herald

Monday 18 December 2017

West' revenge on their minds

Midlanders delighted as draw pits them against Wee County

WESTMEATH footballers have been handed an instant shot at revenge after they were paired with their provincial conquerors, Louth, in the first round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.

Pat Flanagan's men were sucker-punched by a match-winning Louth goal deep in stoppage time when the sides collided in May. They have already expressed delight at this morning's draw, offering them a chance to set the 'back door' record straight.

"We are happy to have a rematch - and it's on home ground," pointed out Westmeath chairman Tom Farrell. "It's like starting a championship again for us. Happy out."

The one downside for Westmeath is that they must plan without skipper Gary Connaughton, as the former All Star 'keeper is heading to Boston.

While Westmeath/Louth is the standout given recent history, there are several other eye-catching collisions down for decision on Saturday, June 30.

Buoyed by their league and early championship form, Longford will fancy their chances of ambushing Derry in Pearse Park - especially considering the Oak Leafers' dismal display against Donegal. Roscommon - hoping to bounce back from their crushing defeat to Galway - have received arguably the toughest draw, Armagh, but at least they have home advantage.

Two counties who crashed out of the Leinster championship at the weekend must seek to 'win on the road' - Carlow travel to neighbouring Laois while Offaly make the trip to Tipp.

SFC QUALIFIERS - RD 1: Laois v Carlow, Westmeath v Louth, Roscommon v Armagh, Fermanagh v Cavan, Tipperary v Offaly, London v Antrim, Wicklow v Waterford, Longford v Derry.

KIERAN McGEENEY has blasted suggestions that Kildare are "destroying" the ethos of the GAA in their long-running quest to get inter-county clearance for Seánie Johnston.

"Honestly, I'm probably fed up talking about it. There's about ten footballers have done the same thing over the last six or seven years and nobody has ever talked about it," the Kildare boss complained.

"He's there to play football and that's my thing. People can like me or loathe me for it. You play whoever's available to you and that's it. I'm not trying to bring down the GAA, contrary to popular opinion. You don't need to wear black armbands out there because we're destroying the ethos of the GAA.

"They make good headlines for ye but, for me and most people involved in the GAA, we're all fed up of it at the minute and we all want to see what happens on the football field. This is what's going to be in the paper rather than the game. I think he's a good player and I hope to have him available at some stage of the season."

JERRY WALLACE has returned as a selector to the Antrim management team just a week after stepping down as manager.

The Cork native resigned after their Leinster SHC loss to Westmeath but was in attendance at a challenge match defeat to Wexford on Friday and the Saffron county board have confirmed he will assist new boss Jim Nelson for the remainder of the season.

SEAMUS QUIGLEY has left the Fermanagh panel. The Roslea man was top-scorer for Peter Canavan's men as they climbed out of Division 4 but after not starting their Ulster SFC defeat to Down and missing training on Tuesday, he has decided not to continue with the squad.

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