By Mike Fitzpatrick
Westmeath 1-16, Monaghan 0-7
This was a game that almost didn’t get played at all. With half the Monaghan side caught in dreadful traffic conditions on their way from Queens to Gaelic Park, the referee was forced to delay the kickoff by more than half an hour before the Ulster men were able to gather together something resembling a team. Even when the whistle did blow to signal the start of the senior football Div. I contest, Monaghan started with only 10 of their official players on the lineout.
Sitting at the bottom of the table with a solitary point from six games played coming into this match, Monaghan desperately needed the points if they were to avoid relegation. As it turned out, they are two points behind Cavan, their nearest rivals for the dreaded relegation spot, and Cavan have a game in hand over their fellow Ulster competitors.
Westmeath needed the points for totally different reasons. Still in with a shot to grab a playoff spot, John Moore’s men have done their hopes no harm at all with this win. It’s a slim hope, and Westmeath still have to hope for a number of other teams’ results going the right way if they are to slip into the final playoff spot.
The game itself was not one of the more memorable at Gaelic Park. Westmeath took control early on versus this seriously understrength Monaghan side.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
Greg Ramsbottom, a revelation this season for Moore’s men, took the game to Monaghan from the start, and had an impressive scoring tally under his belt before the interval.
Westmeath continued to attack, with Ramsbottom and Stephen O’Shea surging through the patched up Monaghan backline.
Monaghan’s own secret weapon, last season’s top scorer Mickey Slowey, managed five points, but without his regular teammates behind him, he was never likely to grab a whole lot more.
It looks as if Monaghan, the side who never gave up, will be back in Div. II next season, after a brief two year stay at the top. This time however, there was a difference of 12 points in the margin.
If Monaghan do go down, they’ll be sorely missed.
Westmeath: Pat Spellman, Peter Dalton, Kieran Walsh, David Bailie, Brendan Kearney, Tom Quinn, Frank Kavanagh, Kieran Doyle, James Kavanagh (0-1), Barney Healy, Kieran Ryan (0-2), Greg Ramsbottom (1-8), John Paul O’Donnell (0-2), Brian McCabe, Stephen O’Shea (0-3).
Monaghan: George Duffy, Gerry Coleman, Mickey Treanor, Brian McKenna, Bonnie Duffy, Bernard Treanor, Paul Ruane, Hughie O’Sullivan, Denis Connolly, Dermot Mulholland (0-1), Mickey Slowey (0-5), Sean Carbin, Mickey McEntee, Paul McGlynn (0-1), Noel McEntee.