Westmeath minor football manager, Joe Giles was understandably disappointed after his side let a lead slip in their one-point defeat against Laois in Portlaoise last week.
But he was grateful that his troops still have a final round robin game - against Carlow at TEG Cusack Park tonight (Wednesday), May 15 (throw-in 7pm) - and that their destiny in this year’s provincial championship is still very much in their own hands.
Reflecting on the defeat to Laois (see report in this week's Westmeath Independent), Giles said: “It’s disappointing, but we just have to take the positives from it and get back on the horse again. It would be worse if we were out of the championship. It’s still in our hands. We play Carlow on Wednesday and that’ll give lads the chance to make amends. We had our chances. We can’t blame anybody. We had goal chances that we didn’t take and, at this level, if you are shipping goals at one end and not taking your own at the other end, you will get punished.”
The Lake County lads got off to a blistering start which, naturally, pleased the Westmeath boss. He stated: “We played some very good football in the first half but, having said that, the wind was very strong. We targeted before the game that we would get off to a good start, go at them, and take them on. And we did that. But Laois are Laois when they are at home. They took over around the middle third in the second half, and they brought on a few subs who had an influence on the game as well. That’s the way it goes. I told the lads that they can’t bury their heads in the sand. We have to go again next week. We have put in a lot of work over the past couple of months," continued Giles, adding that his side was determined not to let the Laois defeat get them down.
Astonishingly, Westmeath had the ball in the Laois net on no less than three occasions in the dramatic closing stages. However, no green flag was waved. The Coralstown/Kinnegad man concluded thus: “We had three ‘goals’ disallowed. I thought Shane Reid’s was definitely a goal. I couldn’t see how that could be a square ball. We also had a late free overturned because of a lack of discipline. We have lots to learn. Hopefully we won’t make the same mistakes again the next day. Carlow won’t be easy. They are pretty good and they drew with Laois. It’ll be nip and tuck again on Wednesday.”
If Westmeath top Group 1, they will go straight into the semi-finals. And if they finish in second place, they will secure a place in one of the two quarter-finals. However, a defeat to Carlow would end Westmeath's interest in the championship which would be disappointing given the promise shown in the opening round win over Longford. Laois travel to Longford in the other final round game in Group 1 next Saturday.