Dublin ladies’ football manager, Mick Bohan, said his players were not concerned about winning a seventh TG4 Leinster SFC, but were just keen to kickstart the defence of their All-Ireland title, against Westmeath yesterday.
Two goals from Niamh McEvoy, and 1-5 from Sinead Aherne, ensured that Dublin were always in control at Netwatch Cullen Park, despite Aoife Connolly’s wonder goal for Westmeath, before the interval.
Noelle Healy and Lyndsey Davey also found the net before the break for Dublin, who now face Mayo — a repeat of last year’s TG4 All-Ireland final — and Cavan in the round-robin series of the championship. Westmeath now slot into Group 3, with Galway and Waterford.
“We weren’t looking at the number, it was obviously just the start of a competition for us today, so that’s the way we took it, but it’s nice to rack them up, alright,” said Bohan.
We felt we were very rusty, at times, today, and the reality is going straight into a Leinster final isn’t ideal. That’s the way it is, but it’s not the way you’d want it, so we did what we had to do.
“There was a 15-minute period where we were completely out of that game, so we have a lot to work on. The journey has started, so we’re already looking ahead.”
The game started at a whirlwind pace, with Aherne pointing for Dublin after just 13 seconds. Westmeath drew themselves level with a point from Leanne Slevin, and before the second minute had elapsed, the game had its first goal, when McEvoy scored her first.
Hannah O’Neill and Nicole Owens pushed Dublin five ahead, before Westmeath found another reply, this time Annie Dolan rounding off a nice move.
Healy and Maud Annie Foley swapped scores, before the scoring touch eluded both teams for almost 15 minutes, with the pace of the game dropping.
Dublin eventually brought some life back to proceedings, when a neat passing move, started by Aherne, ended with Healy blasting the ball into the net from close range.
Westmeath looked in trouble, but got back into it in spectacular fashion. Connolly tapped over a free, and then intercepted a loose pass 30 yards out, settled herself, and lobbed Ciara Trant with a brilliant shot that flew into the top corner.
It was 2-4 to 1-4 now, but with Dublin sensing danger, they finished the half strongly.
Aherne slotted a free and then Lyndsey Davey powered home their third goal, and they held a 3-5 to 1-4 lead at the break.
The opening stages of the second-half saw Dublin strengthen their grip on proceedings, as Aherne kicked three points in nine minutes, with Connolly offering the sole reply for Westmeath.
Dublin soon had a fourth goal, as McEvoy cut a perfect line through the Westmeath defence and held her nerve to slot low past Karen Walsh.
S Aherne (1-5, 3 frees), N McEvoy (2-1), N Healy (1-2), L Davey (1-0), H O’Neill, N Owens and A Connolly (0-1 each).
L Slevin (1-3, 1-0 pen, 1 free), A Connolly (1-2, 2 frees), MA Foley, J Maher and A Dolan (0-1 each).
C Trant; M Byrne, S Finnegan, L McGinley; S Goldrick, D Murphy, L Caffrey; O Carey, N McEvoy; N Owens, S McGrath, H O’Neill; S Aherne, N Healy, L Davey.
C Rowe for O’Neill (25), N Collins for Murphy (HT), L Magee for Carey (39), A Connolly for Owens (41), M Ni Scanaill for Caffrey (50).
K Walsh; L Power, J Rogers, R Dillon; F Coyle, K McDermott, N Feery; V Carr, F Claffey; A Dolan, L Slevin, MA Foley; A Connolly, L Walsh, L McCartan.
A Jones for Carr (30), C Blundell for Connolly (45), J Maher for Dolan (45), A Ruane for Power (52).
Stephen McNulty (Wicklow).