Second-half collapse sees Westmeath suffer more Leinster final heartache

Philly McMahon of Dublin tussles with John Heslin and Paul Sharry of Westmeath during the Leinster final. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Philly McMahon of Dublin tussles with John Heslin and Paul Sharry of Westmeath during the Leinster final. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Westmeath suffered a second successive Leinster SFC Final defeat when losing against All Ireland champions Dublin at Croke Park on Sunday.

The Midlanders were plucky throughout a tight first half, but Jim Gavin’s team took control after the restart emerging commanding 2-19 to 0-10 victors.

Cribbin reflected on a damaging third quarter in which Dublin seized the initiative. “There’s disappointment with the second half,” he admitted. “Especially that first five, six minutes of the second half. We knew we had to try and hold them for that spell; they have been blowing teams away in that period. We have talked heavily on it, but obviously they got their tactics very right at half time.

“We could see Cian O’Sullivan going to wing-back and they had seven forwards and they changed it around straight away. You need to be able to talk to your five defenders all at once. At that stage we nearly needed to go zonal, the way they were pulling us. But it’s very difficult to get that message out from the sideline once the game starts. So they got the element of surprise in the second half.”

Initially, Westmeath’s defensive approach frustrated Dublin, who eventually pulled clear in the closing stages courtesy of goals from Bernard Brogan and Kevin McManamon.

Cribbin feels that Westmeath have significant room for improvement: “Just the basic errors, we gave them the first point. It was our sideline ball and we gave them the ball. All of a sudden from the reaction of that, us dropping our heads, they won the next ball and kicked a score. Next thing there are three or four scores in it just like that.

“The lads are hard on themselves when they make a mistake. Instead of moving on in the game and having that confidence, they are too hard on themselves when they make a basic error. They need to forget about that, to go for the next ball. But we had talked about it quite a bit because we knew it was going to come early in the second half.”

Cribbin believes Dublin’s standards won’t drop anytime soon. “No, no way. They’re doing too much good work at underage. They have super coaching structures in place. They have structures in place and have learned now. They will only get better. The rest are going to have to get up to them.”

Westmeath will hope to respond when they play Mayo in an All Ireland Round 4B qualifier at GAA headquarters on July 30.

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