassed. Young and old, former and future stars, men and women, boys and girls, referees and umpires, county and club players, Gaelic footballers and Ladies Gaelic Football players, camogie players and hurlers, emigrants and locals, politicians and priests, county administrators and club officials all united in the common cause of progressing Westmeath GAA on and off the field. The Westmeath Lake County Movathon has been truly historic.

The creativity of Westmeath clubs and members was glorious to experience and some epic journeys were undertaken as people walked day and night for the cause of Westmeath GAA. County Committee vice-chairman Donie Malone engaged in a venture that can only be described as epic as he completed his ‘Walk 4, Every 4 for 48 Hours’ mission. The journey began at 6.00 am on Good Friday morning at the Caulry GAA pitch walking track and concluded 48 hours later at 6.00 am on Easter Sunday at the same venue. In between Donie walked 4 kilometres every 4 hours over the 48 hour period in a journey that involved visits to Dun na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park. the Magheramore Old Railway trail, Mount Temple Village, Treel-Knockadomney, Bellanalack-Clonyegan and Moate town. The GAA community of Mount Temple, Baylin, Moate and beyond as well as Donie’s friends and family in Ireland and abroad showed their appreciation of Donie’s efforts and donated generously to push the fund towards the magic €100, 000 barrier. County Committee Chairman, Frank Mescall was out early on Good Friday morning to lead off his team in the Dawn to Dusk walkathon around the Ballynacarrigy GAA club’s walking track; Central Council representative Tom Hunt passed the 300 Km virtual walk across and around the county also on Good Friday. Westmeath LGF manager Seán Finnegan passed the 250 Km mark on Easter Sunday.

2004 Revisited
The previous weekend saw our county senior footballers, hurlers and LGF players complete various challenges. On Easter weekend, it was the turn of the county minor football panel to complete their Movathon relay organised by team manager Vinny Cox. However, the contribution of the Leinster champion men of 2004 was a bit special and rekindled wonderful memories for Westmeath’s loyal GAA supporters. In the words of Damien Healy ‘despite how follicly challenged or rotund we may be’ the group embarked on a 2004 Km challenge that included Brian Morley in Canada and Colin Whyte in New York in support of the Movathon. Damien was a clear winner of the Oscars for production, originality and outstanding performance in a leading role in a social media contribution. Check it out on the Westmeath Official GAA Facebook page although Joe Fallon’s production from a boat on Lough Ree was also a contender. Not to be outdone several of the men who played in the famous National Football League match against Derry back in 1994 (Funny who time slips away!) also provided their support.

Hectic Club Activity
It was also a weekend of hectic club activity as the club’s of the county reacted positively and with creativity to Frank Mescall’s promptings. Club members and supporters were walking, running and cycling in Athlone, Garrycastle, Drumraney, Tang, Caulry, Mullingar Shamrocks and St Loman’s, a family relay was staged by the Coralstown-Kinnegad Club, Turin-St Munna’s Sunday morning Easter Egg hunt also took care of the family dimension; Clonkill’s Cycleathon and Raharney’s Rowathon were rewarding financially and The Downs went big on endurance in an event that showed the commitment of the club members to the county cause. Event coordinator, Sean Carroll organised 80 club members for the Malin Head to Mizen Head and Return challenge, a distance of 1240 Km. And that’s just a sample of what took place across the county.
The county hurling and camogie clubs participated in the Strikeathon challenge designed by Westmeath GAA hurling committee, Chairman Matty Conaty and Noel Conaty of the Westmeath Minor hurling management committee with a set of jerseys from KC Sports on offer for the club with the highest contribution. The hurling and camogie clubs and adult and underage players from around the county were challenged to get out and hit 1,000 sliotars each to get to an overall total of 500,000 sliotar strikes by Monday evening. And there is more to come as the Westmeath Camogie county players have organised a virtual camogie and hurling camp for boys and girls to take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6-8 April 10.00 -11.10 am with guest camogie players and a question and answer session as part of each session.

Overall, a weekend of great pride for the Westmeath GAA community.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 28/03/21

Last call for Westmeath Lake County Movathon Challenge …
MooreGroup Contribution
As the Westmeath Lake County Movathon challenge enters its final week the initiative continues to build momentum with a spectacular final weekend of club activity on the menu for Easter. The venture received a massive boost during the week when the MooreGroup Corporation New York donated €20,000 to the fund on behalf of the Moore families in New York, Mullingar and London in what was a massive vote of confidence in the future plans of the Westmeath GAA. The Moore family have been members of the Mullingar Shamrocks GAA Club and The Downs GAA Club for many years and were proud to support and join the efforts of the Westmeath County Board and all Westmeath Gaels in their efforts to raise much needed funds to support the many county teams who will represent Westmeath GAA in the season ahead. John Moore, President of the Moore Corporation has been centrally involved in the Westmeath New York GAA Club for close to forty years and has provided employment to many Westmeath club and county players who visited New York over that time. Gary Moore is the company’s Director of Construction and with his first cousin Darren, a successful New York Attorney, was a member of the Westmeath New York team managed by John Moore that contested the New York intermediate football final in 2020 losing narrowly to Brooklyn Shamrocks.

County Panels’ Brilliant Effort
Our county hurling, football and Ladies football players showed unbelievable commitment to the cause over the weekend. The senior hurling panel and management were first into action with the 24 hour Marathon Movathon starting at midnight on Friday night. Tommy Gallagher was first out and spare a thought for Alan Cox, Oísin Dowdall, Ciaran Nolan, Robbie Greville, Owen McCabe, Cormac Boyle, Ciaran Doyle, Alan Mangan, Shane Williams, Ciaran Williams, Tommy Doyle, Niall Mitchell and Aonghus Clarke who worked the overnight stints. Strength and conditioning coach Brendan Egan closed the deal at midnight on Saturday night. The Ladies Gaelic football county panel were also out on Saturday and successfully completed their 1000 Km Movathon Marathon challenge with Ciara Blundell and Karen Hegarty chipping in early with their 50 Km cycle. The county senior football panel comfortably completed a combined running and cycling 1000 Km challenge with many players running 25 Km in the process. Fitness levels are obviously being maintained during the lockdown and hopefully this dedication will be rewarded when the playing season resumes. The combined efforts of the county players (all conducted within the 5 Km limit as per Covid-19 requirements) have raised over €10,000 for their weekend’s commitment to the cause of Westmeath GAA. Westmeath supporters are invited to show their support for these wonderful efforts by making a donation on the GoFundMe page that can be found at the Westmeath GAA Facebook page. As we know half of the finance raised through this initiative will be invested equally in the preparation of the four county teams. The remainder will help finance the essential refurbishment of TEG Cusack Park to make the venue fit for purpose for our players and patrons.

Camogie Panel’s Virtual Coaching Camp
Our county camogie players have organised a virtual camogie and hurling camp for both girls and boys aged between 6 and 14 for 6th (Tuesday), 7th (Wednesday) and 8th (Thursday) March from 10.00-10.30 am for the Under-8 and Under-10 groups and from 10.40-11.10 am for the Under-12 and Under-14 groups. The focus is on exercises, skill challenges and fun with a question and answer session also part of each session. Westmeath camogie players will deliver each session and the good news is that some guest coaches have also been lined up to take part. Even better news is that these sessions are really good value with the cost just €10 per family for the total package.
The county referees too have been busy participating and donating and have shown great support to the Lake County Movathon Challenge. Barry Kelly (Mullingar Shamrocks & St.Oliver Plunkett’s), Alan Coyne (Castletown/Finea/Coole/Whitehall), Pat Fox (Rosemount), Damien Maher (Ballynacargy), Niall Ward (Garrycastle), Barry Nea (Turin & Killucan), Kieran Daly & his son Kian (Kilbeggan Shamrocks), Barry Pierce (St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge), Gary Hurley (Moate All Whites) and Keith O’Brien (Moate All Whites) have all been putting in the kilometres for the good of Westmeath GAA,

An Easter Weekend Extravaganza of Club activity planned

Next weekend promises to be one of the great novel weekends of activity in the county as the clubs have rallied in style to the call for support made by Frank Mescall (County Committee Chairman). An impressive range of events are planned for next weekend. The Downs have organised a Malin to Mizen virtual cycle challenge; Mullingar Shamrocks have dedicated the Good Friday to Easter Monday days to a Walk for Westmeath Weekend; Turin Hurling Club have an Easter Egg Hunt scheduled for Easter Sunday with an emphasis on family participation; Clonkill Hurling Club stage a virtual Cyclathon on Saturday; Good Friday in Rosemount will be a day of activity in the club’s walking track, Castledaly have a similar day planned and Maryland and Tang have planned a joint effort over the weekend. Loughnavalley’s 10-Days of walking will conclude over the weekend and St Loman’s have also targeted a day of walking to take place. This is just a sample of what is planned. Other clubs have channelled their support to their individual county players who took part in the various challenges.

The county minor football manager Vinny Cox and his players rescheduled their Marathon for Movathon relay event which was to have taken place last weekend Eight teams have been assembled from the panel and each team will cover 42 Km between the members starting at 9 .00 am with the fastest team to cover the distance declared the winner. The Coralstown-Kinnegad Club have a family relay event in an advanced stage of preparation. Matty and Noel Conaty have set out a 250,000 hurling pucks challenge for the county hurling clubs.

We must not forget the individual efforts. Frank Mescall has a 10 hour walking relay planned to take place on the Ballynacarrigy walking track. Padraig Óg Ó Sé is planning to walk 2004 steps in memory of the great year Westmeath had in 2004 when the county won the first Leinster title managed by Padraig’s father, the great Páidí; the members of the 2004 title winning squad are at also at an advanced stage in planning a 2004-distant event for next week to commemorate the historic victory. Westmeath County GAA Committee vice-chairman Donie Malone’s ambitious ‘Walk 4, Every 4 for 48’ takes place. Donie plans to walk 4 Km every 4 hours for 48 hours starting on Good Friday morning at 6.00 am and will finish at 6.00 am on Easter Sunday using different locations within 5 Km of his home for the endurance challenging adventure. Donie has several sponsors lined up to support his dedication and will not refuse any additional offers of support!

Great Prizes on offer
As was announced last week, the committee responsible for managing this project have reacted to the enthusiastic support for the Westmeath Lake County Movathon and have now made available some very attractive prizes for those who participate and donate. Each €5 donation will receive one ticket for the draw. Jack Cooney has offered a very special prize. Jack and his management team will conduct a full day coaching-training session for any club anywhere in Ireland for the winner. The individual drawn in the ‘Luck Dip’ will nominate the club of his or her choice. Other prizes include:
Three month membership (for two) in Wolfhound Fitness donated by Joe and Katie Nangle.
Pair of All-Ireland Hurling Final tickets
Pair of All-Ireland Football Final tickets

Pair of All-Ireland Ladies Football Final tickets

Pair of All-Ireland Camogie Final tickets

Signed Westmeath Camogie Jersey

Signed Westmeath Ladies Football Jersey

Signed Westmeath Hurling Jersey

Signed Westmeath Football Jersey

Annual Passes for Westmeath Club Championship games.

Tickets and Passes are for 2021 if attendances are permitted – if not, they will be for 2022.

Dawn-to-Dusk Challenge
In addition clubs if they wish can participate in the Easter Weekend Dawn-to-Dusk Challenge. In simple terms clubs take part from Good Friday onwards and encourage their members to participate, donate and seek sponsorship. The challenge may take place on any or all of the four days over the Easter weekend. Club members participate by walking, running or cycling, record their distance and return it to their club’s co-ordinator. The club co-ordinator records the distance for each activity covered by club members at midday on each day, and again at day’s end. Distance will be shared on club’s social media and a “leaderboard” will be uploaded on Westmeath GAA social media. The club which covers the greatest distance over the four days will win a set of 30 training jerseys for a team of their choice within the club.

‘A grain of rice will tip the scales’.
With one final combined effort from clubs and individuals a target of €100,000 is well within our reach. All the members of the Westmeath GAA community are to be commended for their efforts to date. This is the final call to all to participate and donate. All donations big and small are welcome. Remember what Páidí said: ‘A grain of rice will tip the scales’.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 21/03/21

Westmeath Coaching & Games Club Coaching Seminar 2021
The Westmeath Coaching and Games Development Committee led by Games Development Manager, Darren Magee have scheduled what promises to be a superb club seminar for Saturday next 27 February. Due to the over whelming response from clubs over the past few weeks it was felt that it was best to run a seminar open to all clubs in Westmeath. This is event is open to all coaches in your club and provides them with an ideal learning opportunity. The topics covered will include (i) Club Nursery- Information and Ideas (Under-5 and Under-6); (ii) Coaching through Covid-19 (Under-7 to Under-11) and (iii) Youth Strength and Conditioning guidelines (Under-13 to Under-17). Each topic will consist of a 40 minute webinar followed by a 30 minute live coaching session. The Youth Strength and Conditioning section for example includes such topics as warm-up activities, body weight exercises and some sample programmes will be delivered. Every coach that attends this seminar (remotely of course!) will get a free 4 week coaching programme pack.

Two New Officers
Two new officers were recently added to the Westmeath GAA managerial team. Dermot Brady has been appointed as Children’s Officer by the Westmeath Executive as per rule and Deirdre Orme (Crookedwood Hurling Club) is the new Westmeath Healthy Club Officer, subject to ratification by the County Committee. Both positions were held by our newly elected County Chairman, Frank Mescall. Neither Dermot or Deirdre need any introduction to the Westmeath GAA community. Dermot Brady wore the Westmeath football jersey with distinction in the 1990s and is a member of a select band of Westmeath footballers to have won Railway Cup medals. Dermot was a panellist in 1996 and a playing member in 1997 of the Leinster team that won the interprovincial title. Deirdre Orme is a familiar figure in Cusack Park and has regularly donned the stewards’ bib and will bring her many talents to the Healthy Club portfolio, one of the great recent initiatives of the GAA.

E-Learning Portal
We are all much more familiar with the wonders of Microsoft Teams and Zoom after all the remote meetings and training courses that we participated in during this era of lockdowns. The GAA’s e-learning portal is recommended to all, and the association is to be commended for the content of the webinars presented and that are now available to access on the portal. There are courses on the platform, some presented by Microsoft specifically for the GAA, that would cost several hundred euro if offered in a private setting. All are available free of charge. A browse through the GAA e-learning portal is recommended. The Microsoft Teams link to access this webinar has been sent to club secretaries.

Congratulations Aonghus
The Westmeath GAA County Committee congratulates Aonghus Clarke on his selection in the key centre-back position on the Joe McDonagh Cup Team of the Year. A fitting reward for a player who has been one of Westmeath’s finest hurlers over the past decade or so.

Remember the Match …
The Occasion: The Leinster senior football championship first round tie between Westmeath and Dublin played in Tullamore on 11 June 1967.
The Result: Westmeath 1-6 Dublin 0-8. The Irish Press banner top-of-the-page headline reading ‘Westmeath shock Dublin’ provided an indication of the extent of the surprise. Reporter Gerry McCarthy (no surprise to a shock result himself as he was goalkeeper on the Waterford team that beat Kerry in the 1957 Munster championship) wrote: ‘Post-match scenes reminiscence of All-Ireland final day were witnessed at O’Connor Park, Tullamore after Westmeath had sensationally knocked Dublin out of the Leinster senior football championship. Midland supporters could not contain their joy at this first championship victory over the city men since 1931 and they rushed on to the field to chair their heroes to the dressing room.’ It was something of a novel pairing as the sides hadn’t crossed paths since 1934 when Dublin finished ahead. The sides had also met in the 1931 Leinster semi-final when Westmeath won on a 2-4 to 1-4 scoreline and in 1932 when Dublin finished 3-7 to 2-5 ahead.
The Match: Newspaper reports are in agreement that the match was a generally poor one with defences on top throughout. ‘A poor game between moderate sides’ was how the Irish Press reported on the fare. The Dublin forwards failed to score from play and it wasn’t until the final minutes that a Westmeath forward pointed from play. A defender, Paddy Cole was identified as Westmeath’s man of the match: ‘He had a brilliant hour and almost single-handed repulsed many first half attacks’. Dublin held an interval lead of 0-5 to 0-2 and were still three points to the good in the 55th minute when Vinny Murray pointed for Westmeath and reduced the Dublin lead to the dangerous one of two points. The spectators who were headed for the exit returned after this score just in time to witness the final drama.
The Key-Moment: After Vinny Murray’s point, Dom Murtagh won possession from the resultant kick-out and quickly returned the ball to the danger area. It was eventually scrambled clear by the Dublin defence and rooted over the sideline fourteen yards from the end line. Westmeath’s best forward on the day, Pat Buckley floated the ball into the goalmouth and it was Tommy Dolan ‘amid a mass of tussling humanity’ who rose highest to get the vital touch that steered the ball past the great Paddy Cullen for one of the most important goals in Westmeath’s Leinster championship history.
There were other important moments too. A great Kevin Higgins save when Mickey Whelan was through, mid-way through the second-half kept Westmeath in the game. ‘The Dublin supporters could only wonder how he managed to make such a save’ the Westmeath Examiner noted. Around the same time, Dom Murtagh and John McKenna began to dominate the mid-field exchanges and this was crucial in deciding the final outcome. It was a day when the selectors made all the right decisions as the half-back line was reconstructed during the game and the three substitutes Mickey Fagan, Vinny Murray and Ray Smyth made a substantial contribution to the victory.
The Team: Westmeath: Kevin Higgins (Mullingar Shamrocks); Paddy Cole (Mullingar Shamrocks), Mal Guilfoyle (Kilbeggan), Paddy Lennon (Maryland); Andy Gillivan (Moate), T. J. Finneran (St Loman’s), Mick Murphy (Ballymore); Dom Murtagh (The Downs), John McKenna (Moate, 0-1); Tommy Dolan (Maryland, 1-0), Mick Carley (The Downs), Seamus Mulligan (The Downs); Pat Buckley (Maryland, 0-3), Paddy Monaghan (Mullingar Shamrocks), Dessie Dolan (Athlone). Substitutes: Mickey Fagan (Finea) for Mick Murphy; Vinny Murray (Clan na Gael, 0-2) for T. J. Finneran; Ray Smyth (The Downs) for Andy Gillivan.
The Significance: A spirited and determined display by a very fit Westmeath team had eliminated one of the favourites for the All-Ireland title. Two of the Dublin team on duty, Paddy Cullen and Jimmy Keaveney were to become legendary figures in the Dublin GAA world of the 1970s. Dublin had won the All-Ireland title in 1963 trained by Brendan Quinn, the same Brendan who now trained the Westmeath team. For the second time in a month, Westmeath supporters returned from Offaly in celebratory mood. The first occasion is a story worth telling and we’ll keep that for next week.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 14/03/21

Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge
Two weeks are now completed in the Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge and while the weather did not show any favours to those who were walking, running or cycling this week there was still a steady stream of people participating and making the important donations that will help to finance the preparation of the Westmeath hurling, camogie, Ladies Gaelic football and Gaelic football teams and part fund the upgrading of TEG Cusack Park. The emphasis in Week 2 was on family participation and on this week of St Patrick’s Day, Westmeath emigrants across the globe are invited to participate and donate in this crusade for the benefit of the entire Westmeath GAA community. The stakes are high in this venture and County Chairman Frank Mescall has set a target for each club affiliated to the County Board to raise €2000 for the ambitious project. The social media profile of the Movathon Lake County challenge is excellent but ultimately its success depends on the response of the clubs of the county.
The Go-Fund me page set up specifically to receive donations can be found at the Official Westmeath GAA Facebook page.
Those taking part are requested to send in the pictures to lakecountychallenge@gmail.com and to use the hashtag #lakecountychallenge and #westmeathgaaoffical when posting on their own social media platforms.

Demographic Report
In 2018, the President of the GAA, John Horan established a task force to examine ways to cater for the needs of clubs arising from the population shift from rural to urban areas. One county from each province was chosen in a what was intended to be a detailed examination of the well being of the clubs and the rate of participation in Gaelic games. Westmeath was chosen as the Leinster province in the study and Frank Mescall, Declan Leonard, Terry McCauge, Aiden Magure, Tom Farrell, Darren Magee and Michael O’Sullivan who acted as secretary to the group engaged with the clubs collecting and tabulating data on a wide range of club activities. Patrick Doherty was also closely associated with the work following his appointment as Operations Manager. Much of this work was carried out in 2019 and the committee members deserve great credit for the diligent way in which the work was approached and completed. As a result of this engagement, the report provides an excellent snapshot of the state of the GAA in the county and a unique insight into the concerns and issues facing the county’s clubs in 2019.The report noted that the population of the county had increased by 40 per cent between 1996 and 2016 and that both urban and rural areas of the county experienced population growth and recognised some limited areas of population decline in the north and south-west. And Westmeath still has a majority of its population classified as rural. The committee divided the county into six Local Area Development Regions (LADR) in order to gain a better understanding of the issues impacting on clubs across the county. Amongst the important conclusions reached was that increases in population was not matched by increased participation levels in most clubs. Independent Teams are, and will continue to be, essential for a number of clubs in the county. The committee recommended that the school links could and should be improved in all areas with each club recommended to have a designated liaison person for the schools in their catchment area. Another important finding was that the present coaching structure for schools and clubs was not fit for purpose and did not serve the needs of the clubs. The schools will continue to receive assistance but the committee recommended that there is a need for more coaching to be allocated to the clubs with an emphasis on ‘Train the Trainer’ and group sessions organised with quality coaches conducting sessions. Based on the findings, a number of time-tabled recommendations were made to be implemented across the LADRs with the appointment of Games Development Administrators and Games Development Officers across the six regions a key recommendation.The work of the demographic committee is now completed and the members will continue to input their expertise as members of the county’s Strategic Development Committee.

Future Stars Athletic Development Programme
During the month of March, Darren Magee and his staff are running the Future Stars Athletic Development Programme using the Microsoft Teams platform. These are live half-hour strength and conditioning sessions for players from Under-13 to Under-17 age groups. The opening session on Monday 8 March attracted an incredible 270 attendees and over 120 tuned in to the Wednesday evening sessions. The Under-13 to Under-15 sessions take place on each Monday from 7.00 to 7.30 pm and the Under-16 and Under-17 sessions are held on Wednesday evenings at the same time and there is still plenty of welcome for newcomers. Registration details are available on any of the Westmeath GAA’s social media pages. The sessions are conducted by Kieran Martin with the support of students of the AIT.

Development Officer
At the recent County Committee meeting the selection of Damien Maher as Development Officer for the county was approved by the club delegates. Damien replaces Billy Boyle who performed Trojan work during his term of office. The post is one that has a limit on the number of years an office holder can serve and Billy was required to stand down after serving five years in the post. We thank Billy for his valuable contribution during his time and wish Damien, a very experienced officer, the best of luck in the post.

Standing Committee on Rules Revision
Westmeath’s Central Council Delegate Tom Hunt has been nominated by the incoming President of the GAA, Larry McCarthy, to serve on the association’s Standing Committee on Rules Revision

Westmeath GAA Notes – 07/03/21

The Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge
The response to the Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge has been very positive and our county players in all four codes have been participants and encouraging their friends and associates to do the same. Officers of the various boards and team managers have also been seen out and about clocking up the kilometres and making the donations to the GoFundMe account which can be found at the WestmeathGAAofficial Facebook page. The money raised through this initiative will be invested equally in our Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and Ladies Gaelic Football county teams (50%) and in the essential refurbishment of TEG Cusack Park to make the venue fit for purpose for our players and patrons. It is essential that this is a success and in a sense the Westmeath GAA community is on trial with this venture. If our playing and development ambitions are to be realised serious amounts of finance will be needed. The Movathon is just the beginning.

This week in the Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge we hope to see lots of families taking part. Some prizes (footballs, hurling balls, helmets etc) will be available on a random basis for family participants. Barry Kelly is doing some motivational work with the referees who are in full support of the history making donate and participate challenge. Conor Moore, that man of many identities, has been clocking up the mileage from the first day. Next week, centred on St Patrick’ s Day, we hope to engage with the Westmeath Diaspora and expect to see Westmeath people all over the world taking part and using the wonders of modern technology to send in the pictures and short videos telling the Westmeath public the story of their involvement. Coralstown native Leanne Quinn has already sent her story all the way from Qatar.

Anyone taking part is asked to send in the pictures to lakecountychallenge@gmail.com and to use the hashtag #lakecountychallenge and #westmeathgaaoffical

Coaching and Games Development: progress report
We might be in lockdown but there is still a fantastic amount of work taking place in coaching and games development in the county led by Darren Magee and his staff. All this work is conducted remotely of course thanks to the magic of Microsoft Teams. It is important that this work is recognised and acknowledged. Webinars and remote sessions may not be ideal but bringing the GAA into people’s homes and displaying the superb content and professional presentations does have certain promotional value for the GAA.

Darren Magee, the former Dublin footballer, is the Games Manager for the county and his primary responsibility is to lead the county’s games development programme, to provide co-ordination and integration, liaise with the club’s and meet their coaching needs whilst working within the structures and programmes developed at Leinster Council level. At the moment the county has four Games Development Administrators (GDAs) employed and two Games Promotion Officers all funded by the Leinster Council and Westmeath GAA. Kieran Martin, Tommy Gallagher, Thomas Mount and Bernie Corroon are the GDAs and Alan Fitzpatrick (Caulry) and Declan Campbell (Kildare) are the GPOs. Kieran Martin’s position is jointly funded with the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) where Kieran is the college’s GAA officer. Both the GPOs and the GDAs work within the Leinster Council structures and their work includes overseeing projects, working with the county development squads, working with primary and post-primary schools and with the clubs of Westmeath in developing their coaches and games promotion programmes. Our county senior football star, Kieran Martin’s responsibilities include the development and delivery of strength and conditioning programmes for the county development squads.

The work of the GDOs and GDAs is conducted within the principles of the Leinster Council’s Turas programme. Turas is the official coach development programme of Leinster GAA and its aim is to assist coaches develop the whole player by providing individualised age appropriate programmes aligned to the player pathway. The player is central, and based on the idea that better coaches make better players, the emphasis is on imparting coaching knowledge and developing a coherent county wide approach to coaching by engaging with coaches and the young players of Westmeath at club, school (both primary and post primary) and academy level.

Some great seminars have been organised and delivered by the games promotion staff in recent weeks. A superb seminar open to all club coaches was delivered on 27 February, a response to club demands. The many topics covered included (i) Club Nursery- Information and Ideas (Under-5 and Under-6); (ii) Coaching through Covid-19 (Under-7 to Under-11) and (iii) Youth Strength and Conditioning guidelines (Under-13 to Under-17). Each topic consisted of a 40 minute webinar followed by a 30 minute live coaching session. The Youth Strength and Conditioning section for example included topics such as warm-up activities, body weight exercises and some sample programmes were also outlined. The coaches that attended this seminar received a 4 week coaching programme pack. Over 400 club coaches both inside and outside the county registered for this three hour seminar which was a brilliant response and the type of positive engagement that points in the right direction for Westmeath GAA. Coaches registered for the sessions that were most relevant to their needs and their clubs; over 200 took part in the nursery session and over 260 logged into Tommy Gallagher’s strength and conditioning session and Alan Fitzpatrick’s Under 7-11 presentation.

During the month of March, Darren Magee and his staff are running the Future Stars Athletic Development Programme using the Microsoft Teams platform. These are live half-hour strength and conditioning sessions for players from Under-13 to Under-17 and began on Monday evening (8 March) and will continue to the end of the month. The Under-13 to Under-15 sessions take place on each Monday from 7.00 to 7.30 pm and the Under-16 and Under-17 sessions take place on Wednesday evenings at the same time. Registration details are available on any of the Westmeath GAA’s social media pages. The sessions are conducted by Kieran Martin with the support of students of the AIT.

In addition, and again based on feedback from seminars and responding to the needs of clubs, live on line sessions are being delivered on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings over the next two weeks for the Under-7 (Nursery) to Under-11 age groups focusing on the skills of hurling and football presented by the Coaching and Games Development staff. The hour long sessions for the Nursery group takes place on Saturday morning from 10.00-11.00 am and on Friday for the Under-8s to Under-11s from 6.30-7.30 pm. The emphasis is on developing fun activities with skill demonstrations in hurling and football using items found around the household and organising simple games. Club coaches engaging with these sessions become are introduced to appropriate skills and will in turn present their own sessions at a later date.

There were also other very worthwhile contributions: Jack Cooney and Shane O’Brien delivered well supported webinars on the theme of ‘Fitness with the Ball’ which was very positively received; individual clubs including Mullingar Shamrocks, Shandonagh and Cullion had e-learning coaching workshops delivered; during lockdown engagement with schools included a combination of live internet sessions and pre-recorded sessions and at post-primary level Tommy Gallagher and Thomas Mount delivered an on-line Transition Year course that enabled participants to achieve a Foundation Level Westmeath coaching qualification and a Go-Games referee qualification.

The next stage of the work will involve the delivery of a more formal coach education programme where the staff will work with club coaches to achieve Foundation and Award 1 level certification.

All this work is supported by the Westmeath Coaching and Games Committee which is chaired by the county’s Coaching Officer, Niall O’Brien (Rosemount). This committee of Johnny Greville, Keith Quinn, Ronan Farrell, Ollie Baker, Jack Cooney, John Keane, Joe Fallon, Dara Ferrriter with Darren Magee as secretary has held a number of meetings since it was ratified by the County Committee. This committee plans to concentrate on a number of key areas over the weeks and months ahead and in particular it intends to maximise the promotion of the GAA in Westmeath and on developing a player and coaching pathway.
You can keep in touch with the work of the Coaching and Games Development people by following on twitter @coachingwh and by checking into westmeathgaaofficial Facebook pages or on the @wesmteathgaaofficial twitter feed.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 28/02/21

The Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge
The unique collaborative fundraising event with the Westmeath GAA, Westmeath Ladies Gaelic Football and Westmeath Camogie combining their efforts to raise the finance essential to allow their respective teams compete at the highest level is now underway. Launched on Monday by county chairman Frank Mescall in association with Kieran Martin, Fiona Keating, Fiona Claffey and Cormac Boyle, the initiative will continue until Easter Monday, 5 April and hopefully our inter-county squads will be given the all-clear to resume training later that week. It is vital that all Westmeath supporters, clubs and players commit to supporting this venture and make a contribution to the GoFundMe page set up specifically for the purpose. This can be found at the Westmeath GAA Facebook page. The ambitious ones might set a goal to run, swim, walk or cycle for each day of the month of March, the less ambitious might just commit to engaging in more physical activity for the month. There is no minimum required in terms of physical activity. And if you wish you can make a donation to the fund without leaving your chair.
A donation without participation is more than acceptable too and remember half the money raised will be assigned to the hurling, football, Ladies Gaelic football and camogie teams; the remainder will go to funding the essential refurbishment of TEG Cusack Park.

TEG Cusack Park
The good news confirmed at Monday night’s meeting of the County Committee was that one of county’s great indigenous companies TEG are to continue their sponsorship of Westmeath GAA for the next five years through the purchase of the naming rights of TEG Cusack Park. At Monday night’s County Committee meeting, Chairman Frank Mescall thanked TEG company directors, Tommy Kelly and John Hunt for their continued and valuable support of Westmeath GAA in a time of difficult financial circumstances.

Team Management
Team Managers for all county teams are now and place and ratified following Monday night’s County Committee meeting. Jack Cooney and Shane O’Brien continue with their good work with the senior football and hurling squads. Vinnie Cox takes charge of the county minor footballers and Damien Gavin continues his good work with the Under-20 footballers. Kevin O’Brien continues in charge of the Under-20 hurlers whilst Noel Conaty and Fintan Clarke join forces as managers of the minor hurlers. It is important that the work of Joe Giles and his team is also recognised; a team that spared no effort to progress the minor footballers under their care.

TEG Cusack Park Development
Plans are currently being prepared for a phased upgrade of Cusack Park to make the famous venue a more presentable and comfortable venue for all the interested parties that make up the Westmeath GAA community. The intended programme of work includes a power washing and painting plan, replacement and improvement of ball stops (good news for football clubs in particular), re-roofing the stand, replacing the present seating in the stand with bucket seating, improvement in toilet facilities especially the ladies toilets, improved disability facilities and upgrade of dressing rooms, showers and toilets. The development will be part funded by €127,000 of grant aid received from the Leader Fund. Application is also made for Sports Capital Funding but the bulk of the funding will have to be raised by the County Committee working in conjunction with the clubs and supporters across the county and of course Club Iarmhí.

Congress 2021
The 2021 GAA Congress got underway at 10.04 a.m. and concluded a few minutes short of 5. 00 pm on Saturday when newly inaugurated president Larry McCarthy concluded his impressive opening address. Westmeath were represented by Pat Reilly and Tom Hunt from the safety of their own homes. It was a historic occasion in many ways and one of the few occasions that every motion on the clár was passed. The split season happened out of the Coivd-19 induced necessity and after the congress is now a reality, as the delegates assembled remotely, voted by acclaim to accept Motion 12 which made the concept a reality. One of the great radical changes in the history of the association was overshadowed by the publicity surrounding the proposed sin bin and penalty stroke in hurling, and the concept that was considered to be a step too far and too radical by the Calendar Review Task Force in their deliberations, was accepted without debate at congress. The motion accepted provided for the playing of the All-Ireland football final on the twenty-ninth or thirtieth Sunday of the year bringing the inter-inter county season to an end. The impact of this rule is to introduce the split season to the GAA fixture calendar and assigns a maximum of 29 weekends to inter-county activity (including pre-season) and the remainder of the season to club only. This guarantees a lengthy closed season at inter-county level and an uninterrupted club championship season for clubs and brings to an end any ambiguity over player availability.

Motion 20 (overwhelmingly rejected by Westmeath club delegates) which proposed the introduction of the sin bin to hurling and football for certain specified fouls that denied a goal scoring opportunity inside the 20-metre line and the arc and the award of penalties in both codes for the specified offences was passed on a 61/39 per cent majority. This rule change will apply for one year only on an experimental basis and will only apply at inter-county level in the National Leagues and the All-Ireland championships at senior level in both codes.
Another significant motion accepted by acclaim introduced yellow and red card offences to team officials for a range of infractions similar to those applicable to players and the replacement of time suspensions by match suspensions for red card infractions committed by team officials. The Maor Foirne also had his run terminated when Congress accepted the motion specifying that ‘a team official shall not enter the field of play’ except with the referee’s permission to examine an injured player.

Central Council Appointments
In a brief Central Council meeting held after the annual congress, two Westmeath officials were appointed to the GAA’s equivalent of the High Court. Matt Shaw (Clonkill) was appointed Chairman of the Central Appeals Committee and former Westmeath County Committee chairman, Tom Farrell (Tang) was appointed to the same committee.

Foireann na Bliana 2020 – Idirmheanach
Westmeath GAA extends its congratulations to Rachel Dillon (Milltown), Lucy Power (The Downs), Fiona Claffey (Foxrock-Cabinteely) and Anna Jones (Mullingar Shamrocks) on their selection on the LGFA All-Ireland Team of the Intermediate Championship 2020. A well-deserved recognition for the four players for their outstanding displays for Westmeath in the championship campaign. Some more Westmeath players can consider themselves unlucky not to have gained recognition.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 21/02/21

Westmeath Coaching & Games Club Coaching Seminar 2021
The Westmeath Coaching and Games Development Committee led by Games Development Manager, Darren Magee have scheduled what promises to be a superb club seminar for Saturday next 27 February. Due to the over whelming response from clubs over the past few weeks it was felt that it was best to run a seminar open to all clubs in Westmeath. This is event is open to all coaches in your club and provides them with an ideal learning opportunity. The topics covered will include (i) Club Nursery- Information and Ideas (Under-5 and Under-6); (ii) Coaching through Covid-19 (Under-7 to Under-11) and (iii) Youth Strength and Conditioning guidelines (Under-13 to Under-17). Each topic will consist of a 40 minute webinar followed by a 30 minute live coaching session. The Youth Strength and Conditioning section for example includes such topics as warm-up activities, body weight exercises and some sample programmes will be delivered. Every coach that attends this seminar (remotely of course!) will get a free 4 week coaching programme pack.

Two New Officers
Two new officers were recently added to the Westmeath GAA managerial team. Dermot Brady has been appointed as Children’s Officer by the Westmeath Executive as per rule and Deirdre Orme (Crookedwood Hurling Club) is the new Westmeath Healthy Club Officer, subject to ratification by the County Committee. Both positions were held by our newly elected County Chairman, Frank Mescall. Neither Dermot or Deirdre need any introduction to the Westmeath GAA community. Dermot Brady wore the Westmeath football jersey with distinction in the 1990s and is a member of a select band of Westmeath footballers to have won Railway Cup medals. Dermot was a panellist in 1996 and a playing member in 1997 of the Leinster team that won the interprovincial title. Deirdre Orme is a familiar figure in Cusack Park and has regularly donned the stewards’ bib and will bring her many talents to the Healthy Club portfolio, one of the great recent initiatives of the GAA.

E-Learning Portal
We are all much more familiar with the wonders of Microsoft Teams and Zoom after all the remote meetings and training courses that we participated in during this era of lockdowns. The GAA’s e-learning portal is recommended to all, and the association is to be commended for the content of the webinars presented and that are now available to access on the portal. There are courses on the platform, some presented by Microsoft specifically for the GAA, that would cost several hundred euro if offered in a private setting. All are available free of charge. A browse through the GAA e-learning portal is recommended. The Microsoft Teams link to access this webinar has been sent to club secretaries.

Congratulations Aonghus
The Westmeath GAA County Committee congratulates Aonghus Clarke on his selection in the key centre-back position on the Joe McDonagh Cup Team of the Year. A fitting reward for a player who has been one of Westmeath’s finest hurlers over the past decade or so.

Remember the Match …
The Occasion: The Leinster senior football championship first round tie between Westmeath and Dublin played in Tullamore on 11 June 1967.
The Result: Westmeath 1-6 Dublin 0-8. The Irish Press banner top-of-the-page headline reading ‘Westmeath shock Dublin’ provided an indication of the extent of the surprise. Reporter Gerry McCarthy (no surprise to a shock result himself as he was goalkeeper on the Waterford team that beat Kerry in the 1957 Munster championship) wrote: ‘Post-match scenes reminiscence of All-Ireland final day were witnessed at O’Connor Park, Tullamore after Westmeath had sensationally knocked Dublin out of the Leinster senior football championship. Midland supporters could not contain their joy at this first championship victory over the city men since 1931 and they rushed on to the field to chair their heroes to the dressing room.’ It was something of a novel pairing as the sides hadn’t crossed paths since 1934 when Dublin finished ahead. The sides had also met in the 1931 Leinster semi-final when Westmeath won on a 2-4 to 1-4 scoreline and in 1932 when Dublin finished 3-7 to 2-5 ahead.
The Match: Newspaper reports are in agreement that the match was a generally poor one with defences on top throughout. ‘A poor game between moderate sides’ was how the Irish Press reported on the fare. The Dublin forwards failed to score from play and it wasn’t until the final minutes that a Westmeath forward pointed from play. A defender, Paddy Cole was identified as Westmeath’s man of the match: ‘He had a brilliant hour and almost single-handed repulsed many first half attacks’. Dublin held an interval lead of 0-5 to 0-2 and were still three points to the good in the 55th minute when Vinny Murray pointed for Westmeath and reduced the Dublin lead to the dangerous one of two points. The spectators who were headed for the exit returned after this score just in time to witness the final drama.
The Key-Moment: After Vinny Murray’s point, Dom Murtagh won possession from the resultant kick-out and quickly returned the ball to the danger area. It was eventually scrambled clear by the Dublin defence and rooted over the sideline fourteen yards from the end line. Westmeath’s best forward on the day, Pat Buckley floated the ball into the goalmouth and it was Tommy Dolan ‘amid a mass of tussling humanity’ who rose highest to get the vital touch that steered the ball past the great Paddy Cullen for one of the most important goals in Westmeath’s Leinster championship history.
There were other important moments too. A great Kevin Higgins save when Mickey Whelan was through, mid-way through the second-half kept Westmeath in the game. ‘The Dublin supporters could only wonder how he managed to make such a save’ the Westmeath Examiner noted. Around the same time, Dom Murtagh and John McKenna began to dominate the mid-field exchanges and this was crucial in deciding the final outcome. It was a day when the selectors made all the right decisions as the half-back line was reconstructed during the game and the three substitutes Mickey Fagan, Vinny Murray and Ray Smyth made a substantial contribution to the victory.
The Team: Westmeath: Kevin Higgins (Mullingar Shamrocks); Paddy Cole (Mullingar Shamrocks), Mal Guilfoyle (Kilbeggan), Paddy Lennon (Maryland); Andy Gillivan (Moate), T. J. Finneran (St Loman’s), Mick Murphy (Ballymore); Dom Murtagh (The Downs), John McKenna (Moate, 0-1); Tommy Dolan (Maryland, 1-0), Mick Carley (The Downs), Seamus Mulligan (The Downs); Pat Buckley (Maryland, 0-3), Paddy Monaghan (Mullingar Shamrocks), Dessie Dolan (Athlone). Substitutes: Mickey Fagan (Finea) for Mick Murphy; Vinny Murray (Clan na Gael, 0-2) for T. J. Finneran; Ray Smyth (The Downs) for Andy Gillivan.
The Significance: A spirited and determined display by a very fit Westmeath team had eliminated one of the favourites for the All-Ireland title. Two of the Dublin team on duty, Paddy Cullen and Jimmy Keaveney were to become legendary figures in the Dublin GAA world of the 1970s. Dublin had won the All-Ireland title in 1963 trained by Brendan Quinn, the same Brendan who now trained the Westmeath team. For the second time in a month, Westmeath supporters returned from Offaly in celebratory mood. The first occasion is a story worth telling and we’ll keep that for next week.

Westmeath GAA Notes – 14/02/21

Two New Officers
Two new officers were recently added to the Westmeath GAA managerial team. Dermot Brady has been appointed as Children’s Officer by the Westmeath Executive as per rule and Deirdre Orme (Crookedwood Hurling Club) is the new Westmeath Healthy Club Officer, subject to ratification by the County Committee. Both positions were held by our newly elected County Chairman, Frank Mescall. Neither Dermot or Deirdre need any introduction to the Westmeath GAA community. Dermot Brady wore the Westmeath football jersey with distinction in the 1990s and is a member of a select band of Westmeath footballers to have won Railway Cup medals. Dermot was a panellist in 1996 and a playing member in 1997 of the Leinster team that won the interprovincial title. Deirdre Orme is a familiar figure in Cusack Park and has regularly donned the stewards bib and will bring her many talents to the Healthy Club portfolio, one of the great recent initiatives of the GAA.

E-Learning Portal
We are all much more familiar with the wonders of Microsoft Teams and Zoom after all the remote meetings and training courses that we participated in during this era of lockdowns. The GAA’s e-learning portal is recommended to all, and the association is to be commended for the content of the webinars presented and that are now available to access on the portal. There are courses on the platform, some presented by Microsoft specifically for the GAA, that would cost several hundred euro if offered in a private setting. All are available free of charge. This week alone six courses are available. On today (Tuesday) as part of the Club Leadership Development programme training webinars are on offer for Microsoft Excel, Microsoft One Drive and Forms, An Ghaeilge sa Chlub, and one entitled GAA Club Initiatives from the community. On tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11.00am there is a webinar on Microsoft Forms (1) and at 7.00pm there is a session entitled Essential Training for Data Protection. Pre-registration is required, but as stated, if you miss an event of interest it can later be accessed. A browse through the GAA e-learning portal is recommended.

Remember the Match …
The Occasion: The Leinster senior football championship first round tie between Westmeath and Dublin played in Tullamore on 11 June 1967.

The Result: Westmeath 1-6 Dublin 0-8. The Irish Press banner top-of-the-page headline reading ‘Westmeath shock Dublin’ provided an indication of the extent of the surprise. Reporter Gerry McCarthy (no surprise to a shock result himself as he was goalkeeper on the Waterford team that beat Kerry in the 1957 Munster championship) wrote: ‘Post-match scenes reminiscence of All-Ireland final day were witnessed at O’Connor Park, Tullamore after Westmeath had sensationally knocked Dublin out of the Leinster senior football championship. Midland supporters could not contain their joy at this first championship victory over the city men since 1931 and they rushed on to the field to chair their heroes to the dressing room.’ It was something of a novel pairing as the sides hadn’t crossed paths since 1934 when Dublin finished ahead. The sides had also met in the 1931 Leinster semi-final when Westmeath won on a 2-4 to 1-4 scoreline and in 1932 when Dublin finished 3-7 to 2-5 ahead.

The Match: Newspaper reports are in agreement that the match was a generally poor one with defences on top throughout. ‘A poor game between moderate sides’ was how the Irish Press reported on the fare. The Dublin forwards failed to score from play and it wasn’t until the final minutes that a Westmeath forward pointed from play. A defender, Paddy Cole was identified as Westmeath’s man of the match: ‘He had a brilliant hour and almost single-handed repulsed many first half attacks’. Dublin held an interval lead of 0-5 to 0-2 and were still three points to the good in the 55th minute when Vinny Murray pointed for Westmeath and reduced the Dublin lead to the dangerous one of two points. The spectators who were headed for the exit returned after this score just in time to witness the final drama.

The Key-Moment: After Vinny Murray’s point, Dom Murtagh won possession from the resultant kick-out and quickly returned the ball to the danger area. It was eventually scrambled clear by the Dublin defence and rooted over the sideline fourteen yards from the end line. Westmeath’s best forward on the day, Pat Buckley floated the ball into the goalmouth and it was Tommy Dolan ‘amid a mass of tussling humanity’ who rose highest to get the vital touch that steered the ball past the great Paddy Cullen for one of the most important goals in Westmeath’s Leinster championship history.

There were other important moments too. A great Kevin Higgins save when Mickey Whelan was through, mid-way through the second-half kept Westmeath in the game. ‘The Dublin supporters could only wonder how he managed to make such a save’ the Westmeath Examiner noted. Around the same time, Dom Murtagh and John McKenna began to dominate the mid-field exchanges and this was crucial in deciding the final outcome. It was a day when the selectors made all the right decisions as the half-back line was reconstructed during the game and the three substitutes Mickey Fagan, Vinny Murray and Ray Smyth made a substantial contribution to the victory.
The Team: Westmeath: Kevin Higgins (Mullingar Shamrocks); Paddy Cole (Mullingar Shamrocks), Mal Guilfoyle (Kilbeggan), Paddy Lennon (Maryland); Andy Gillivan (Moate), T. J. Finneran (St Loman’s), Mick Murphy (Ballymore); Dom Murtagh (The Downs), John McKenna (Moate, 0-1); Tommy Dolan (Maryland, 1-0), Mick Carley (The Downs), Seamus Mulligan (The Downs); Pat Buckley (Maryland, 0-3), Paddy Monaghan (Mullingar Shamrocks), Dessie Dolan (Athlone). Substitutes: Mickey Fagan (Finea) for Mick Murphy; Vinny Murray (Clan na Gael, 0-2) for T. J. Finneran; Ray Smyth (The Downs) for Andy Gillivan.

The Significance: A spirited and determined display by a very fit Westmeath team had eliminated one of the favourites for the All-Ireland title. Two of the Dublin team on duty, Paddy Cullen and Jimmy Keaveney were to become legendary figures in the Dublin GAA world of the 1970s. Dublin had won the All-Ireland title in 1963 trained by Brendan Quinn, the same Brendan who now trained the Westmeath team. For the second time in a month, Westmeath supporters returned from Offaly in celebratory mood. The first occasion is a story worth telling and we’ll keep that for next week.

 

Westmeath GAA Notes – 07/02/21

Named Players and Re-grading
Clubs are reminded that Wednesday, next February 10, is the final date for submission of list of named players for 2011 championships and leagues.

Lockdown 3
With little prospect of activity in the foreseeable futuren it is interesting to look back on what was happening in the world of Westmeath GAA over the first weekend in February, a decade ago. It wasn’t all plain sailing as Westmeath’s opening Division 3 NFL match against Louth was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch in Drogheda. Pat Flanagan was the manager in 2011. The ACL in football was underway and rounds were played in Div. 4, Div. 5 and Div. 6. The last weekend in January was used for unfinished business from 2010 and a number finals were played. Clonkill defeated Lough Lene Gaels (2-18 to 1-4) to win the county Under-21 Hurling title and Tyrrellspass defeated Mullingar Shamrocks 1-8 to 0-8 in the Feis Cup final. Fr Dalton’s, powered by the accuracy of Colum Mackey who scored 0-8, were too strong for Crookedwood and finished 1-11 to 0-9 ahead in the 2010 Intermediate Cup final. At this time also the decision was made to play all Under-12 competitions using the Go-Games model. Paul Greville was the winner of the Westmeath Examiner Sports Star of the Year award, John Heslin for his exploits with St Loman’s and Castletown Geoghegan was a popular winner of the young Sports Star of the Year award and Mick Carley was elevated to the Hall of Fame. And county PRO, Pat Reilly in his Westmeath Notes advised clubs that with an election scheduled, ‘they cannot allow their premises to be used for party political purposes’.

Annual Congress
GAA history will be made on the double on 27 February when the association’s annual congress will be staged remotely for the first time. The extent of county representation has yet to be decided but a truncated agenda is essential because of the challenges involved. The Ard Stiúrthoir’s report will form part of the agenda but only motions that do not require detailed debate and examination will be addressed.
However one motion that is scheduled for discussion has the potential to have a significant impact on how the games of hurling and football are played in this year’s All-Ireland championship. It was intended to postpone consideration of this motion to a later debate but following the intervention of John Gleeson (Tipperary), Tom Hunt (Westmeath) and Ned Quinn (Kilkenny) it was decided to include the motion on the congress agenda.

The radical motion from the Rules Review Committee is designed to eliminate ‘Aggressive Disruptive Behaviour’ by players to prevent goal scoring opportunities. The proposed rule change is framed in the form of an Emergency Rule that will only operate in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling and Football Championships of 2021. In simple terms the motion proposes that if a team is denied a goal scoring opportunity, as a result of an aggressive infraction committed either inside or outside the Large Rectangle, a penalty will be awarded to the team affected. This is the really radical part of the proposal as a penalty kick/puck will now be awarded when a goal scoring opportunity has been denied even if the foul was committed outside the Large Rectangle. The thinking behind the proposal is that the advantage denied to the team is restored by awarding the penalty. A period in the sin bin for the hurler or footballer committing the infraction is also part of the proposed rule change.

History will also be made when Larry McCarthy succeeds John Horan as President of the GAA. Larry, a native of Cork and a man who has given long and dedicated service to the New York GAA, is the first member of an overseas unit to be elected to the highest office in the association. Westmeath GAA members wish Larry the best of luck in what is likely to be a challenging time in office.

By Tom Hunt
Communications Committee
Westmeath Gaa

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