Caulry's Eoin Fox and Garrycastle's James Sheerin in action during last year's Westmeath SFC. The two clubs both face quarter-finals this weekend.

New territory for Caulry as Garrycastle also face quarter-final test

Two South Westmeath sides face Westmeath senior football championship quarter-final clashes against teams from Mullingar this weekend, as the knockout stage of the county's blue riband football competition gets underway.

Caulry line up against St Loman's, with throw-in at 4pm today (Saturday) in TEG Cusack Park, while Garrycastle and Mullingar Shamrocks meet in the other semi-final at county headquarters on Sunday at 4pm.

For Caulry, it's an historic moment and a step into new territory. Caulry boss Shane Curran acknowledged his side had achieved one goal by reaching the knockout stage.

“It's great to be in a quarter-final. That was our goal at the start of the year and that has been achieved.”

However, despite the looming presence of reigning champions St Loman's on Saturday, Curran said: “It would be fair to say we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Curran and his management team have had no difficulty in resetting objectives after the dramatic draw with Moate All Whites which secured Caulry's quarter-final berth as the natural enthusiasm of the panel has helped to ensure they don't rest on their laurels.

“They are an incredible bunch of young lads. They are a credit to themselves, to their families and to the club.”

A notable element of Caulry's progression this year has been the increasing role of young players such as Senan Baker and Alan Malynn. Curran attributes their progression to the fantastic coaching taking place in the club at underage level.

He said there were a number of other young players such as Shane Lawless, Tom Cloonan and Sean Murphy who are knocking on the door, without forgetting the injured Luke Buckley.

Key to Caulry's success this year has been a remarkable goal-getting ability, with 13 goals scored in five group games. More important to Curran though is the consistency in chance creation.

“There's been a consistency of actually creating a lot of goal chances,” he said, something which the coaching team has worked with the squad in developing a freedom in attacking areas.

Asked if this cutting edge in front of goal means Caulry always have a chance, irrespective of the opposition, he admitted: “If you can score goals, it keeps you in games.”

The former St Brigid's goalkeeper though is under no illusion as to the task at hand in Cusack Park.

Listing the likes of Sam McCartan, TJ Cox, Ronan O'Toole and, of course, John Heslin, he says St Loman's are full of high-calibre players.

Describing the Mullingar outfit as a very strong side with a notable history in the county, he said they would have liked to won a couple of Leinster championships.

Some would say Caulry are a year or two ahead of where they planned to be, but Curran says this game will provide a test to see exactly where the team is in its trajectory.

Meanwhile, 2019 champions Garrycastle have somewhat “limped or fallen into” a quarter-final this year, according to coach John Keane but the club will be hoping that their campaign clicks into gear this weekend.

All year they have been close, with one win, two draws, and two single-point defeats, in their five group games, showing the narrow margins involved.

Indeed, the former All Star described both senior football championship groups this year as very tight, with little between the teams.

“It was a very topsy turvy group and we are wondering how it all works out in the end. Hopefully the cream will come to the top and we'll be in the mix.”

“We tend to enjoy knock-out football,” Keane said.

Sunday's opponents Mullingar Shamrocks are “a seriously dangerous team”, according to Keane.

“They came through an exceptionally tough group and this will be a serious, serious challenge for our lads.”

Garrycastle lost Matty Guiheen to injury earlier in the campaign and are “sweating on a few others”, Keane said.

As a club Garrycastle have been through a few years of transition and although a number of experienced campaigners continue to don the green and red, the side is now founded on a fresh bunch of key personnel.

“We have a good core of lads from 25 to 29 and we are expecting big things from them,” he said.