Ronan O'Toole smiles when he reflects that Saturday’s Tailteann Cup final will be Westmeath’s sixth championship game this year.

The Lake County beat Longford, lost narrowly to Kildare and then beat Offaly, Laois and Carlow in the Tailteann Cup.

"It’s unreal to be playing championship at this time of the year and that’s what we really want, we strive for that," he states.

"After we lost to Kildare, we took Tuesday off and we reset and refreshed.

"We said we would give this a really good rattle and, lucky enough, we are in the final and hopefully we make it four wins out of four.

"I think all of us enjoy playing for realistic silverware," he added.

"Robbie Forde, Nigel Harte and these players have really come on this year with the extra games.

"As I say, this our sixth championship game this year, as compared to playing two and facing being out of contention."

Win, lose or draw on Sunday, there is no doubt that this Westmeath team is developing nicely.

With a fine backroom team, including manager Jack Cooney, Cathal Mullin, Dessie Dolan and John Keane, the team has a nice mix of youth and experience and a fine blend of power and pace.

"The Tailteann Cup allows us to develop more and get more exposure," O’Toole, a senior analyst with JP Morgan adds.

"In a normal season we could be out, but instead we are playing for silverware at the business-end and you can see silverware at the end of the line.

"It’s also a chance to play at Croke Park in front of a huge crowd and it gives a huge incentive to all players – young and old – to go and give this a good rattle."

O'Toole was a wide-eyed young boy when he watched Westmeath win the 2004 Leinster title.

That team featured Dessie Dolan and John Keane – both players at different ends of the fields.

He continues to learn from both.

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"I watched them from a premium box in 2004 thinking I would love to be there someday playing a big game," he recalls.

"While I was in that premium room, I remember grabbing about 15 of those little milk cartons and looking out at them playing the Leinster final against Laois. The thought was simple – 'this is something I would love to do someday’.

"To this day, I’d be chatting to John and Dessie, talking about that team and soaking up how they dealt with different aspects of the game and how they coped with certain instances.

"I love picking up that sort of information."

You ask O’Toole what he loves most about playing for his county and his reply is considered.

"There are a few things," he says. "I love getting great exposure to play against the best teams – playing on the big stage against good teams for high stakes.

"And I love playing with friends and having the craic. Sometimes you must peel it all back and that is something I love doing too.

"You have to enjoy it. It’s hard, but I talk to lads who have retired and one regret that keeps coming up is that they did not get to enjoy the occasions a lot. Now, not that we will get caught up in the occasion, that’s for the fans. But I guess the target is to go out on the field and express yourself, play football like you can and show how good we could be.

"This final against Cavan is a big step up but we have a great management team and backroom team, a good process in place. The younger fellas have their trust in management and have developed nicely to be able to play at this level.

"We follow their guidelines, they have all the tools to get us to where we want to get to.

"We play to the plan but we are trusted to go with instinct too, to make right decisions at right times.

"And I think the main thing is the team is going the right way. The more time we get together to train and play games the more positive it is for us as a group."

Watch the Tailteann Cup final on Saturday at 3pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, with live blog on RTÉ News app and on and live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.