Garrycastle set to begin title defence with local derby

Pictured above: The Westmeath club championship games that will be streamed live by Iarmhí TV this weekend.

The Westmeath club football championships kick off tonight (Friday), with the meeting of Moate All Whites and Ballymore in Athlone among the games down for decision.

With Westmeath championship games all-ticket affairs and those in attendance restricted to 200 people (including the two teams), the club scene is very different than usual at the moment.

In the Westmeath SFC, the stand-out game of the opening weekend is the meeting of defending champions Garrycastle and near neighbours Athlone, who are now managed by former Mayo star Liam McHale.

John Gaffey feels last year’s county title success and subsequent Leinster campaign has helped Garrycastle progress as a team as they prepare to face Athlone this Sunday (Tubberclair, throw-in 5pm).

“We obviously did very well last year, very happy to get the county title back after a barren couple of years. We’re in a good place now," said Gaffey.

“We’ve a good team with a good mix of experience and youth through the team. I think we got good experience last year; getting into Leinster and having a tough couple of games there along the way has probably brought us on.

“Coming from eight points behind (in last year's county final against St Loman's Mullingar) has helped build the confidence of a couple of lads as well. The team that we had was probably lacking that cut-throat, winning mentality. We just hadn’t achieved enough.

“Getting that win last year has brought us on an awful lot I think. Hopefully it will stand to us this year. You don’t know what will carry over from one year to the next, but I did feel that we came on an awful lot after beating Loman’s last year. Even going into Leinster, we were a better team again,” continued the Garrycastle defender.

Since Gary Dolan and John Keane took over Garrycastle ahead of the 2018 season, they’ve won three trophies (two Division 1 league titles and last year's championship). And Gaffey believes that some of the club's talented younger players have improved a lot in the last few seasons.

“There’s a lot of good lads there - Alex Gardiner, the Monaghans. We were waiting for them to really fire and they definitely fired last year. I use those names as an example, but there are a good few lads that really took ownership and we weren’t as reliant on the older lads, such as Dessie Dolan and Doron Harte,” he said.

Another intriguing game this weekend is the clash of Castledaly and Rosemount in Moate tomorrow evening (Saturday).

Upcoming Westmeath GAA club championship fixtures are listed below.

FRIDAY, JULY 31

Writech Intermediate FC

Athlone: Moate All Whites v Ballymore, 7.30pm, N Ward.

Shay Murtagh Precast Senior FC

TEG Cusack Park: Mullingar Shamrocks v Coralstown/Kinnegad, 7.30pm, P Fox.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 1

Shay Murtagh Precast Senior SFC

Hogan Park, Moate: Rosemount v Castledaly, 7pm, D Maher.

Writech Intermediate FC

TEG Cusack Park: St Mary’s Rochfortbridge v Milltown, 7pm, J Rock.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 2

Clarke’s Bar Junior 1 FC

Kinnegad: Delvin v St Paul’s, 1pm, B Nea; Milltown: St Joseph’s v Tubberclair, 1pm, B Pierce; Springfield: Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall v Ballinagore, 1pm, M Gordon.

Writech Intermediate FC

Rosemount: Tang v Kilbeggan Shamrocks, 2pm, S Carroll.

Shay Murtagh Precast Senior SFC

Tubberclair: Athlone v Garrycastle, 5pm, A Coyne; TEG Cusack Park: Tyrrellspass v St Loman’s, Mullingar, 7.30pm, K O’Brien.

Clarke’s Bar Westmeath Junior 2 FC

The Downs: Killucan v Coralstown/Kinnegad, 1pm, Ken Daly.

MONDAY, AUGUST 3

Clarke’s Bar Junior 1 FC

Ballymore: Athlone v Mullingar Shamrocks, 1pm, K Gunning.

Clarke’s Bar Junior 2 FC

Tang: Moate All Whites v Caulry, 1pm, M Galvin.

Writech Intermediate FC

TEG Cusack Park: Milltownpass v Multyfarnham, 5pm, E Kelly.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 4

(First named team at home, all games at 7.30pm)

Junior 'B' FC

Group 1

Rosemount v Tubberclair, M Galvin; Maryland v Castledaly, D McEnery.

Group 2

Coralstown/Kinnegad v St Mary's, Rochfortbridge, S Maher; The Downs: The Downs v Tyrrellspass, McAdden.

Group 3

Athlone v Tang, G Duignan.

Group 4

Milltownpass v Mullingar Shamrocks, P McGauran; St Loman's Mullingar v Milltown, M Gordon.

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