The hunt is on for a new Westmeath senior football manager, after Tom Cribbin stepped down from the role today.
Cribbin, who succeeded Paul Bealin in the job in November 2014, guided the Lake County to two consecutive Leinster finals (2015 and 2016), and will be particularly remembered for ending Westmeath's lengthy championship hoodoo against Meath in June 2015.
Although the Maroons struggled in the league under Cribbin's charge, they bounced back by romping to a Division 4 title this year, in what many saw as the ideal foundations for a serious Leinster title charge.
However, demolition at the hands of Dublin in the recent Leinster semi-final, and a Qualifier exit against a beatable Armagh side, led the Clane man to decide that he had brought Westmeath as far as he could.
“I had made my mind up for a while. It was a well thought-out decision,” Cribbin told the local media at a press conference in the Mullingar Park Hotel this afternoon. “I had to ask myself if I could take the lads forward and deliver in the championship. To me, only winning a Leinster title is the next step from where we've been.
“I really enjoyed my time in Westmeath. I have massive respect for everyone here, including the county board and all the players. We had a few ups and downs with different lads, but sure that's life – nobody's going to fall out over it.
“But I just felt that I couldn't take the team on any further and achieve what I would have loved to have achieved for Westmeath.
“Football is all about delivering in the championship. Hopefully someone else will go on and take them to that next step.”
Westmeath County Board chairman Sean Sheridan paid tribute to the departing Cribbin in a statement issued today.
“Tom has decided, after discussions during the past week, to step down from his position, and it is with regret that I accept his decision,” he said.
“Tom came into the job having previously managed at club level in Kildare and Offaly, and as county manager with both Offaly and Laois.
“It was that experience which attracted us to Tom's talents, and as with his personal and business life, Tom brought a great deal of organisation and dedication to the job.
“There were some notable high points in his term, most notably a first ever championship win over Meath at senior level in 2015; two successive Leinster senior final appearances, and an Allianz NFL title earlier this year.
“Tom had an excellent working relationship with the team, clubs and the county officers, and I want to extend my gratitude for what he has done and how he has performed as manager. I would also like to thank his wife Siobhán and their family for their support.”
The process for appointing a new manager begins this week, with the matter to be put to the clubs at a county board meeting this Wednesday night. From there, a management committee is expected to be formed to talk to prospective candidates.