Dublin qualified for their third Leinster Under-21 final in four years with a comprehensive 13-point victory over Westmeath at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise last night.
Dublin made the ideal start when Mark Schutte’s goal after 23 seconds was followed by a second from Jack McCaffrey with barely three minutes played. However, Westmeath were level before the break but second-half goals by Paul Hudson and Ciarán Kilkenny, in a period where Dublin scored 2-9 without reply, killed off the challenge of the Lake County.
Schutte’s goal caught the Westmeath defence napping when he beat Eoin Carbery at his near post, and midfielder Emmet Ó Conghaile followed that with a point a minute later. From the ensuing Carbery kickout, the Dubs grabbed their second goal with a brilliant effort.
Jack McCaffrey won possession to the left of the centre and began an electrifying run down the wing, before cutting in and slotting past Carbery for a magnificent goal.
Dublin seemed to be in complete control, leading 2-3 to 0-1 in the 16th minute, but the loss of the influential Ó Conghaile through injury saw a complete change in momentum.
The Lucan Sarsfields club man was still receiving treatment on the pitch when the lively Callum McCormack fisted over Westmeath’s second point.
Seanie Daly followed that with a cracking score before Westmeath got the goal that brought them right back into the game.
Dublin Keeper Ryan O’Flaherty failed to deal with a high ball from Ger Egan and Kelvin Reilly was on hand to fist home the rebound.
Over the next eight minutes, two John Heslin frees and a point from Alan Stone brought Westmeath level by the 27th minute, but Ciaran Kilkenny came to life in injury-time and split the posts twice to leave the Dubs 2-5 to 1-6 ahead at the break.
Hudson, in the 38th minute, and Kilkenny five minutes later, added second-half goals for the Metropolitans and only a couple of excellent saves late on by Eoin Carbery prevented the scoreline from getting very embarrassing for Westmeath.
The points flowed for Dublin in the final 15 minutes with Kilkenny and Hudson, in particular, catching the eye. Hard working duo Gary Sweeney and Ciaran Reddin also deservedly got themselves on the scoresheet.
Scorers for Dublin: C Kilkenny 1-6 (1f), P Hudson 1-4 (1f), M Schutte 1-0, J McCaffrey 1-0, E O’Conghaile 0-1, G Seaver 0-1, G Sweeney 0-1, P Maguire 0-1, C Reddin 0-1.
Westmeath: K Reilly 1-1 (1f), J Heslin 0-3fs, C McCormack 0-2, S Daly 0-1, A Stone 0-1, D Gavin 0-1.
DUBLIN: R O’Flaherty; J Smith, K O’Brien, M Concarr; L Fletcher, J Kelly, J McCaffrey; E Ó Conghaile, C Walsh; C Reddin, G Sweeney, M Schutte; C Kilkenny, P Hudson, P Ryan.
Subs: P Ó Higgins for Ó Conghaile, inj, 16; S George for Smith, 23; G Seaver for Walsh, h/t; J Smith for Concarr, h/t; P Maguire for Ryan, inj, 46.
WESTMEATH: E Carbery; K Sheridan, D Gavin, S Gilmore; D Malynn, B Moran, K Maguire; T English, J Heslin; G Egan, K Reilly, J Gonoud, S Daly, A Stone, C McCormack.
Subs: C Boyle for Gonoud, 43; E Gorman for Reilly, 54; P Fennell for Stone, 54; E Boland for Malynn, 54.
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).
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