Caulry’s Conor McCormack tries to get past Athlone’s Ben Killian during their recent Westmeath SFC quarter-final.

Red letter day for Caulry with county final place at stake

Caulry will be bidding to reach the Westmeath senior football final for the first time ever when they face Coralstown/Kinnegad in this Sunday’s semi-final showdown at TEG Cusack Park (throw-in 4.30pm).

The Mount Temple/Baylin men qualified for the last four with a narrow win over Athlone, but they will need a significantly improved display to overcome a Coralstown/Kinnegad outfit seen as the most likely to challenge championship favourites St Loman’s, Mullingar.

Caulry will be looking for inspiration from Westmeath captain Kevin Maguire and fellow county players Conor McCormack and Senan Baker. Young players such as Tiarnán O’Donovan and Tadhg Baker have also produced some fine displays this year, while Emmet Nally underlined his scoring threat against Athlone.

Caulry and Coralstown/Kinnegad actually met in the opening round of this year’s championship, when the Kinnegad men won on a scoreline of 4-6 to 0-10.

It remains to be seen what relevance that game will have on Sunday’s clash, but Caulry will obviously be wary of their opponents’ goalscoring threat. Shane Fleming, who has been in impressive form this year, scored two goals in that encounter, with the others coming from Brían Cooney and Dan Leech.

Interestingly, the two clubs also met in last year’s U-19 Division 1 football final, when Coralstown/Kinnegad came out on top.

Caulry are managed by former St Brigid’s and Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran, who is as animated on the sideline as he was during his playing days.

For their part, Coralstown/Kinnegad are aiming to reach their first senior final since 1998, when they lost out to Athlone. Coralstown/Kinnegad last lifted the Flanagan Cup in 1996.

Having won the ACFL Division 1 title earlier in the season, Coralstown/Kinnegad have been steadily building momentum. The Kinnegad-based outfit are jointly managed by Rhode’s Paschal Kellaghan (who was previously involved with the Westmeath senior team) and former Westmeath senior manager Jack Cooney.

Since it’s a clash of two teams who normally wear red and white, at least one will have to change jerseys for Sunday’s game.

From a historical perspective, it’s interesting that, contrary to what many had believed, Sunday’s match will not be Caulry’s first ever senior championship semi-final.

When Caulry defeated Athlone in their recent quarter-final, many observers, including people involved with Caulry for years, reckoned it meant that the club progressed to their first ever Westmeath SFC semi-final.

Yet Caulry did compete in a senior championship semi-final, back in the mists of time, losing out to Rosemount in 1946. However, there was a very different system in place back then. Caulry defeated Tyrrellspass in the 1946 intermediate championship final (played in Streamstown) to qualify for the senior championship of the same year. In its early incarnation, the Westmeath intermediate championship was a sort of transitional competition.

Rosemount emerged as clear-cut winners of that 1946 senior semi-final, on a day when the renowned Paddy Dolan was among the scorers for Caulry. Kinnegad (Coralstown was not part of the club’s name back then) went on to defeat Rosemount in the senior final.

Returning to the present day, this year’s other semi-final will see Tyrrellspass attempt to upset St Loman’s Mullingar on Saturday (TEG Cusack Park, 5pm).

Remarkably, Tyrrellspass suffered the heartache of losing four county finals to St Loman’s over the past decade (2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020). And despite the sky blue outfit’s impressive second-half display in their quarter-final win over Tang, it’s difficult to envisage anything other than another Loman’s victory this weekend.

With the creativity and scoring prowess of players like Ronan O’Toole, John Heslin, Sam McCartan and Shane Dempsey, aided by a strong supporting cast, St Loman’s appear too strong for all other contenders.

While the Westmeath senior football final pairing will be decided this weekend, the hurling equivalent will see Raharney (winners over Clonkill last weekend) face defending champions Castletown Geoghegan or Lough Lene Gaels. The latter two sides will meet in a semi-final.