Boidu Sayeh will not be buried by the weight of expectation when he takes to the Croke Park pitch this afternoon with Westmeath for the Allianz League Division 3 final against Laois.
Though he has been identified as an exciting prospect ever since he joined the county minor panel in 2013, the 23-year-old has no grand plans or ambitions for his football career, instead, he takes the approach of just enjoying every game as it comes.
“To play for your county is a big deal. It’s a big deal in Westmeath anyway, to play for your county. I never really thought ‘I want to play Gaelic because I want to get this out of it.’ I just play Gaelic because I love playing Gaelic and I love the players, I have fun with the lads.
“A few of my best friends are on the team so I never really thought about ‘I must get a lifestyle’, I play because it’s good fun, it’s good craic.”
One aspect of the game he is not enjoying at the minute, however, is the restriction that comes with playing corner-back. According to Sayeh, a player in that position doesn’t get the recognition they deserve and so he consistently tries to push forward to prove his worth, but to little avail.
“All I’m told is, ‘Mark this guy. Forget about everything else. Don’t even get on the ball. Mark him.’
“I’m always trying to push myself up there a little bit. It’s literally, ‘Mark him. Keep him scoreless and you’ll be happy out, you’ll have a good game.’
“I’m trying to push myself up a little bit. They’re trying to keep me off the ball!”
The management might have their hands full trying to keep Sayeh in position but little was said when he ventured up the wing in their game against Down, took a pass from Dennis Corroon and slotted his first point in the competition.
“I’m glad you brought that up!”, Sayeh laughed at the launch of the Renault GAA World Games.
“That was my first point in the league. Last year I scored a point in the championship against Armagh, just gonna put that out there! But, yeah, that was my first point during the League. I’m trying to get up there more.
“I thought I was going to be given out to, but, no, they didn’t say anything at all.”
Westmeath appear to be a rejuvenated side following a disastrous season in 2018. A fourth-place finish in the Allianz League was followed by a heavy loss to Laois in the quarter-finals of the Leinster Championship.
Colin Kelly’s side then suffered an 11-point loss to Armagh in the first round of the qualifiers, bringing their season to an end in the second week of June.
Sayeh credits new manager, Jack Cooney, with bringing a renewed spirit to the side.
“Last year was as bit of a shambles – yeah, it was.
“Jack has brought in a good vibe, a good backroom team. Everyone seems to be getting on, competition is tight as well. We’re all happy out.
“He’s very passionate about Westmeath. It’s about bringing that into the group, everyone should be passionate about playing for Westmeath.”
Westmeath face Laois in the Allianz Football League Division 3 Final in Croke Park today at 4.45pm. The game is live on TG4.