As Westmeath struggled against a 13-man Louth side in last Saturday week's All-Ireland qualifier, one home supporter was heard to say: "Even if we win this, we won't be able to celebrate it."
You could see where he was coming from. No doubt, relief was the dominant emotion among players, management and supporters after Westmeath fell over the line with a flattering 1-15 to 0-12 victory.
The draw for the second round of the All-Ireland qualifiers offered little respite, with traditional football aristocrats Kerry pitted against Westmeath.
Sunday's clash (Cusack Park, 3pm) will be the first senior football championship meeting between Westmeath and Kerry.
There were hopes of a momentous All-Ireland semi-final between the counties in 2004, which would have seen then Westmeath manager Páidí " Sé in opposition to his native Kerry. However, Derry carried out the role of party-poopers by ending Westmeath's hopes of making progress in the All-Ireland series, following their Leinster championship success. On the same day, Kerry defeated Dublin in their All-Ireland quarter-final en route to another All-Ireland title.
But there have been some noteworthy battles between Westmeath and Kerry. And when the qualifier draw pitted the sides against each other, it triggered memories of Westmeath's famous All-Ireland U21 final victory over Kerry in 1999. That Kerry team was managed by Jack O'Connor, who has since guided the Kingdom to three All-Ireland senior titles.
Back in 2009, Kerry had some narrow escapes in the All-Ireland Qualifiers, with relatively unheralded teams Longford, Sligo and Antrim all causing the Kingdom problems. Sligo went particularly close to a famous victory. Kerry survived those frights and delivered a masterclass against Dublin in the last eight.
Can Westmeath cause a similar scare? Looking at their most recent performance against Louth, it looks highly unlikely but one cannot read too much into that disjointed and incident-packed game. Pat Flanagan did not pull any punches in the aftermath, saying his team "never performed at all" and "lost our way completely" after Louth had two players sent off. He even said: "We were going around like headless chickens."
One plus for Westmeath going into Sunday's game is the lack of expectation. Having suffered five defeats in a row to Louth over the past three seasons, Westmeath were under pressure to lay that bogey to rest. Now that they are facing one of the game's major powers, nobody expects anything from Westmeath. In a sense, they can go out and express themselves .
On the other hand, taking Kerry on with a traditional orthodox formation might be viewed as highly foolhardy. Westmeath paid the price for not protecting their full-back line against Wexford last year.
Pat Flanagan has been sometimes criticised, often unfairly, for being too defensive in his tactics, though it's true that Westmeath have struggled to get the balance right between defence and attack. Yet a more legitimate complaint would be the lack of alacrity in making substitutions and switches.
Callum McCormack has done so well as a substitute this season that one can understand Flanagan's decision to hold him back as a weapon to spring from the bench. However, given the number of established forwards Westmeath are without this year - Dessie Dolan, Paul Greville and Conor Lynam - leaving McCormack on the bench is a luxury that surely cannot be afforded any longer.
The Maryland clubman is one of the few Westmeath players who can score points from long range and he is really developing into the type of forward his underage potential always promised.
Surely, it's time to give McCormack a chance from the start. Michael Ennis has been one of Westmeath's greatest players of recent decades, but injuries and miles on the clock have taken their toll. At this juncture, Ennis could play a valuable role as an impact sub; expecting him to perform at the required level from the start seems a tall order.
Ger Egan's recent display against Louth was highly encouraging. Having struggled to show his best form in Navan, he was many people's choice as man of the match the last day. Even when things aren't going his way, Egan always shows the right attitude.Paul Sharry's ability to attack at pace from centre half-back has given Westmeath a different dimension. But if Sharry is given the licence to attack, other players need to cover the gaps.
During their league campaign, Kerry produced some impressive displays, defeating Cork, Dublin and Donegal. However, Kerry's produced a stuttering performance in beating Tipperary in their Munster championship opener. And their display in losing to Cork led many pundits to re-examine their All-Ireland credentials.
Still, Kerry possess so many attacking threats that it will be hard for Westmeath to know where to start in their attempts to curb them.
Maintaining Division 2 status was one of Flanagan's key objectives for the season and it has been achieved. Another was to defeat Louth in the Leinster championship first round - a target which was snatched away in cruel fashion though wasteful shooting on Westmeath's part was also a major factor.
Even in defeat, that performance was a significant improvement on the displays in last year's championship. Ironically, the performance level regressed considerably in the rematch, even though this time Westmeath found themselves in the winners' enclosure. Whatever about the result on Sunday, Westmeath fans will be hoping for a competitive performance.