A very disappointing display for Westmeath’s heavy loss to Dublin

James

17-Point Defeat: Dublin Dominates Westmeath in Leinster U20 Hurling Qualifier, Concept art for illustrative purpose - Monok

It was a day to forget for the highly-touted Westmeath U20 hurling team as they were comprehensively outplayed by an impressive Dublin side in their Leinster U20 hurling preliminary quarter-final at TEG Cusack Park last Sunday.

From the outset, the unheralded Dubs seized control, racing into an early lead that they never relinquished on their way to a dominant 17-point victory.

With the aid of a slight breeze, Dublin made a blistering start, rattling off six unanswered points in the opening five minutes through Brendan Kenny (two), Jamie Conroy, David Purcell, Conn Rock, and Conal Ó Riain.

While Westmeath did improve in the third quarter, they never looked capable of staging a remarkable comeback against the slick outfit managed by former Westmeath senior boss Shane O’Brien. This heavy defeat was a crushing blow for hurling in the Lake County, coming hot on the heels of senior and minor losses to Offaly the previous day.

Although Darragh McCormack spurned an early goal chance for Westmeath, it was Dublin who continued to impress in attack.

David Williams opened Westmeath’s account from a free, but Conor Groarke and Purcell quickly extended Dublin’s lead to 0-8 to 0-1. Westmeath’s David O’Reilly momentarily raised home hopes with a well-taken goal, but the Dubs responded emphatically through Purcell, Liam Garrigan, and a superb catch and score from O’Reilly himself.

Despite points from Conroy and Williams, Dublin remained firmly in control, with Ó Riain, Eoin Keys, and Purcell stretching their advantage further. Westmeath did finish the half strongly, with McCormack, O’Reilly, and Williams trimming the deficit, but Dublin had amassed an impressive 0-15 to 1-6 half-time lead, with 15 points coming from open play.

A Williams free from the restart briefly boosted Westmeath, but Garrigan quickly replied.

Although Brian McCabe and O’Reilly narrowed the gap to four points, Dublin’s class shone through. Neil Hogan, Conroy, Williams, and O’Reilly traded scores, but Hogan, Purcell, and Ó Dúlaing pushed the Dubs 0-22 to 1-12 ahead at the end of the third quarter, leaving Westmeath with a mountain to climb.

From there, the writing was on the wall for Kevin O’Brien’s charges. Despite Purcell squandering a goal chance, Dublin continued to find the range impressively.

Conroy (two), Ollie Gaffney, Dylan Bannan, Ó Dúlaing, and Hogan all raised white flags as the Dubs pulled further clear. Shane Ormsby was denied a consolation goal, but Ó Dúlaing made no mistake, netting smartly in added time.

Although Williams and Ó Dúlaing swapped late scores, Dublin had long since sewn up a comprehensive victory, with Ó Riain, Bannan, and Ó Dúlaing rubbing salt in Westmeath’s wounds as the Dubs, who had lost both their round-robin games in a higher section, finished in emphatic fashion.

The scoring was spread across several Dublin contributors, with Ó Dúlaing (1-4), Purcell (0-5), Conroy (0-5), and Ó Riain (0-4) leading the way. For Westmeath, O’Reilly (1-4) and Williams (0-7) fought valiantly, but their efforts were ultimately in vain against the rampant Dubs.

While Westmeath had entered the game with high hopes, this was a chastening experience for Kevin O’Brien’s side.

Dublin’s early onslaught set the tone, and despite a brief Westmeath rally, the visitors’ superior quality and clinical finishing proved too much to handle. For Dublin, it was a statement performance as they look to build momentum in the Leinster campaign, with the potential for bigger tests to come against the province’s heavyweight contenders.

Dublin

Kevin Hogan; Conor Groarke, David Lucey, Cathal Kennedy; Brendan Kenny, Conor Dolan, Eoin Keys; Conal O’Riain, Jack Behan; Ollie Gaffney, Diarmaid Ó Dúlaing, David Purcell; Liam Garrigan, Conn Rock, Jamie Conroy. Subs used: Conor Newton for Rock (h-t), Neil Hogan for Kenny (h-t), Dylan Bannan for Behan (52), Fionn Murphy for Garrigan (52), Ciarán Donovan for Newton (inj., 52).

Westmeath

Sean Jackson; David Maloney, Jack Murtagh, Conor Gaffney; Darragh Smith, Brian McCabe, Calum McKeogh; Rian Holding, Ivan Smyth; David Williams, Darragh McCormack, David O’Reilly; Conor Heffernan, Peter Murphy, Peter Clarke. Subs used: Shane Ormsby for Heffernan (25), Josh Murtagh for Smyth (h-t), Tom Flynn for Maloney (58), Cian Geary for Smith (inj., 60), Matt Shaw for Jack Murtagh (60+4), John Fry for Josh Murtagh (blood, 60+9).

Referee

Brian Kearney (Kildare).

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