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Armagh wary of Westmeath backlash, admits Toal

 

By John Campbell

Armagh stand-in manager John Toal believes that Westmeath will carry "a huge hurt" into their meeting with his side in Round Two of the All-Ireland Football Qualifiers the weekend after next.

Westmeath suffered one of the worst defeats in their history when they were annihilated on a 4-29 to 0-10 scoreline by Dublin in Sunday's Leinster Championship semi-final, a result that paved the way for a Dublin v Kildare provincial showpiece.

Now Westmeath, a team containing two particularly outstanding players in John Heslin and Kieran Martin, are hoping to regain some of their lost credibility at the Orchard County's expense, a fact of which Toal is only too well aware.

"When you get to this stage of the year you know you are going to get tricky assignments and Westmeath will be very keen to show that they are much better than they were against Dublin," insisted Toal.

"They will take a huge hurt into their game against us, but for our part we recognise that we have plenty to work on in training, and of course we knew this even before the draw for the qualifiers was made."

Armagh's win over Fermanagh at the weekend has served to rekindle optimism within a county which experienced deep disappointment following the Ulster Championship loss to Down at Pairc Esler, Newry earlier this month.

Since then the Armagh team has undergone changes, and the performances of players such as Niall Grimley, Blaine Hughes, Mark Shields, Anthony Duffy and Gavin McParland in particular against Peter McGrath's side has clearly heightened their appetite for more action.

Meanwhile, former Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney will come up against his native county in the qualifiers now that they have been drawn against the Wexford side which he currently manages.

McEnaney took charge of Monaghan for six years without quite getting them to an Ulster title, although they reached the final in both 2007 and 2010.

They will go to Wexford keen to show that they can perform much better than they did at the weekend, and they will be meeting a side that was rather lucky to get past Limerick (0-12 to 0-11) in Round One.

Cavan, who beat Offaly, will now meet a Tipperary side that reached the All-Ireland semi-finals last year only to fall to Mayo.

Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan is aware that his men face a huge test if they are to advance in the qualifiers.

All-Ireland Football Qualifiers Round Two: Cavan v Tipperary, Westmeath v Armagh, Wexford v Monaghan, Carlow v Leitrim.

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