Dublin 2-19 Westmeath 0-10
Dublin’s grip on Leinster tightened ever further with a 15-point defeat of a Westmeath side whose admirable and stubborn first-half resistance wilted in the face of the usual third quarter onslaught, writes Brendan O’Brien.
For the Dubs it is an eleventh senior provincial title in 12 years – and a sixth in a row - and it is a mark of just how good they are that they should struggle for fully one half of football and yet still register a win so comprehensive and a result so inarguable.
Westmeath frustrated them for the first 35 minutes – as well as the eight additional minutes found on the clock by referee Fergal Kelly. By the break there was just one point between them with Jim Gavin's All-Ireland champions restricted to a grand total of just seven scores.
The midlanders set out with two sweepers, Francis Boyle and Callum McCormack, and they did an effective job in that spell while long, diagonal balls into full-forward John Heslin produced some cheer for Tom Cribbin’s men at the other end.
A mark of Dublin’s difficulties came in the 27th-minutes when Diarmuid Connolly took unkindly to having his ruffled by James Dolan and engaged the defender in a headlock which prompted a 24-man kerfuffle near the midfield.
The Dubs were rattled. Or so every neutral hoped.
And yet the game was all but over after 40 minutes, just as it was this time last year when the pair met at the same stage. Two quickfire goals did the damage then. This time it was a torrent of points with nine of the next eleven coming from the men in blue.
There was still plenty of time for icing.
Bernard Brogan’s 58th-minute goal was the culmination for a wonderful collective move while Kevin McManamon’s three-pointer a minute from the end of full-time was similar though the finish into the top corner via the keeper’s fingertips more emphatic.
Much like the result itself.
Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (0-8 frees); B Brogan (1-4); K McManamon (1-2); P Andrews (0-2); J Small, P Flynn and D Connolly (all 0-1).
Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin (0-6, 5 frees); G Egan (0-2); D Corroon, C McCormack (both 0-1).
Dublin: S Cluxton: J Cooper, P McMahon, D Byrne; J Small, C O’Sullivan, E Lowndes; B Fenton, MD Macauley; P Flynn, C Kilkenny, D Connolly; K McManamon, D Rock, B Brogan.
Subs: P Andrews for Lowndes (HT); C O’Callaghan for Macauley (49); D Bastick for Connolly (53); D Daly for Small (56); M Fitzsimons for O’Sullivan (60); P Mannion for Rock (63).
Westmeath: D Quinn; K Daly, F Boyle, J Gonoud; K Maguire, J Dolan, D Lynch; D Corroon, G Egan; A Stone, C McCormack, R Connellan; K Martin, J Heslin, P Sharry.
Subs: D Daly for Connellan (35); S Corcoran for Lynch (53); S Duncan for Daly (55); J Connellan for Martin (58); R Gorman for Maguire (61); D McNicholas for Sharry (65).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford).