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Saturday 21 October 2017

Attack is best for the West' in bid for basement escape - Martin

Kieran Martin of Westmeath. Pic: Sportsfile
Kieran Martin of Westmeath. Pic: Sportsfile

Kieran Martin has advocated a more attacking approach as Westmeath seek to escape their new Allianz League home in Division 4.

The 2015 All Star nominee cited Westmeath's going-for-broke attitude when faced by big deficits against Kildare and especially Mayo last summer as the way to go in 2017.

"We just went for it - we had to," he recalled. "And I think it's a good way to go at teams too, because they're not expecting it either."

Martin accepts that Westmeath have thrilled and tanked in equal measure over recent seasons. This is reflected by their sequence of three consecutive relegations in the midst of reaching back-to-back Leinster SFC finals for the first time in their history.

Even within games, Tom Cribbin's men have oscillated wildly. On the plus side, they delivered two huge halves of football last July against the ultimate All-Ireland finalists.

They restricted Dublin to a one-point lead (0-7 to 0-6) via a double-sweeper set-up in the Leinster final. In their next qualifier, they recovered from 12 points adrift (and eight at half-time) to leave Mayo sweating on a three-point lead, the westerners eventually winning by seven.

The trouble for Westmeath is what happened during the second half against Dublin (they lost that by 14) and the first period against Mayo.

"It's hard for a team to play well for a whole 70 minutes, but we always seem to do it for either one half or the other," conceded Martin, speaking at Leinster GAA's Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup launch.

"That's what we're going to work on," he added. "You have to take the positives out of it. I think the second half against Mayo was probably the best football we played all year."

Likewise, a belated gung-ho approach during their Leinster semi-final had turned a six-point deficit against Kildare into a three-point lead.

"So I think the management are looking at that, instead of trying to hold teams off," he revealed. "With Dublin it's a different situation, you have to try and work something.

"Now, it did work for the first half but I think Dublin copped on to what we were doing and made a few changes, where they took off a back and brought on another forward. You're playing against seven forwards - and they're seven of the best in the country!

"Management are learning and we're learning as well. We have to learn that it's not going to work for the whole game," he continued.

Different

"You have to have three different plans and work through them all year, instead of having one plan, it working for one half and then not working for the other."

The Maryland clubman has targeted promotion, while insisting it won't be "the end of the world" if Westmeath fail to go up so long as the performance graph is positive.

"Division 4 - we need to get out of it if we do want to progress," he surmised.

"But the way I see it, it's a great opportunity for us to play new lads on the panel. We had a few lads last year who probably didn't play one league game and they were brought on in championship games … it's not a great way to introduce lads."

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