Leinster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final: Dublin 2-29, Westmeath 0-10
Dublin breezed past Westmeath with a blistering display at Croke Park this afternoon to stay strong favourites for a record-breaking seventh Leinster SFC title in a row.
The reigning champions have enjoyed many wins by wide margins in recent years, but with 4-23 hit from open play, this will rank among their most sensational performances.
Jim Gavin’s stars will now take on Kildare in the provincial decider at GAA HQ on Sunday, 16th July. Based on their semi-final form, Kildare will provide a sterner test than Westmeath, but Dublin showed they won’t be easily dislodged.
Westmeath held their own in the first half of the 2015 and 2016 provincial finals against Dublin, but it was a different story today.
By half time, Dublin had built up a 1-15 to 0-5 advantage, with their control of possession and speed of attack leaving Westmeath with no answers. The Lake County couldn’t win their own kick-outs and Dublin surged forward relentlessly.
Five of the Dublin forwards and midfielder Brian Fenton got on the scoreboard in the opening half, with the first goal which looked inevitable from the early stages coming in the 28th minute, when Dean Rock finished another superb move by fisting the ball to the net.
Westmeath had done well to be level at 0-4 each by the 12th minute, with nice points from John Heslin, John Egan and Kieran Martin.
But Dublin hit over five in a row between the 13th and 20th minutes, and from that point on a big win for the favourites appeared inevitable.
They continued to play at a different level in the second half. Substitute Eoghan O’Gara blasted home a magnificent goal in the 42nd minute, increasing the gap to 2-18 to 0-7. Dublin were able to bring on other experienced stars including Kevin McManamon and Bernard Brogan, and points continued to flow.
Paul Mannion produced a man of the match display with 0-8, while the other goals were netted by Ciaran Kilkenny in the 70th minute and McManamon deep in injury-time. At this stage, Westmeath were down to 14 players, with Noel Mulligan receiving a black card after they had introduced the maximum number of substitutes allowed.
Dublin Scorers: Paul Mannion 0-8; Dean Rock (3f, 2’45’) 1-5; Ciaran Kilkenny 1-3; Con O’Callaghan 0-3; Kevin McManamon 1-1; Eoghan O’Gara 1-0; Brian Fenton, Paddy Andrews, Shane Carthy, Bernard Brogan (1f) 0-2 each, Jack McCaffrey 0-1.
Westmeath Scorers: John Heslin (2f), Kieran Martin 0-3 each; John Egan 0-2; Ger Egan 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper, Eric Lowndes; Niall Scully, Cian O’Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Ciaran Kilkenny, Paddy Andrews, Paul Mannion; Darren Daly, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock.
Subs: Eoghan O’Gara for Andrews (ht); Shane Carthy for Cooper; David Byrne for Fitzsimons; Bernard Brogan for Rock; Kevin McManamon for Scully; Brian Howard for O’Callaghan.
WESTMEATH: Darren Quinn; Jamie Gonoud, Kevin Maguire, Killian Daly; Mark McCallon, Frank Boyle, James Dolan; Ger Egan, Alan Gaughan; John Egan, Paul Sharry, Callum McCormack; David Lynch, John Heslin, Kieran Martin.
Subs: Noel Mulligan for Gaughan (ht); Kelvin Reilly for McCormack; Cormac Boyle for Daly; Shane Corcoran for Egan; Denis Glennon for Sharry; Alan Stone for Lynch.
Referee: Conor Lane.