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Merge or die for mediocre Midlands

HOW the once-mighty Midlanders have fallen ... into the abyss.

Ten years ago, it took an adopted Messiah called Paidi (pictured) to lead Westmeath to the promised land of a first Leinster title.

Last Saturday they made a limp provincial exit at home to Louth, their 13th competitive defeat on the spin. Eleven games into his reign, Paul Bealin has yet to oversee a Westmeath victory and the locals are starting to grow restless.

On Sunday, a county that won back-to-back All-Irelands in 71 and 72, ended Kerry’s five-in-a-row dream in 82, and enjoyed a late 90s Leinster and league resurrection under Tommy Lyons, lost to Longford.

The most galling part for Offaly fans? No one expected otherwise. The faltering Faithful are now seven years without a win in Leinster.

At least Longford can still dream this summer but, in truth, it would require an amalgamation of all three counties to give the Midlands even a fighting chance of a Leinster upset. Here’s a potential team, with several notable omissions whose most recent poor form doesn’t warrant inclusion.

MIDLAND WARRIORS: 1 Alan Mulhall (Offaly); 2 Dermot Brady (Longford), 3 Kieran Gavin (Westmeath), 4 Kevin Maguire (Westmeath); 5 Brian Darby (Offaly), 6 Shane Mulligan (Longford), 7 James Dolan (Westmeath); 8 John Heslin (Westmeath), 9 Michael Quinn (Longford); 10 Peter Cunningham (Offaly), 11 Francis McGee (Longford), 12 Ger Egan (Westmeath); 13 Niall McNamee (Offaly), 14 Brian Kavanagh (Longford), 15 Sean McCormack (Longford).