Dublin come away from Mullingar with comfortable win

Plucky Westmeath challenge under Joe Fortune put to the sword by late Burke frees

Westmeath’s Darragh Egerton holds on to the ball under pressure from Eamonn Dillon of Dublin. Photograph: Ashley Cahill/Inpho

Westmeath 1-16 Dublin 0-27

Dublin manager Mattie Kenny was "delighted to get the win and come away with the two points" from Mullingar on Sunday afternoon, his unbeaten side having had to work hard to dispose of a plucky Westmeath challenge in the third round-robin tie of the Leinster senior hurling championship, played in slippery underfoot conditions.

Clearly stung by their hammering in Salthill eight days earlier, Westmeath hurled with spirit and no little skill in the first half. The reliable Donal Burke nudged Dublin ahead from a sixth-minute free before Niall O'Brien belatedly equalised some two minutes later, his side having already hit five disappointing wides in the opening exchanges.

Westmeath’s Davy Glennon and Conor Burke of Dublin challenge for the ball. Photograph: Ashley Cahill/Inpho

The home team, under the tutelage of Joe Fortune, a man very familiar with all aspects of Dublin hurling, went toe-to-toe with the red-hot favourites throughout the first half and were unlucky to be trailing at the interval (0-12 to 0-11).


Nothing epitomised their spirit more than a superb solo point from their highly-rated full-back Tommy Doyle in the 26th minute. Behind him, Noel Conaty was called into action to good effect on a couple of occasions. Top scorers, Killian Doyle (five frees) and Donal Burke (three frees) both registered six points in the opening half, and they went on to share the scoring honours with 11 each.

Half-time sub Fergal Whitley pointed just 17 seconds after the resumption of play. Killian Doyle’s accuracy from placed balls kept the home side in touch, but Mattie Kenny’s troops were able to get their scores a little easier than their hosts. Riain McBride finished the game with six points from play, but a number of them were scored in acres of space.

Westmeath trailed by 0-21 to 0-15 when Killian Doyle was very narrowly wide from a goal chance in the 55th minute. However, McBride pointed directly from the puck-out, a regular trend throughout the game. A Lake County goal did arrive on the hour mark when a delivery by sub Ciarán Doyle (a twin brother of Killian) was only batted out by Seán Brennan and O’Brien was on hand to boot the sliotar to the net.

They now trailed by just three points (0-22 to 1-16), but they were unable to build on the goal and Dublin added five unanswered points in the closing stages, three of them from Burke frees, to emerge as reasonably comfortable winners.

After the game, Kenny lauded the Lake County challenge, stating: “Westmeath worked really hard in the first half and we knew there would be a bit of a backlash from them. But in the second half our guys played much better and got more space, and we began to cope better with the slippery conditions. This is always a difficult venue to come down to. Westmeath are very proud hurling people.”

His opposite number was generally pleased with his team’s efforts, but remains frustrated with their inability to take a big scalp. “We knew that Dublin had won their first two games. We were right in it up to about the 55th minute and we had a goal chance towards the end which we didn’t take. I was very proud of the performance the lads put in, but there comes a time when performances like this are fine but the lads are craving to get to the next level. But, hats off to Dublin, they needed to close out the game and they did,” Fortune opined.

WESTMEATH: N Conaty; C Shaw, T Doyle (0-1), D Egerton; A Craig, R Greville, J Galvin; J Boyle, C Boyle; K Regan (0-1), D McNicholas, N Mitchell; N O'Brien (1-3), K Doyle (0-11, 10 frees), D Glennon.

Subs: C Doyle for McNicholas (h/t), O McCabe for Regan (53 mins), D Clinton for O'Brien (65), J Bermingham for Egerton (70 +2).

DUBLIN: S Brennan; J Madden (0-2), E O'Donnell, C O'Callaghan (0-1); D Ryan, P Smyth, S Barrett; C Burke (0-1), C Crummey (0-3); D Burke (0-11, seven frees), R McBride (0-6), D Sutcliffe (0-1); P Crummey, R Hayes, A Mellett.

Subs: F Whitely (0-2) for P Crummey (h/t), E Dillon for Hayes (53 mins), L Rushe for Mellett (58), D Gray for Barrett (59), M Schutte for Rushe (inj, 65).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).