Division 2 North Preview
By Darragh Walsh
Image via The Mirror
The opening weekend in Division 2 North saw recently relegated teams Mayo and Meath top their group with wins over Down and Westmeath, respectively. With promotion places and survival on the line a win is crucial for all four counties this weekend as the action continues.
Fixture: Westmeath Vs Mayo
Venue: TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar
Date & Time: Saturday 22nd May @ 15:00
Watch it on: Eir Sport
Referee: Noel Mooney
Following a narrow one-point defeat away to Meath, Westmeath return home to Cusack Park to face a Mayo side that is high in confidence following their thirteen-point triumph against Down in McHale Park on the opening weekend.
Westmeath left Parc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon failing to register a victory against Meath despite leading by four points as the game entered the final quarter. A lack of scores from play seemed to be the downfall of Jack Cooney’s side as eight of their fifteen points came from free kicks and 45s. John Heslin shone on the opening day, kicking seven points. However, the full forward will have a much tougher opposition backline to deal with as they welcome James Horan’s Mayo side who ran away with their opening game.
Tommy Conroy orchestrated the Mayo onslaught in McHale Park, scoring 1-3 from play while Cillian ‘O’Connor was at hand to dispatch 8 free kicks, punishing any fouls allowed to his side. Following their rampant win against Down, Horan’s side are undoubted favorites to return to Division one at the end of the campaign. Victory against Down would see Horan’s side guaranteed a top two finish in the division with a pole position decider against Meath in the last round seeming imminent.
Fixture: Down vs Meath
Venue: Athletic Grounds
Date & Time: Sunday 23rd May @ 15:45
Watch it on: GAA Go
Referee: Niall Cullen.
Meath’s character was tested against Westmeath where they had to recover from a four-point deficit to claim the points in their opening encounter. Their opponents will have a point to prove as they look to bounce back from an underwhelming performance where they suffered a thirteen-point defeat.
Meath ended a two year wait for a victory in the Allianz league at home to Westmeath. Andy McAntee’s side showed great strength to kick seven of the game’s final nine points to emerge victorious. However, McAntee will need his side to find their scoring boots from play against Down as his side’s top scorers, excluding free kicks, could only manage to kick one point each. Whilst Down fell miserably in Castlebar, they will be well capable of matching those scoring numbers unless McAntee’s side make drastic improvements for this weekend’s clash.
Whilst Down struggled to control Mayo’s attacking firepower, the Mourne County managed to cause problems in their own attacks for last year’s all Ireland finalists. Barry O’Hagan raised five white flags, including hitting the score of the game with a piece of individual brilliance, and Stephen McConville found the net in Castlebar. With promising signs on their travels west, Down can cause Meath’s defence numerous problems when they visit.