Joe Fortune.

Fortune steps down as Westmeath hurling manager

Joe Fortune has stepped down as manager of the Westmeath senior hurling team after three years in the role.

The Dublin-based Wexford native called time on his tenure a few weeks after the team's season ended when they failed to reach the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup, finishing fourth in the round robin stage of the competition.

The Wexford native has been at the helm since 2021 and led the senior hurlers through two Leinster championship campaigns before they returned to the Joe McDonagh Cup this season.

Westmeath began this year's Joe McDonagh campaign with defeats to Kerry and Offaly, followed by a draw away to Down and victories over Meath and Laois.

In a statement issued through Westmeath GAA a short time ago, Fortune said that "it is with absolute honour, pride and sincerity that I will look back at my three years with the Westmeath senior hurling team"

"Incredible moments and history at times made by a group of committed men in championship games yet ultimately falling short this year on what the primary aim was for 2024. Time now to recharge for me and for new energy and voices to develop this group even further.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my backroom team who continuously strived to improve and maximise our group for the betterment of Westmeath hurling over the past three years. No ego, just real care. No names for fear of leaving out anyone who added to this journey but a real bond of friendship on and off the field.

"To my wife Annelise and girls, thanks for your incredible support and allowing me do what I love, always! Ye travelled the country and for that I’m so grateful.

"I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Westmeath County Board for their support and honesty throughout my time as manager especially Frank, Patrick, Pat, Brendan and Marie, our PRO. Only so much is possible, but as a county board you have done in my term all you could, with the future looking brighter, and a centre of excellence to come in the years ahead to provide Westmeath GAA with a place to call home. Gerry and Paul in local media for the honesty in portraying what we were aiming to achieve. Thank you.

"I want to express my appreciation to the clubs who made their pitches available to train on and more than anyone Keith Quinn, who tirelessly committed himself to arranging the above. A great friend and honourable leader of other ‘wet fools’ who do the work many don’t even see and appreciate.

"Finally, to the players, this decision has been far from easy, as I was the leader on great days and tough ones too, all of them proudly. The young players this year brought immense vigour and energy. You all have created memories and historical moments in my time as manager and provided the real people of Westmeath GAA with some outstanding days to remember. Life ‘outside the white line’ is as important to me as ‘inside the white line’. That’s where ye need to be as committed to both yourselves, coaches, club teams, county and your families.

"I’m very proud of all we achieved, with all we had. Always remember ability is what you are capable of doing, but attitude determines how well you do it. Bring that in all you do going forward in life ! I look forward to seeing you build on what’s gone before under my stewardship."