Yesterday's Tailteann Cup final was a momentous day for Westmeath.
A county that is not often blessed with the opportunity to lift significant silverware in Croke Park, their victory in the decider over Cavan stands out as one of the most significant games in the team's history.
Occasions like this don't come around often for Westmeath. They have appeared in a couple of Leinster finals over the last decade, although there was never any real chance that they would defeat Dublin on either occasion. This was their biggest achievement since 2004, with the scenes that unfolded in Mullingar last night rivalling those which took place after capturing their only ever provincial crown under Páidí Ó Sé 18 years ago.
— Westmeath GAA (@westmeath_gaa) July 9, 2022
The reaction to the victory certainly put to one side any concerns about how important the Tailteann Cup would be to those involved.
Sporting achievements aside, this game became all the more significant after a pair of tragic losses within Westmeath footballing circles in recent weeks.
A minute's silence was held before yesterday's final to mark the losses of Enda Mulvihill and Eoin Farrell, two beloved figures in Westmeath football who sadly passed away recently.
Enda Mulvihill played for the county at underage level, winning the All-Ireland U21 title with the county in 1999. He would go on to represent his club Garrycastle with distinction in the years that followed, winning numerous county titles and a Leinster club title in 2011. He would pass away after a short battle with illness last month.
It is with tremendous pain and sadness that we announce the passing of one of our most decorated, dedicated and loved club members, Enda Mulvihill after a short illness.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis pic.twitter.com/O02x7MT5Im
— Garrycastle Gaa (@gaagarrycastle) June 22, 2022
Eoin Farrell also won honours with Westmeath at underage level, starting in goal for the team that captured the Leinster minor title in 2000.
With his club Maryland, he helped lead them to a first intermediate title in 28 years back in 2008, as well as winning RTÉ's Celebrity Bainisteoir in the same year. He would pass away last week after his own battle with illness.
As a result, yesterday's final took on an added significance for Westmeath.
It was perhaps fitting that Kieran Martin would score the decisive goal. Martin was a clubmate of Eoin Farrell's, soldiering alongside side each other in the blue of Maryland for a number of years.
There was sure to be a mixed sense of emotions in that moment as the ball hit the back of the net.
Is this the score that decides the Tailteann Cup final? Kieran Martin comes in off the bench, slaloms his way through the Cavan defence and rifles the ball to the back of the net to put Westmeath firmly in charge. #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/dSTgIDXVS9
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) July 9, 2022
After the game, James Crombie of INPHO caught a beautiful moment between Martin and Tom Farrell, the father of Eoin, as they embraced after the final whistle.
Westmeath goalscorer Kieran Martin embraces Tom Farrell, father of former Westmeath goalkeeper Eoin Farrell who passed away last week pic.twitter.com/prBSXQd5BE
— James Crombie (@INPHOjames) July 10, 2022
A remarkable moment.
Speaking after the game Westmeath manager Jack Cooney was quick to dedicate the victory to both Enda Mulvihill and Eoin Farrell.
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) July 9, 2022
Since we were here three weeks ago, we have lost two great Westmeath young gaels that were mentioned here earlier. Enda Mulvihill and Eoin Farrell were two great Westmeath gaels that lost their battle at a young age. They were very, very close to our thoughts and were mentioned in training during the week.
It was very fitting that Kieran Martin, a good friend of Eoin Farrell, got a decisive score towards the end of the game. I'm delighted for Kieran for that.
On what was already sure to be a hugely emotional occasion for Westmeath, this would have made things just that little bit more special for those involved, especially those with links to Garrycastle and Maryland.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h'anam dílis.