WESTMEATH'S already tenuous hopes of 'back door' renaissance have been dealt a potentially fatal blow with news that captain Gary Connaughton is heading Stateside for the summer.
"It's looking like I'll go early next week," confirmed the 2008 All Star goalkeeper, who will line for Tubberclair in the Westmeath IFC this Friday night before jetting out for summer work in Boston. He will return to Athlone IT in September to complette a degree in business.
"There's not a lot for me here," Connaughton admitted. "Pat Flanagan and my club manager, Martin McCabe, have been trying to sort something for me and so have the county board and the GPA, but there is nothing out there at the minute - it looks like I'll be going very shortly.
"Contacts in Boston have lined up football for me out there but I'm going back to college in September. The summer camps only last around four or five weeks and that isn't enough and there's not a whole lot else going on, especially since we lost to Louth," he added. "At the moment I'm getting up in the morning and you'd be in despair because there is nothing to do. At the same time, I'm captain of Westmeath and I don't want to be jumping ship so it's very difficult."
Darren Quinn of Tyrrellspass looks set to assume the No 1 jersey from Connaughton. With Dessie Dolan having opted out for the season, Westmeath look ill-equipped to reprise one of their famous qualifier runs - evidenced by their recent five-goal trouncing by Mayo in a challange match.
OFFALY hurling boss Ollie Baker has named an unchanged side for their Leinster semi-final clash with Galway on Sunday. Baker has stuck with the same side that gave the Faithful county their first win over Wexford since 2000 a fortnight ago.
OFFALY (SH v Galway): J Dempsey; D Morkan, D Kenny, D Franks; D Horan, R Hanniffy, J Rigney; C Mahon, K Brady; J Bergin, C Egan, B Murphy; S Dooley, C Parlon, B Carroll.