Westmeath hurling event set to kick off sporting weekend 

Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath will be among the special guests at a Westmeath hurling fundraiser tonight (Friday) in the Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar.

The event will also raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society, with doors opening at 7.30pm.

McGrath led Waterford to an All-Ireland senior final appearance in 2017 and he will be joined by another former Waterford manager Michael Ryan, who was a popular figure during his time as Westmeath hurling boss.  

Former Galway dual star Alan Kerins - now part of the Westmeath hurling backroom team - and former Kilkenny ace Richie Power will also be in attendance. Also taking part on the night will be the All-Ireland winning Westmeath camogie manager Johnny Greville and members of the panel, as well as the county’s senior hurling manager Shane O’Brien and some of his players.

The hurling discussion, which will be conducted in a questions and answers format, will be interspersed with music from talented artists.

Tickets for the fundraising night are priced at €25 and admission will be taken at the door. For further details, contact 085 213 4836.

Below we take a look at some of the other sporting fixtures and events to keep an eye on this weekend. 

Connacht v Gloucester
Connacht will be looking to overturn last weekend's defeat to Gloucester when the teams renew hostilities in The Sportsground, Galway tomorrow (Saturday).

Athlone native Jack Carty has been selected in an unfamiliar full-back role for the rematch, with Conor Fitzgerald at out-half and John Porch moving to the wing.

Kick-off for this Heineken Champions Cup clash is at 12.45pm. Gloucester claimed a 26-17 victory over the western province at Kingsholm last Sunday. After their opening round win at home to Montpellier, the defeats away to Toulouse and Gloucester have left Connacht in bad need of a win this Saturday.

Old Crescent v Buccaneers
Buccaneers will play their last game before Christmas in Division 2A of the Energia All-Ireland League when they visit Old Crescent tomorrow (Saturday).

Anyone intending to travel to the match is reminded of the earlier kick-off time of 1.30pm at Rosbrien in Limerick. Buccs have won five of their last six matches, with their latest victory coming in a low scoring clash against Cashel last weekend (8-3) - see report & pictures in this week's Westmeath Independent.

Westmeath v Meath
Following their away win over Wexford last weekend, Westmeath face Meath in their second O'Byrne Cup game tomorrow (Saturday) at Lakepoint Park, Mullingar (throw-in 2pm).

With Westmeath's Allianz Football League campaign starting against Clare on January 26, Jack Cooney is likely to give new players a chance to impress against old rivals Meath. 

Leinster v Northampton
Athlone's Robbie Henshaw has been named at inside centre on the Leinster team which faces Northampton Saints in the Heineken Champions Cup at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 5.15pm).

Henshaw will be once again partnered in the centre by Garry Ringrose, with Ross Byrne starting at out-half in the absence of the injured Johnny Sexton.

Willow Park v Collinstown
Willow Park host current leaders Collinstown in Senior Division 1A of the Leinster Senior League tomorrow night (Saturday, DPD Park, 7pm).

The Athlone side claimed an emphatic 5-1 win over Dunboyne last weekend, with Kevin Murray scoring a hat-trick, leaving them second in the table. Collinstown are two points clear with a game in hand so Willow will be looking to claim the three points in order to go top. 

Westmeath v Dublin
In the second round of the Walsh Cup, the Westmeath senior hurlers host Dublin on Sunday at TEG Cusack Park (1pm). Westmeath defeated Carlow in dreadful weather conditions last weekend and they continue their preparations for Division 1 of the Allianz Hurling League with a meeting against Dublin on Sunday.

Westmeath GAA Convention
The 2019 Westmeath GAA Convention takes place this Sunday, December 15 in Ballymore Community Centre at 4pm. 

Most members of the county committee are set to be returned unopposed to the positions - including chairman Billy Foley and secretary Pat Reilly. However there will be a contest for the position of treasurer with incumbent James Savage being challenged by Dermot Fox, a Rosemont native now attached to Athlone GAA club. Savage is a former county secretary while Fox has previously served as football committee chairman. In addition, Tom Hunt and Sean Sheridan are contesting the role of Central Council delegate vacated by Tom Farrell.