Westmeath's senior footballers celebrate with the Tailteann Cup in Croke Park last July. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Six Westmeath players named on Tailteann Cup Team of the Year

Westmeath has claimed six places on the inaugural Tailteann Cup Team of the Year, which was announced today.

The Lake County saw off Cavan in the final in Croke Park on July 9, bringing an end to the first year of the new second-tier senior football competition which was widely praised for its competitiveness and quality.

In the Team of the Year selection, Jack Smith and captain Kevin Maguire have been named at right corner back and full back respectively, while Multyfarnham’s Ronan Wallace claims the centre half back spot.

The other three Westmeath names on the selection are the St Loman’s, Mullingar trio of Sam McCartan (midfield), Ronan O’Toole (centre forward) and John Heslin (full forward).

Heslin, Westmeath’s leading scorer in the championship this year, was widely regarded as a shoo-in for the selection, as were O’Toole and McCartan, who were consistent performers for the Lake County throughout the year. For some of his dazzling displays in the Tailteann Cup, O’Toole in particular is one of the hot favourites for the competition’s overall Player of the Year award.

Multyfarnham star Wallace – recently named by Pat Spillane among his top 30 GAA stars in Ireland right now – was a swashbuckling presence at centre half for Westmeath in 2022, while Smith and Maguire were ever-reliable in the rearguard.

GAA President Larry McCarthy congratulated the winners and said: “The Tailteann Cup was an excellent addition to the calendar and produced the competitive matches and entertaining football that we had hoped for.

“Westmeath and Cavan were worthy finalists, and this Team of the Year is a reflection of the players who delivered exceptional performances over the campaign.

“To be part of the history making first ever selection is special and I congratulate the players honoured here and salute all of those who played a role in making the Tailteann Cup such a great success in 2022, something which we will build on in the coming years.”

Tom Parsons, the GPA CEO, added: “First of all I want to acknowledge what a great start we’ve had in 2022 to the Tailteann Cup. The scenes in Westmeath following their win in the final shows how the competition did capture the imagination of players and supporters alike.

“It is great to see players from five counties represented on the Tailteann Cup Team of the Year and heartiest congratulations to each and every one of you.”

An independent selection committee decided the final 15, who will be presented with their awards this Friday night at a special black-tie function in Croke Park.

The event will be streamed live on gaa.ie from 7pm and also feature the awards for the Ring, Rackard and Meagher and Joe McDonagh Teams of the Year as well as the overall Players of the Year in the three championships.

Tailteann Cup Team of the Year selection:

1. Aidan Devaney (Sligo)

2. Jack Smith (Westmeath)

3. Kevin Maguire (Westmeath)

4. Evan Lyons (Sligo)

5. Jason McLoughlin (Cavan)

6. Ronan Wallace (Westmeath)

7. Killian Clarke (Cavan)

8. Sam McCartan (Westmeath)

9. Seán Carrabine (Sligo)

10. Gearóid McKiernan (Cavan)

11. Ronan O’Toole (Westmeath)

12. Anton Sullivan (Offaly)

13. Gerard Smith (Cavan)

14. John Heslin (Westmeath)

15. Keith Beirne (Leitrim)