Westmeath finally got the monkey off their back this past weekend, bringing to an end years of heartbreak to win promotion to Division One of the National Hurling League. It is something that was a long time coming for the rising hurling county, who lost the league final to Carlow last year, as well as a promotion/relegation play-off to Laois in 2016.
Speaking on our Three Man Weave GAA podcast, full back Tommy Doyle explained just what it meant to secure promotion:
I would have preferred to have done it sooner, but look! If you said it at the start of the year, one of our big goals is always to win the league. We done it in 2016, but the way the league was structured we had to be in a play-off, and Laois beat us. So we didn't get the chance to go up.
For myself personally, I'm five or six years trying to get up, and to finally do this. You could see with the celebrations after that we were so relieved, so delighted, and we look forward to the challenges of next year...
We really felt we needed to right a wrong from last year with our performance in the league final, when we weren't good enough and deservingly lost the game.
To give something back to the supporters as well that travelled. I know my own parents travelled to Antrim, to Kerry and down to Clare Sunday. It is great to give something back to them.
The importance of Sunday's final was certainly not lost on Doyle in the build-up to the game, and the pressure even got to him a bit before the game:
I would have felt a good bit of pressure before the game. I wasn't telling anyone that now!
I spoke to a few of the lads, and sometimes it just feels like things are going too well. We were winning games not playing the best and there's kind of a mindset that we've been in this division before and been beaten, so to get over that line is massive.
Hopefully it does take a bit of pressure off us and we can throw off the shackles and enjoy this as much as we can, especially before the summer. We know how good we are with the great games we played last year in the Joe McDonagh Cup. We're delighted and can't wait to play more of it.
To listen to the rest of the interview, you can click here.
Our Three Man Weave GAA podcast is released every Wednesday, featuring weekly interviews and discussion on all the biggest issues in both codes.