The final scoreline of the O'Byrne Cup game between Westmeath and Dublin last month, as seen on the Cusack Park scoreboard. The teams meet again this Sunday. Photo: John McCauley.
By Kieran Galvin
As Westmeath prepare to host All-Ireland champions Dublin at Cusack Park this Sunday, the county board has given 100 free tickets to all football clubs in the Lake County.
These tickets will allow all persons under 16 free admission to all of Westmeath's home matches in this year's Allianz Football League once they are accompanied by an adult. The tickets were sent out by the Westmeath football committee as part of an initiative to increase support for the Westmeath footballers.
Westmeath's home matches in this year's Division 1 campaign are Sunday's clash against the Dubs (throw-in: 2pm), a meeting with 2013 All-Ireland finalists Mayo (March 9) and the visit of Kerry on March 30.
Clubs have been asked to actively distribute the free tickets and inform supporters through their club text system, their weekly notes in local papers, and through the schools adjacent to the clubs of this initiative. A number of clubs have details about this initiative in their club notes in this week's Westmeath Independent.
"We urge all clubs to please get behind the Westmeath football team for 2014 and help us to get out support for the team that they so richly deserve," said Westmeath GAA PRO Aidan Walsh.
This Sunday's game will see Westmeath take on the reigning Allianz FL, Leinster and All-Ireland champions, something which underlines the challenge facing the Lake men.
Adding further spice to the game is the fact that Westmeath manager Paul Bealin will be in opposition to his native county. Bealin won an All-Ireland medal with the Dubs in 1995 when they edged out Tyrone, on the same day that Westmeath defeated Derry in the All-Ireland minor football final.
Westmeath were narrowly defeated by Dublin in the O'Byrne Cup last month, but the bigger prize of two precious league points will be stake this Sunday.
After Westmeath were defeated by Cork last weekend (0-18 to 0-10), Bealin was optimistic that John Heslin would be fit for Sunday, despite the injury that forced his withdrawal in the closing stages against the Rebels.
Moate CS v St Pat's postponed again
Moate Community School's Leinster Schools SF 'A' Round 2 clash against St Pat's, Navan has been postponed for a second time.
It was originally meant to be played last Saturday before being postponed until tonight (Wednesday). However, it has since been rescheduled for tomorrow evening (Thursday, February 6). The venue for Moate's clash with the Leinster champions is Pairc Tailteann (the throw-in time is now 6.30pm).
The draw for the quarter-finals was made earlier this week and it threw up the possibility of an all-Westmeath clash - IF Moate can overcome the difficult task of defeating St Pat's. The draw is as follows.
Leinster Schools SF 'A' Quarter-finals
1. Marist Athlone v Wicklow Schools
2. Knockbeg College v Good Counsel College
3. St. Pat’s Navan / Moate CS v St. Joseph’s Rochfortbridge
4. St. Peter’s Wexford v Col Eoin
1 v 2
3 v 4
*See this week's Westmeath Independent for a report, pictures and reaction from last Sunday's Allianz FL opener away to Cork. In addition, there are reports and pictures from Marist College's win over Castleknock CC and Athlone CC's defeat to Wicklow Schools.