This Sunday, for the first time in eleven years Westmeath are back in the Leinster senior football final when they play Dublin in Croke Park. So what better time than now to turn back the clock and take a look back at the Lake county’s greatest year.
After being axed as Kerry manager, Paidi O Se took the plunge and took the Westmeath managers job from the departed Luke Dempsey. This was the Kerry man’s first job outside of the Kingdom, so there was always going to be uncertainty as to what impact he would have.
Next to nobody could have imagined what the year 2004 was to have in store.
The Championship campaign began with a first ever win in the Championship over their midlands rivals Offaly. The bare minimum separated the sides at the finish. This all happened with only 14 men for the most part, and the faithful county missing a few late chances. A great day for everyone associated with Westmeath after getting one over their rivals.
Next up was Dublin in the quarter final and one of the shocks of the year. This game was very unusual as it was the first on a double header which is something you don’t see with the Dublin team now. After suffering a bad start, Westmeath gradually got back into it and eventually achieved a two point win to the delight of all their supporters.
Below is a glimpse of how Westmeath achieved the momentous win over the Dubs.
A semi-final win over Wexford duly followed and before you knew it Westmeath were in a Leinster final. Next up was Laois, and a first ever managerial meeting between two Kerry legends Paidi O Se and Mick O Dwyer.
It took two great games to get over the line but Westmeath duly did and as like through the whole campaign, they got the bit of luck that may have been missing previously, as Laois missed a glorious goal chance late in the replay that would have crushed every Westmeath supporter in Croke Park that day.
After years of trying, they had finally achieved a provincial title, and a lot of the team was based on players who won All Ireland Minor and under 21 titles with the county prior to this. It was the day Westmeath finally arrived on the senior stage and a wily Kerryman oversaw it all.
Heres a look back at that great day for Westmeath.
The fairytale duly ended in the All Ireland Quarter Final when Derry defeated them, but nobody from Westmeath will ever forget the year of 2004. It was the year they finally fulfilled their potential and Paidi O Sé had a massive influence in this regard.
Whatever hadn’t worked for them before certainly worked that yea, and the fact that five players; Dessie Dolan, Dennis Glennon, Gary Connaughton, John Keane and Donal O Donoghue all won All Stars is testament to their great year.
This Sunday, the likes of John Heslin, Ger Egan and Kieran Martin among others will look to emulate those that went before them and bring the Delaney Cup back to Mullingar. The fact that Dennis Glennon and Gary Connaughton are still involved will indeed be very important for the big day.
So if all that has still not whet the appetite for the weekend for all you Westmeath Supporters, your in for a real treat.
Below is the entire marooned documentary which charted Westmeath’s march to glory in 2004. Enjoy!