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Thursday 23 January 2020

Rumours of Martin's exit news to him

6 April 2019; Kieran Martin of Westmeath celebrates after the Allianz Football League Division 3 Final match between Laois and Westmeath at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
6 April 2019; Kieran Martin of Westmeath celebrates after the Allianz Football League Division 3 Final match between Laois and Westmeath at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Kieran Martin had just finished a recent training session with Westmeath when he was told that he would not, in fact, be playing for the county in 2020.

Confused? Don’t be. Westmeath’s captain for year one of the Jack Cooney era is definitely hanging around for year two, which will have its official – and very early – O’Byrne Cup launch away to Paul Galvin’s Wexford this Saturday.

The availability of Martin was thrown into question when a GAA legend’s newspaper column – giving a roll call of high-profile footballers taking an inter-county break as proof of the pressures now associated with this “near full-time carousel” - listed the Westmeath powerhouse among them.

All of which was news to the man himself. “We actually were training that morning,” he recounts. “One of the other lads that wasn’t back in on the panel yet sent it to me, saying ‘What’s the story, are you actually going?’ That was the first I heard of it.

Hard

“We’re training hard at the moment, so I don’t think I’d be doing that much hard training for this time of the year if I was heading off!”

Martin is unsure how this particular rumour got legs. Fact is, he only started an exciting new job last September – as performance games development officer with Westmeath.

Fact number two: he’s quite looking forward to the daunting on-field challenges of 2020, when Westmeath must try and preserve their newly-acquired Division 2 status and then set about Mission Beyond Impossible … beating the Dubs next May.

The Leinster SFC quarter-final draw could not have been any crueller. But, even here, Martin is keen to accentuate the positives.

Maybe, just maybe, Dublin after Jim Gavin won’t be quite the invincible force of old. “They have the players but another manager might come in with different ideas and it could take them a while to get used to that.

“I suppose it’s somewhat a positive for us,” says Martin.

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