Now that Westmeath have had some quiet time to reflect on their ousting of Brendan Hackett, they need to ask themselves one simple question. Are they any better off heading into this championship? The legacy left behind by players like John Keane, Derek Heavin and David O'Shaughnessy was turning Westmeath into a county we heard of for something other than the Shannon. If the players that have replaced them don't actually win a few games quickly, their legacy will be getting rid of a manager who was building for both the medium and long term.
It's exactly why such a decision shouldn't have been a reflex action to league form but these Westmeath players have heaped an awful lot of pressure on themselves, which isn't the best idea considering they haven't been all that good when there's been no pressure at all. But this group wanted instant results which Hackett couldn't provide. They must now show it was their manager's fault and not theirs by getting those instant results, starting with a win today.
We won't hold our breaths. They haven't won a single league match since 2008. In their last two winter campaigns only Kilkenny have scored less and in this league campaign only Kilkenny conceded more per game. In fact they've won only two out of their last 23 competitive outings; the O'Byrne Cup Shield win over Kilkenny this year hardly a badge of honour, not that the win over Wicklow in last year's championship was a cause for much more pride as they collapsed like the proverbial house of cards to Dublin in the next round.
Since Tullamore last year, both counties' fortunes have veered apart. Wicklow were the most entertaining team in the qualifiers, not because of their fairytale story, but because of their style of play, and they've carried so many of the positives of last summer into this one. James Stafford showed against Carlow he can carry quite a bit of the burden left behind by Thomas Walsh's departure, Tony Hannon is as reliable as ever from dead balls, Leighton Glynn is one of the top three half-forwards in the province while Paul Earls offers a new threat inside to go along with Seánie Furlong. And while Podge McWalter's loss cannot be underestimated, neither can the return of All Star nominee Ciarán Hyland be overestimated.
There are still some weapons carried by Westmeath. Francis Boyle is as honest a defender as you'll find, David Duffy is underrated and Martin Flanagan is a danger at full-forward.
But Dessie Dolan doesn't start and Dennis Glennon is unreliable so there isn't the scoring threat to stop this Wicklow side reaching a first provincial semi-final since 1995.
Leinster SFC Quarter-Final: Westmeath v Wicklow, O'Connor Park, Tullamore, 3.30 Referee M Collins (Cork)
WESTMEATH G Connaughton; F Boyle, D O'Donoghue, J Gaffey; M Ennis, K Martin, D Harte; D Duffy, P Bannon; J Smyth, C Lynam, A Gaughan; P Greville, M Flanagan, D Glennon
WICKLOW M Travers; S Kelly, D Ó hAnnaidh, A Byrne; C Hyland, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, JP Dalton; L Glynn, T Hannon, N Mernagh; P Dalton, S Furlong, P Earls