Westmeath manager Michael Ryan is adamant that they have to get off to a good start in the NHL Division 2A campaign.
Last year, the Midlanders lost their opening two matches to Carlow and Kildare which effectively ended any hopes of gaining promotion to 1B.
In their first game this year, Westmeath yet again take on Carlow and Ryan has highlighted the importance of this clash.
"Everything is now geared towards three weeks time and it's all about performing well on the day. It's all systems go; it's a huge game for Westmeath and Carlow," said Ryan.
He added: "We will probably get in one more challenge game and it's down to Carlow then for the first round. They are a very good team and played very well against Wexford in the Walsh Cup.
Ryan added that influential midfielder Aonghus Clarke won't be available for the early rounds of the league, while they have a few niggling injuries in the squad that need to be cleared up quickly.
"Unfortunately, we won't have Aonghus Clarke back for the first few rounds and he's a big loss. Hopefully, everybody else will be available; we have one or two knocks as well. We have got to tidy those up.
"We are under no illusions. The first game is huge and whoever wins that is in a great position."