Despite being tagged as underdogs by the bookies, Westmeath's senior hurlers will travel to Wexford Park for this Saturday's All-Ireland SHC Qualifier with nothing but a win on their minds, according to manager Brian Hanley.
"The lads can't have anything other than high hopes for Saturday," Hanley told the Westmeath Independent ahead of the preliminary round tie against hosts Wexford (7.30pm). "We're going down there for a win."
Although the Model County are widely tipped to bounce back strongly from their Leinster championship defeat at the hands of Offaly, they are likely to meet the fittest and most confident Lake County outfit in recent memory.
Buoyed by a magnificent opening round win against Antrim in Leinster, followed by a strong attacking display against Galway in Cusack (in which Westmeath raided the Tribes' rearguard for 4-12), Hanley hopes that the lessons learned from these two games will combine against Wexford.
"If we defend the way we did against Antrim, and attack the way we did against Galway and combine the two for the Wexford game, then we're going places," he said.
Happy to report no new injuries after the weekend's programme of senior and intermediate football matches, Hanley will be keeping faith with a similar line-up of players. Although John Gilligan (Fr Dalton's) picked up a knock playing for Ballymore, he is expected to be available.
All eyes will be on Castletown-Geoghegan forward Niall O'Brien, the Lake County's top scorer in championship hurling so far.
"Niall is a great young lad, and he made a great start to the club championship for Castletown," Hanley remarked. "If he scores as much as he did against Galway, it'd be great.
"But he's not even 18 years of age, and I'm not going to expect too much, or put too much pressure on him."
O'Brien will more easily thrive if Westmeath's more experienced players, like Brendan Murtagh, John Shaw and Paul Greville, play to their full potential.
This combination is expected to put Wexford under greater pressure than in 1995, when the sides last met. On that occasion, the Martin Storey-led Model outfit hammered Westmeath 6-23 to 1-7 in a Leinster quarter-final.
The winners of Saturday's Qualifier face Carlow in the next round.