Dublin 0-11 Westmeath 0-13, O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
Seamus Qualter’s Westmeath side made history in weather-hit Portlaoise as they ended Dublin’s Leinster championship campaign with a 0-13 to 0-11 victory.
The midlanders earned only their second championship win over the Dubs – their previous one was back in 1982 – as wing forward Andrew Mitchell scored 0-08 (7f, 1 ’65) as the rain sheathed down at O’Moore Park.
Dublin’s David Curtin hit six frees from six attempts to help his side go in at the break with a 0-09 to 0-06 lead.
But turning into the wind, the Dubs faltered with wing back Tommy Moore sent off in injury-time. Westmeath, the reigning Christy Ring Cup champions, grabbed the game’s final five points to set up a prized semi-final against Kilkenny on June 10.
Dublin manager Tommy Naughton drafted Sam Lehane in at left corner forward after Alan McCrabbe (knee) failed a late fitness test. And despite the constant rain and a first-minute mistake by captain Philip Brennan which allowed Derek McNicholas to point Westmeath in front, the capital side edged 0-05 to 0-01 clear by the quarter-hour mark.
David Sweeney and Michael Carton lined up scores with wing forward Curtin landing his first three frees. But Westmeath rallied and managed to cut the gap to three for the interval.
A hand pass from skipper John Shaw set Brendan Murtagh up for a fine 16th-minute point. Then Mitchell made it a two-point game with his first free before adding another on 24 minutes.
Dublin hit three on the bounce in reply with two Curtin frees sandwiching a neat left-sided score from midfielder John McCaffrey, who captained the Dublin minors to Leinster glory last year.
The half petered out with Mitchell and Curtin again swapping frees and Westmeath substitute Daniel Carthy latching onto a rebounded Mitchell effort to point in injury-time.
With nine of the first half’s fifteen points coming from frees, Mitchell continued that trend by firing over his fourth early in the second half. Curtin then missed his first shot at the posts on 41 minutes and with little in the way of ball for their forwards to work on, the second half proved a disappointing one for the Dubs.
Westmeath simply lasted the longer in the trying conditions. Dublin could only muster two points in the entire second half with Liam Ryan (44 minutes) and Curtin (52) striking over. Curtin’s seventh free pulled the Division Two champions 0-11 to 0-08 clear, but a strong finish from the Lake county earned them a shot at Kilkenny in Mullingar next month.
After Joseph Clarke had a goal chance blocked out for a ’65, Mitchell pointed the placed ball. McNicholas added to his tally, then on the hour, Mitchell pointed a free after Dublin full back Ryan was yellow carded.
The point of the afternoon followed when Clonkill ace Mitchell thumped over a free from 85 yards out. Now in front for only the second time at 0-12 to 0-11, Westmeath looked good, although Dublin substitute Eoin Moran should have done better with a point chance from 35 yards out.
The tireless Barry Kennedy hit was proved to be the clinching point on 67 minutes and the Dubs’ frustrations were compounded when Moore was sent off for his second bookable offence – a needlessly high challenge on Darren McCormack – in the dying seconds.
DUBLIN: G Maguire; P Brennan (capt), K Ryan, T Brady; M Carton (0-01), R Fallon, T Moore; D Sweeney (0-01), J McCaffrey (0-01); S McDonnell, L Ryan (0-01), D Curtin (0-07 (7f)); K Dunne, K Flynn, S Lehane.
Subs used: E Moran for McDonnell (29 mins), J Kelly for Lehane (43), G O’Meara for Dunne (62), A De Paor for McCaffrey (64), A McCrabbe for Curtin (70)
WESTMEATH: M Briody; C Jordan, C Murtagh, P Greville; J Shaw (capt), D McCormack, N Gavin; E Loughlin, B Connaughton; G Gavin, B Murtagh (0-01), A Mitchell (0-08 (7f, 1 ‘65)); B Kennedy (0-01), D McNicholas (0-02), J Clarke.
Subs used: D Carthy (0-01) for Gavin (21 mins)
Referee: Johnnie Ryan (Tipperary)