Gavin vows to give fringe players chance to shine

Westmeath 0-11 Dublin 0-12

Gavin vows to give fringe players chance to shine

Several of yesterday’s team were on the fringes of last year’s panel but remained involved in a development squad that worked parallel to the main group.

Captain Stephen Cluxton and Ciarán Kilkenny were the only All-Ireland starters who began in Cusack Park, while Jonny Cooper made an appearance as a second half substitute in a scrappy one-point win.

Darren Daly, a used replacement last September, lined out at centre-back.

“It’s a pre-season tournament and it’s there to try players out and to give them an opportunity to stake a claim for a squad place during the Allianz National League,” said Gavin. “We took the same approach last year and we got a good few players from it. We’re only back eight days and had a lot of technical errors in handling and kickpassing, shooting, but that’s to be expected. We got nine scores from play out of the 12, which wasn’t a bad return.”

Gavin’s former team-mate and opposite number yesterday Paul Bealin took satisfaction from the display of a similarly weakened Westmeath side.

“For me it was about the performance and if we can perform against a Dublin squad and give ourselves a chance to win the game and keep the score tight as much as we possibly can then so be it. I was happy enough to perform to the highest level but I hate losing matches like any manager. We’re down about eight of our first team that are not available through injury or playing with their universities. When I say first team, they’ve playing senior championship. A lot of those guys (playing yesterday) have never worn a Westmeath jersey before.”

Having come on as a 55th minute substitute, veteran Dessie Dolan kicked over two points, each time putting Westmeath ahead, and but for the post in the 66th minute would have done so a third time.

“When a game is that tight, these small things make a big difference and to go into a game like that for 10 to 15 minutes and have an impact like that I thought he did quite well,” remarked Bealin of Dolan’s influence. “But that’s exactly what he’s there for. He’s a wealth of experience.”

Dublin were granted a reprieve by Dolan’s miss and two minutes later Kilkenny registered the winner, his second point, when his shot crept over Darren Quinn’s crossbar after a mishit by Paul Hudson.

It meant Dublin retained their one-point advantage from the break when they lead 0-6 to 0-5. Four of their first half scores came from play, half of them via Jason Whelan.

Paul Sharry’s industry helped to keep Westmeath in touch, although it was Stephen Gilmore who was level to denying Kilkenny a certain goal in the 41st minute. Six minutes later at the other end, Cluxton blocked an Alan Giles attempt. Three scores on the trot pushed the home team into a one-point lead by the 52nd minute. Paul Hudson’s third free squared up the game before Dolan’s arrival. His two points were cancelled out by Harry Dawson and Eric Lowndes before Kilkenny kicked the last score of the afternoon. The Dublin team did feature two of Pat Gilroy’s 2011 All-Ireland winning team, Mick Fitzsimons and Kevin Nolan, who were peripheral figures last season.

“Both those players and a lot more have shown great attitude last year and again over the last week,” said Gavin. “They’re very determined to push on and stake for claims for National League and Championship.”

Scorers for Westmeath: A Giles 0-3 (frees); P Sharry (frees), D Dolan 0-2 each; D Duffy, C McCormack, J Gonoud, L Smyth (0-1 each).

Scorers for Dublin: P Hudson (0-4, 3 frees); J Whelan, C Kilkenny (0-2 each); E Fanning, C Walsh, H Dawson, E Lowndes (0-1 each).

WESTMEATH: D Quinn; S Gilmore, S Flynn, D Dolan; J Egan, J Gilligan, J Gonoud; D Duffy, D Coroon; L Smyth, G Hoey, P Sharry; K Daly, A Giles, C McCormack.

Subs: T McDaniel for K Daly (46); D Dolan for A Giles (55); S Daly for L Smyth (62); D Harte for G Hoey (65).

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; D Nelson, S George, M Fitzsimons; E Lowndes, D Daly, K Nolan; D O’Mahony, S Carthy; C Walsh, H Dawson, J Whelan; P Hudson, C Kilkenny, P Ryan.

Subs: E Fanning for P Ryan (h-t); J Cooper for S George, C Guckian for K Nolan (both 55); C Mullins for D O’Mahony (58).

Referee: D Coldrick (Westmeath)

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