Day to forget for Westmeath as Dubs run riot

Kevin Maguire of Westmeath charges down Eoghan O'Gara.  Photo: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

Kevin Maguire of Westmeath charges down Eoghan O'Gara. Photo: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

Sunday proved to be a demoralising afternoon for Westmeath, who suffered a 4-29 to 0-10 Leinster SFC semi-final defeat against Dublin.

The All-Ireland champions were always in control as Westmeath could not contain Jim Gavin's rampant team.

Trailing by 1-15 to 0-5 at the interval, Westmeath failed to recover after the restart, with Dublin utterly dominant.

Paul Mannion struck eight points from play for Dublin, while Dean Rock, Ciaran Kilkenny, Kevin McManamon, and Eoghan O'Gara all netted goals.

It was a tough 70 minutes for the Midlanders, who now face Armagh in Round 2B of the qualifiers on Saturday, July 8, at TEG Cusack Park.

Dublin dictated the agenda, with Westmeath manager Tom Cribbin acknowledging their midfield supremacy. Westmeath repeatedly failed to retain possession throughout the encounter.

“Yeah, we're small in the middle, to have the pace to play them, we'd worked so hard on it, but we have been struggling of late there in that area.

“It's very difficult for the keeper, teams are learning how to play a zonal shape now in defence instead of man-marking and pushing lads up into squares like basketball and pushing extra bodies up.

“Teams of the calibre of Dublin are not afraid to push 12 lads up into that zone and it makes it very, very difficult unless you have an out-man. We just couldn't win it, we couldn't get our hands on it.”

In the 2015 and 2016 provincial deciders Westmeath adopted a defensive gameplan which frustrated Dublin on both occasions initially. Last Sunday, though, Dublin ruthlessly punished Westmeath.

“We were completely outclassed," Cribbin admitted. "My gut feeling and heart before it was that the only hope you would have of beating Dublin is to lock down the show completely to try not to let the goals in.

“But people didn't want to see that, our players didn't want to see that. They felt they could have a go at them, but we were just outclassed.

“We just weren't picking up the breaking balls either. We talked so much about how much we needed to win the breaking ball, but we just couldn't win it.”

Dublin manager Gavin was content with how his players cruised to victory.

“You'd have to be satisfied with the scores that we got and defensively how well we played," Gavin remarked. “We had an excellent, challenging game against Carlow and we were just building up from that.

“It was probably tough on Westmeath as well, they've come through three games in three weeks, back to back. I'm sure fatigue played a part and they've lost some exceptional players as well. Any team when that happens - it can hurt you.

“We just focused on getting our gameplan right and we just traded off that preparation and we got that performance.”

Cribbin reflected on a disappointing display: "We didn't go out to lose the game - we wanted to go and see where we are at".

"Our approach was the difference in the scoreline compared to the last two years. The only way we would handle them - and to be honest I probably knew it in my heart and soul before the game - we needed a minimum of 11 guys back, play the zonal defence and two sweepers.

"But unless you have machines that can get up and down the pitch, you are not going to beat them. You might hold them back to keep the score down."


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