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Connaughton hails Westmeath set-up
05 Mar 2015 10:10
Westmeath goalkeeper Gary Connaughton belives the backroom team assembled by manager Tom Cribbin has been instrumental in the county's good start to Division 2 of the Allianz Football League.
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The Lake County made it two wins from three in Allianz League Division 2 with a 0-15 to 0-12 win over Kildare in Newbridge on Sunday. The success was notable in that it was the first time Westmeath had beaten the Lilywhites in the league.
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For Connaughton, who joined Cribbin as a selector before coming out of retirement in January due to a goalkeeping injury crisis, it was his first time to savour that winning feeling against Kildare in either league or championship.
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After a dire 2014 in which Westmeath failed to win any competitive games, the feel-good factor seems to have returned and their long-serving custodian puts a lot of it down to the the new management ticket.
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Speaking to RTÉ Sport, the former All-Star said: "Division 1 last year was probably a step too far for us and it drained the confidence out of the team going into the championship.
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"When Tom took over he got in a backroom team straight away that was going to work with the players off the pitch as well as on.
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"The biggest addition to the team has been Gerry Duffy. He ran 32 marathons in 32 days and is an inspirational speaker. He’s been a huge addition in getting the players' minds and focus right off the pitch. A lot of sport is how mentally right you are going into games."
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Connaughton went on highlight the good work done by Duffy in helping the younger players.
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"A lot of younger lads in the squad have never won anything with Westmeath so they perhaps lack the belief that they can win things. In fairness to Gerry, he’s been getting their heads focused.
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"I know we’ve only won two games in the O’Byrne Cup and two games in the league but still it’s a great start to the year. Hopefully now we can get a good run going in the championship."
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After initially retiring in 2013, 35-year-old Connaughton says it is good back to back.
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"Look, it was nice to be asked back. I was training away with a junior soccer club before Christmas so that kept the weight down.
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"You’ll be long enough not playing so I’ll enjoy it now while it lasts. I'll be playing against Meath next Saturday. We could get a spanking there and that could be the end of it."
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For more listen to Game On, weeknights from 7pm on 2FM
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