Westmeath's Shane Ormsby is held back by Dublin's Evan Nugent. Photo: John McCauley.

Westmeath no match for dominant Dubs as Meath await

EirGrid Leinster U20 Football Championship first round

Dublin 1-15 Westmeath 0-6

By Gerry Buckley

Westmeath’s U20 footballers were very much outplayed and outmuscled in Kinnegad last Tuesday night by an impressive Dublin team in their first robin game in the Leinster championship.

This blunt assessment is unlikely to be queried by any home mentors or fans in the good-sized crowd present on what was a dreary night. Unsurprisingly, given all the recent rain, the match was played on a slippery surface, but the metropolitans coped better with this and, indeed, all other obstacles put their way.

The manner of the defeat means Damien Gavin’s troops need to up their performance very dramatically for their trip to Ashbourne to face Meath tomorrow night (Tuesday, throw-in 7.30pm) when they require a win to keep their championship hopes alive.

Five different Dublin players – Karl Flynn, Mark McNally, Cyde Burke, Luke O’Boyle, and Paul Reynolds Hand – kicked a point apiece from open play to put them 0-5 to 0-0 ahead at the end of the opening quarter. Westmeath’s attacks in that period were few and far between, despite hard-working skipper Brían Cooney bringing out an athletic punched clearance from David Leonard in the fifth minute.

A Cooney free got Westmeath on the scoreboard in the 19th minute, and Tiarnán O’Donovan quickly added a second to settle the team. However, it was already patently clear that the sky blue and navy-clad outfit were superior all over the pitch, and a fisted point from Jamie McCarville preceded a close-range goal from Flynn which all but killed the game off in the 22nd minute.

Ciaran Farrelly’s troops added three more unanswered points before the break, courtesy of Flynn (with his fist), Dan Murphy (despite being pressurised), and Burke (whose strong and direct running was hugely impressive). It was already a case of ‘game, set and match’ to the metropolitans who led by 1-9 to 0-2 at the break.

Dublin reopened proceedings with a brace from the hard-working Reynolds Hand – the first of them from a free. Cooney, who with defender Daragh Lowry were the losers’ two most consistent players on an eminently forgettable night, then doubled his tally from frees, this time from 45 metres.

However, a point apiece from that man Burke (who had a goal as his target) and powerfully-built full-forward McCarville increased the winners’ lead to 13 points (1-13 to 0-3). Substitute Rory Cole (a fine score) and Reynolds Hand (a free) traded points by midpoint of the second moiety.

Any element of competition had long since disappeared and, accordingly, much of the fare on offer in the closing quarter was pedestrian. Despite the sending off of Dublin’s Jamie Smith in the 47th minute – a black card followinf an earlier yellow – Westmeath never looked like making their numerical advantage count in any meaningful way.

They did, however, manage to outscore their guests by 0-2 (Eoin Bracken and Shane Ormsby) to 0-1 (McCarville, moments after he had a 'goal' correctly disallowed for fisting the ball to the net) in the closing period.

The victors' goalie Leonard had very little to do all evening, but he was still alert enough to deny Shane Corcoran what looked a certain goal with a wonderful finger-tip save in injury-time at the expense of an unconverted '45'.

Man of the match: Clyde Burke (Dublin). There were shades of the great Kevin Moran in his brief spell as a Gaelic football centre half-back par excellence about the young St Patrick’s, Donabate man. Enough said!

Key moment: Westmeath were still somewhat in contention until Karl Flynn netted from close range in the 22nd minute.

Talking point: The obvious – and worrying – difference in the strength and conditioning between the two teams.

Referee watch: Kevin Williamson had a relatively easy night in charge of the whistle and he got Jamie Smith’s three cards correct.

Scorers – Dublin: K Flynn 1-2, P Reynolds Hand 0-4 (2f), C Burke, J McCarville 0-3 each, L O’Boyle, D Murphy, M McNally 0-1 each. Westmeath: B Cooney 0-2 (2f), T O’Donovan, E Bracken, S Ormsby, R Cole 0-1 each.

Dublin: David Leonard; Seán Kirwan, Finn Bruton, Evan Nugent; Jamie Smith, Clyde Burke, Matthew Gardiner; Charlie McMorrow, Greg McEneaney; Dan Murphy, Paul Reynolds Hand, Luke O’Boyle; Mark McNally, Jamie McCarville, Karl Flynn. Subs used: Ryan Fahey for McNally (41 mins), Paddy Kelly for McEneaney (41), James Brady for Flynn (51), Senan Ryan for O’Boyle (52), Oscar Donohoe for Kirwan (60).

Westmeath: Senan O’Driscoll; Adam Keane, Cormac Monaghan, Seanaí Bracken; Liam Daly, Jason Macken, Daragh Lowry; Tadhg Baker, Shane Ormsby; Tiarnán O’Donovan, Brían Cooney, Eoin Bracken; Ronan Murray, Shane Hanley, Shane Corcoran. Subs used: Jack Duncan for Baker (inj., 22 mins), Rory Cole for O’Donovan (h-t), Matthew Thornton for Murray (40 mins), Dylan Franzoni for Bracken (56).

Referee: Kevin Williamson (Offaly).