Chris Bennett fires Dublin into Leinster U-21 hurling final
Two superb second-half goals prove the difference against plucky Westmeath
Man of the match Chris Bennett of Dublin with his trophy and young supporters after the Leinster U21 semi-final win over Westmeath at Parnell Park. Photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Dublin 2-17 Westmeath 1-14
Dublin advanced to the Leinster U-21 final with a six-point win over Westmeath at Parnell Park last night.
Ultimately, it was Chris Bennett that proved the difference between the sides with the Faughs player excelling in addition to landing two sublime second-half goals.
Despite posting a first minute point by Seán Ó Riain, the hosts struggled for fluency initially with Westmeath seizing the early initiative following scores by Niall Mitchell, Jack Galvin and Ciarán Doyle.
Ó Riain missed a glorious chance when firing against the crossbar in the 12th minute and that disappointment was compounded 30 seconds later when Doyle was on hand to kick home from close range after hesitancy in the home defence.
Bennett, Colm O’Neill and AJ Murphy trimmed Dublin’s deficit as the half progressed but successive points from Clinton and Mitchell restored Westmeath’s four-point lead by the 20th minute.
Dublin responded and , with Bennett and Murphy to the fore in attack, managed to reel in their opponents with Cian Boland making an instant impression with a well-taken score within two minutes of his introduction.
Leading 0-10 to 1-6 at the break, Dublin struck their first vital goal after 40 minutes.
Bennett raced away from Alan Cox to plant a superb shot past Sean Maher at his near post from 12 yards.
Gallant Westmeath remained in contention thanks to points from Doyle and Warren Casserly but the contest was effectively settled 11 minutes from time as Bennett fired home another fine finish from distance for Dublin’s second goal.
DUBLIN: J Treacy; E O’Donnell, J Madden, C Hendricken; M McCallion, C Mac Gabhann, P O’Dea (0-1); J Malone, J Bellew; E McHugh, AJ Murphy (0-3), S Treacy (0-1, free); C O’Neill (0-1), S O Riain (0-2), C Bennett (2-6, four frees). Subs: C Boland (0-3) for McHugh (19), R McBride for McCallion (39), F Ó Riain Broin for O’Dea (41), S Gray for Murphy (46), B Bolger for Bellew (56),
WESTMEATH: S Maher; A Cox, C Shaw, M Heeney; J Rabbitte, L Varley, R Gillen; W Casserly (0-1), K Doyle; D Egerton, L Cassidy, N Mitchell (0-2, one sideline); J Galvin (0-1), C Doyle (1-7, five frees, one ‘65’), D Clinton (0-3, two frees). Subs: P Scally for Cassidy (half-time), D Giles for Cox (42).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Wexford)