Athlone’s Ray Connellan has his shot blocked by Coralstown/Kinnegad defender Ciaran Daly during their Westmeath SFC game last Saturday week. PHOTO: JOHN McCAULEY.

Athlone face must win game as Moate and Roses renew rivalry

Athlone and Tyrrellspass will both be under major pressure to secure victory when they meet in the fourth round of the Westmeath SFC at TEG Cusack Park this Sunday (throw-in 5pm).

Having drawn with neighbours Garrycastle with a spirited display in their opening game, Athlone have lost to The Downs and Coralstown-Kinnegad in their last two outings.

The dismal manner of the latter defeat was surely a major cause of concern in the Athlone camp, with a dominant Coralstown-Kinnegad outfit scoring nine points on the trot in the second half, before eventually running out winners by 1-15 to 2-3. And it’s worth noting that Athlone’s second goal, scored by Diarmuid Martin, was very much in the consolation category when the outcome was beyond doubt.

Sunday’s game will be a repeat of last year’s semi-final which Tyrrellspass won, before losing out yet again to St Loman’s Mullingar in the final.

It’s glaringly obvious that Liam McHale’s charges will need to show considerable improvement if they are to overcome Tyrrellspass - a side Athlone have found very difficult to beat in recent years.

Meanwhile, Garrycastle will take on St Loman’s Mullingar in their first senior championship meeting since they were involved in the thrilling 2019 county final. On that occasion, Garrycastle produced a stirring second-half comeback to take the Flanagan Cup in improbable fashion.

Garrycastle were left to reflect on some missed chances in their narrow defeat to The Downs recently. The Downs eventually won the game (2-8 to 0-13) thanks to a last-gasp free from goalkeeper Trevor Martin.

Gary Dolan’s charges will be looking to rediscover the impressive form which saw them dish out a comprehensive defeat to Tyrrellspass in their second game.

John Heslin was a notable absentee from the St Loman’s team in their win over Tyrrellspass, and the Mullingar side will be hoping the Westmeath star can shake off his injury problems in order to feature against Garrycastle in Moate this Saturday (5pm).

With four teams from Section A to qualify for the knockout stages, Loman’s are still very much in the mix and the county champions will be dangerous adversaries for everyone if they reach the knockout stages.

The other game in Section A is a clash between the only two sides with full points in this year’s Westmeath SFC - The Downs and Coralstown-Kinnegad. Given their underage pedigree in recent years, The Downs are seen by many observers as serious championship contenders, but Liam McNeill’s men are entitled to be considered in similar fashion considering their form so far this year.

In Section B, the stand-out fixture is the meeting of Moate All Whites and Rosemount. A traditional rivalry in Westmeath club football, this will be the first meeting of Rosemount and Moate in a senior championship encounter in several years. Moate are competing at senior level for the first time since 2004, having won the intermediate title last year.

Both Moate and Rosemount were involved in draws in their last outings. The All Whites will take encouragement from the way they battled back for a share of the spoils against Shandonagh, with Ruairí Cunningham playing a leading role.

For their part, Rosemount’s form so far has been a mixed bag. They only managed to score a meagre total of 0-4 in their heavy defeat to Mullingar Shamrocks in the opening round. But that wasn’t a true reflection of their capabilities as they showed with a 4-13 to 1-14 win over Shandonagh in their second game.

In their last outing versus Caulry, Rosemount were under the cosh in the first half but they improved in the second period, and it was the Mount Temple/Baylin men who needed a late free to salvage a draw.

Caulry will take on current Section B leaders Mullingar Shamrocks on Saturday (Rosemount, 5pm). It’s a very tight group where only two points separated Shamrocks from bottom-placed Killucan going into this weekend's games - but Killucan's 4-11 to 1-9 victory over Shandonagh last night (Friday) has now moved them up to four points.

With only two teams to qualify for the knockout stages from Section B, there is far less wriggle room, while the threat of relegation will also concentrate minds ahead of this weekend’s games.

Westmeath Intermediate FC

Meanwhile, in the Westmeath IFC, St Malachy’s will put their 100 per cent record on the line against Castledaly, but both these sides look certain to qualify for the knockout stages.

The meeting of Maryland and Milltownpass should be an interesting one as the Drumraney men revived their qualification hopes by defeating Ballymore last time out.

As in the SFC, the battle for the two qualification spots in Section B looks like it will go down to the wire. Tubberclair are on three points, having defeated Kilbeggan Shamrocks, drawn with St Mary’s Rochfortbridge and lost to Milltown.

The Glasson men face Multyfarnham in Milltown this Sunday (12.30) and having come up from the junior ranks last year, they will be looking to put themselves in the mix for qualification rather than worrying about relegation in the last round.

Kilbeggan, who face St Mary’s in Ballinagore on Sunday, are on one point and their priority at this stage is probably to avoid relegation.