Aspirations of a place in the final of the Leinster senior football club championship are to the fore in the minds of Garrycastle management, players and supporters as a last four fixture date awaits against reigning Dublin champions, Ballyboden St. Endas, in TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Sunday afternoon (throw-in 1.30pm ).
Following impressive team performances in their previous provincial fixtures, the eight times Westmeath senior football champions are in preparatory mode ahead of what promises to be a pulsating contest this weekend.
Speaking this week to the Athlone Advertiser, Garrycastle captain, Doron Harte, reflected upon his team’s quarter final victory Ratoath and spoke of the imminent semi-final challenge.
“Our first half performance in which the team competed with high intensity was not replicated in the second period, but thankfully, we emerged victorious despite late Ratoath pressure.
“We know that there are facets of our play on which we must improve if we are to bring a strong challenge to Ballyboden St. Endas. In the second half against Ratoath as we defended our lead we invited pressure upon us but we must strive to stay in positive mode on Sunday,” Doron emphasised.
Come the shrill of the final whistle an immediate sense of relief prevailed in the dressing room with the realisation that a semi-final date had been secured.
“Dublin champions will always present a massive challenge. We are playing against a club who boast six senior teams in their ranks, so obviously those players representing Ballyboden on Sunday possess serious qualities, including former footballer of the year and Dublin intercounty stalwart, Michael Darragh Macauley,” Doron continued.
The two teams previously met at this stage of the provincial competition in 2009, Garrycastle emerging victorious on that day, a match Doron remembers fondly.
“I recall it being a dreary winter’s day, but what stood out for me during the game was the nature of our team performance as our ethos of working hard even in the face of playing adversity really came to the fore,” Doron stressed.
If Garrycastle are to annex their place in the provincial final, the playing match ups need to be on point, with the influence, in particular, of the Basquel brothers, necessitating attention. The Ballyboden brothers contributed 1-7 of their team’s 1-11 scoreline in their quarter final win over Newtown Blues.
“Training has been very positive since our quarter final win and this game presents the biggest challenge to date for many of our players, so hopefully, all will go well for us as a team on Sunday,” Doron commented.
Victory on Sunday will seal a return to the Leinster final for Garrycastle, replicating their sole previous appearance in the provincial blue riband fixture in 2011.