OFFALY and Westmeath go into this Sunday’s Football League finale in Mullingar knowing that the winner will take it all with promotion and a place in the Division 3 League Final while the loser will be standing small in the wake of a demoralising defeat and facing into another year in the third tier. As if derby games between Offaly and Westmeath needed any more spice?
While there are numerous permutations that would put Offaly through to the final, including one where they could lose the game, the simple fact for Tom Cribbin’s side is win and your in. A draw would also suffice but given the palpitations that the small but loyal band of Offaly supporters suffered in Dungarvan last week, hanging on for a draw in the closing stages would not help already frayed nerves.
Normally in a situation like this, a pundit would point to home advantage as giving one side the edge. However in this campaign Offaly have been far better on their travels than in front of their own support in O’Connor Park.
Given that Offaly hadn’t won away from home since their brief stint in Division 4, and even then they lost in Ennis, the fact that they have won all three away games in Limerick, Louth and Waterford and showed great bottle to prevail in all three, bodes well for this short but tough trip
Westmeath’s ace in the hole could be manager Pat Flanagan as he will be as familiar with the opposition players as any inter-couty manager could ever hope to be.
The Clara native has performed a miraculous turn around in Westmeath’s fortunes and the side who could not win a game in recent years are suddenly on the brink of promotion with only Offaly in their way. A mouth watering prospect is certainly in store.