Dublin brush aside Westmeath challenge

All-Ireland champions, Dublin, recorded a routine victory over Westmeath to kick-start their championship campaign in Portlaoise on Saturday evening. 

As a result of this year’s football championship having no ‘backdoor’ route for the first time in 20 years, there is little room for error amongst the country’s best. 

Dessie Farrell’s side looked comfortable throughout this one-sided clash, showcasing their squad depth and experience in an overall routine victory by 11 points. 

Ciaran Kilkenny was as influential as ever throughout, kicking some pristine scores and carrying out his defensive duties along the way, with gusto. 

Sean Bugler, who made his championship debut under Jim Gavin only a year ago, also rose to the occasion. 

Dublin clinched the opening three scores of the match, with Bugler kicking a superb point with his left foot from 35 metres out, to give his side an early cushion. 

Westmeath then replied with two scores of their own. Corner-forward, Luke Loughlin, kicked his side’s second score in the ninth minute from an acute angle. This would be Westmeath’s last score for ten minutes, with Dublin pulling away with five successive scores. 

The Dublin forwards seemed to have so much time in the Westmeath half of the field, and when Niall Scully put seven points between the sides on the 20-minute mark, it looked a long way back for Westmeath. 

Centre half-forward, Ronan O’Toole, got Westmeath’s third score of the game from an awkward angle, with fellow-midfielder, Ray Connellan, scoring an early contender for point of the season as the first half drew to a close.  

The Dubs went through the second half motions with quite some ease. As a fighting Westmeath team began to tire the likes of Brian Fenton and Kilkenny produced some slick integrated football and pulled off some great kick-passing and long-range point taking. 

Connellan got the last score of the game on 67 minutes, with Dublin running out victorious on an impressive score line of 0-22 to 0-11. 

Dublin now move onto the Leinster Semi-Final next weekend, when they take on Laois in Croke Park. Laois, who overcame Longford on Sunday, will look to pose a threat to Dublin’s championship hopes, but it is hard to look past the Dubs making it to their 10th Leinster final in a row.