Late Kilkenny point ensures O’Byrne Cup win for Dubs

Experimental line-up pushed all the way by Paul Bealin’s Westmeath in Mullingar

Eric Lowndes challenges Westmeath’s Paul Sharry during the O’Byrne Cup clash at Mullingar. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Eric Lowndes challenges Westmeath’s Paul Sharry during the O’Byrne Cup clash at Mullingar. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho


Westmeath 0-11 Dublin 0-12

Assuming they had their cake this Christmas and ate it too this was a nice sprightly display by the All-Ireland champions. Not that Westmeath didn’t run them close every step of the way in Mullingar, only losing out at the death when Ciarán Kilkenny struck the winning point for Dublin.

That the game unfolded without a single flashing of the new black card might also reflect a lack of any competitive bite, which surely won’t be the case when the teams meet again in the Allianz Football League in a few weeks’ time.

There were, however, six yellow cards (three for each team), all for more familiar fouling, and a couple for off-the-ball incidents too: when Dublin’s Darragh Nelson pulled down Paul Sharry on 49 minutes it looked, momentarily, that referee David Coldrick would flash the black card, and in fairness it was a decision which would could have gone either way.

“Well I’m sure all players on both sides were very conscious of it (the black card),” noted Dublin manager Jim Gavin. “We didn’t see one there today, but I still think the referee let the game develop. There were some good tackles going in.

“But the referee took the right decision to give players yellow cards, as opposed to the cynical play, that wasn’t on view today.”

Whether or not that continues to be the case as the season heads into more competitive mode remains to be seen.

“Well I think if you asked both managers, both sets of players, I think they gave it all there today,” added Gavin.

“Every championship panel is very competitive and players are looking for slots. And I think players played the rules very well. We got some very good briefings from officials within Dublin and from Croke Park, and the players are well up to speed on it. David Coldrick handled the game very, very well, I think made great use of the advantage rule, so I thought the new rules worked.”

Cynical fouling
That may well be the consensus for now. Paul Bealin – Dublin’s former All-Ireland winner in his first season in charge of Westmeath – agreed that the lack of any black cards here probably suggests a simple acceptance that so-called cynical fouling won’t be tolerated now.

“Nobody likes to see anyone get a black card,” said Bealin, “and I think it is all about the prevention of cynical fouling as much as you possibly can. For me, it was a good, clean game, and competitive. I thought it was officiated very well, and the advantage rule worked well.

“And for me it was about the performance, and if we can perform against a Dublin squad, give ourselves a chance to win the game and keep the score tight as much as we possibly can, they I’d be happy out. I just don’t like losing.”

Bealin’s team actually had an advantage over Dublin for much of the game.

Paul Sharry was orchestrating most of their attacking play from a mostly defensive set-up, and class scores from Lorcan Smith and then substitute Dessie Dolan moved them a point clear on the hour.

There were level again close to the 70 minutes, and while Dolan’s late effort went off the post and wide, instead of providing a potential winner, it was Kilkenny who had the last word with his typically composed effort at the end. It was his second point of the day.

Encouraging return
Paul Hudson’s four points (including three frees), and valuable scores too from newcomers Jason Whelan and Conor Walsh, ultimately helped edge Dublin home. There was also an encouraging return to the fray for both Michael Fitzsimons and Kevin Nolan, the 2011 All-Ireland winners who sat out most of last year’s winning campaign.

“We’re only back collectively now after eight days,” added Gavin. “It was pleasing to see our guys keep their composure right to the end. We also got nine scores from play out of the 12 which wasn’t a bad return, particularly as there were a lot of players that we took from the clubs, to give them a run.

“They’re very determined to push on and stake claims for league and championship and there are no guarantees for any player that played last year. For us 2013 is definitely in the past.”
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; D Nelson, S George, M Fitzsimons; E Lowndes (0-1), D Daly, K Nolan; D O’Mahony, S Carthy; P Hudson (0-4, 3f), C Kilkenny (0-2), P Ryan; C Walsh (0-1), H Dawson (0-1), J Whelan (0-2). Subs: E Fanning (0-1) for Ryan (h-t), J Cooper for George, C Guckian for Nolan (both 54m), C Mullins for Carthy (58m).
WESTMEATH: D Quinn; S Gilmore, S Flynn, Damien Dolan; J Gonoud (0-1), J Gilligan, J Egan; D Duffy (0-1), D Cooroon; P Sharry (0-2, 2f), G Hoey, K Daly; A Giles (0-3, 3f), C McCormack (0-1), L Smith (0-1). Subs: T McDaniel for Daly (46m); Dessie Dolan (0-2) for Giles (55m), S Daly for Smith (63m), D Harte for Hoey (65m).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)