Westmeath camogie manager Darren McCormack.

Westmeath boss remains positive despite heavy defeat

Westmeath camogie manager Darren McCormack pointed to the experience of a "formidable" Wexford team after his side's 20-point defeat in last Saturday's Division 2 league quarter-final.

"They had girls out there with All-Ireland medals and All Stars. We knew that’s what we were going to be up against and we knew we’d have to be at our best to even try and push them,” said McCormack afterwards.

The Castlepollard legend continued: “I’m still a firm believer in keeping positivity in our own camp and encouraging the girls as well. In fairness, they battled out to the very end. Our young full back line did very well and they stood up to their opponents. Overall, it’s a very young Westmeath team. Wexford have a very experienced team and they have a lot of their experienced players back in the camp. A few mistakes cost us – we have to work on our first touch and a few other things.

“Our aim was to reach the knockout stages of the league, and we did that. Whether it be championship or league, you always want to reach the knockout stages. We did well against Dublin, Meath and Kildare, and they are all good teams. We’re kind of happy enough that way, but we probably drew the strongest team that is in the quarter-finals in Wexford. It’s good to get that game with the All-Ireland championship coming up.”

However, in relation to the championship, McCormack is somewhat frustrated. He stated: “We don’t know the fixture yet as the pairings haven’t been made. The Camogie Association is very slow that way. We’re only four weeks out and we don’t know who we’re preparing for.

"We hope to have Megan (Dowdall) back for the championship. She has a hamstring injury and she was training with us during the week, but we didn’t want to force her too much either because we don’t want her to have another setback which could put her out for the championship. Ava Balfe is possibly gone for the year, she got bad news during the week about her knee, and she’s another key player that was there last year,” he continued.

In addition to injuries, high-profile retirements have deprived the management of a few very influential stars of the past. McCormack said: “Denise (McGrath), Pamela (Greville) and Mairéad (McCormack) are all gone – these are not players you can replace straight away, especially in a county like Westmeath. Realistically, we’re going through a transition period.”

"We have a couple of girls doing exams and hopefully we’ll get them back in. We’re looking forward to the championship,” he concluded.

- Gerry Buckley