By Kieran Galvin
Ray Connellan has been selected at midfield for Westmeath’s Allianz Football League Division 1 clash against Kerry this Sunday (Cusack Park 3pm).
The Athlone player has impressed in attack during this year’s league campaign, and now he has been given the opportunity to impress at midfield alongside David Duffy.
And one surprising inclusion among the Westmeath subs is former All-Star Gary Connaughton, who announced his retirement from inter-county football at the end of last season.
With Darren Quinn injured, the Tubberclair man is providing cover on the bench for Stephen Gallagher, who is selected to start between the sticks.
In total, there are four changes in the Westmeath team from the defeat to Tyrone last time out.
In addition to the inclusion of Gallagher and Connellan, Caulry’s Damien Dolan and Garrycastle’s Doron Harte have been drafted into the defence.
Westmeath need to win on Sunday, and their last game away to Kildare on April 6, to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
Kerry have bounced back from defeats in the opening three rounds to win their last two games. On the other hand, Westmeath have yet to register a point having lost all five games thus far.
With Kerry still in with a chance of making the semi-finals, the Kingdom are warm favourites to collect the points on Sunday.
Westmeath can pull off a shock - Mulligan
One observer who is giving Westmeath a good chance of causing a surprise is former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan.
Writing in his column in the Irish Daily Mail today (Friday), Mulligan had the following to say.
“Kerry just might not have it their own way in Mullingar on Sunday. Westmeath are not a good team on the road but, at home, it’s a different story. Mullingar boasts a tight pitch with a hostile atmosphere and the crowd are on top of you. And as for the Joe Dolan songs they play at half-time, well they’re just plain frightening!
“I called the Derry result against Dublin, and I am sticking my neck out again by saying this could be the upset of round six. I know it makes little sense, considering Kerry have the best defensive record in the League and Westmeath are the lowest scorers, but I just think Westmeath have showed glimpses of good football despite losing all their games so far.
“If they can get some consistency, then maybe there is one big result in them this spring. The trap door is not shut yet, but it will be if they don’t win this.”
Westmeath SF Team v Kerry
1. Stephen Gallagher (St Loman's Mullingar)
2. Steven Gilmore (St Loman's Mullingar)
3. Kieran Gavin (Mullingar Shamrocks)
4. Kevin Maguire (Caulry)
5. Damien Dolan (Caulry)
6. Paul Sharry (Captain) (St Loman's Mullingar)
7. Doron Harte (Garrycastle)
8. David Duffy (Shandonagh)
9. Ray Connellan (Athlone)
10. Callum McCormack (Maryland)
11. Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass)
12. Kieran Martin (Maryland)
13. James Dolan (Garrycastle)
14. Dessie Dolan (Garrycastle)
15. Denis Glennon (Tyrrellspass)
Gary Connaughton (Tubberclair), 17. Shane Flynn (St Loman's Mullingar), 18. Ronan Foley (Coralstown/Kinnegad), 19. John Egan (Athlone), 20. Alan Giles (Coralstown/Kinnegad), 21. David McCormack (Rosemount), 22. David Whelan (St Loman's Mullingar), 23. David Lynch (St Malachy's), 24. Alan Coffey (Tubberclair), 25. Killian Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks).
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