Donal Burke leads victory in Dublin as Mattie greets Kenny Westmeath

Dublin manager Mattie Kenny was “delighted with the win and the two points” from Mullingar as his unbeaten side had to work hard to complete a brave Westmeath challenge in slippery ground conditions.

Reliable Donal Burke gave Dublin the lead from a sixth-minute free-kick before Niall O’Brien equalized about two minutes later after his side had already struck five disappointing wides in the opening games.

The home side, guided by Joe Fortune, a man well versed in all aspects of Dublin hurling, faced the red-hot favorites in the first half and were unlucky to be trailing at the break (0-12 to 0- 11).

Nothing encapsulated her spirit more than a superb 26th-minute solo point from her esteemed full-back Tommy Doyle. Behind him, Noel Conaty was successfully used a few times. Top scorers Killian Doyle (five frees) and Donal Burke (three frees) each had six points in the first half.

Half-time substitute Fergal Whitley pointed just 17 seconds after play restarted. Killian Doyle’s accuracy on placed balls kept the home side in touch, but Mattie Kenny’s troops, particularly Riain McBride, found their points a little easier than their hosts.

Westmeath were trailing 0-21, 0-15 when Killian Doyle went very narrowly wide after a scoring opportunity in the 55th minute. A Lake County goal came on the hour when O’Brien was there to net the sliotar from close range.

They were now just three points behind (0:22 to 1:16) but couldn’t build on goal and Dublin added five unanswered points in the closing stages.

After the game, Kenny praised the Lake County challenge, saying, “Westmeath worked really hard in the first half and we knew there was going to be a little backlash from them. But in the second half our guys played a lot better and got more space and we coped better with the slippery conditions. This is always a difficult venue. Westmeath takes great pride in hurling people.”

His counterpart was generally pleased with his team’s efforts, but remains frustrated at their inability to take a large scalp.

“We knew Dublin had won their first two games. We were fully involved until about the 55th minute and had a chance to score towards the end that we didn’t take,” he said.

“I was very proud of the boys’ performance, but there comes a time when such performances are okay, but the boys yearn to take it to the next level.

“But hats off to Dublin, they had to finish the game and they did,” added Fortune.

Goalscorers – Dublin: D Burke 0-11 (7fs), R McBride 0-6, C Crummey 0-3, J Madden, F Whitely 0-2 each, C O’Callaghan, C Burke, D Sutcliffe each 0-1. Westmeath: K Doyle 0-11 (10fs), NO Brien 1-3, K Regan, T Doyle 0-1 each.

Dublin: S. Brennan 6; J Madden 7, E O’Donnell 6, C O’Callaghan 7; D Ryan 6, P Smyth 7, S Barrett 6; C. Burke 6, C. Crummey 8; D Burke 8, R McBride 8, D Sutcliffe 6; P Crummey 6, R Hayes 5, A Mellett 6. Subtitle: F Whitely 7 for P Crummey (ht), E Dillon 6 for Hayes (53), L Rushe 6 for Mellett (58), D Gray 6 for Barrett (59), M Schutte 6 for Rushe (inj., 65).

Westmeath: NConaty 7; C Shaw 6, T Doyle 8, D Egerton 7; A Craig 6, R Greville 7, J Galvin 6; J Boyle 6, C Boyle 6; K Regan 6, D McNicholas 5, N Mitchell 6; N O’Brien 7, K Doyle 8, D Glennon 6. Subtitle: C Doyle 6 for McNicholas (ht), O McCabe 6 for Regan (53), D Clinton 6 for O’Brien (65), J Bermingham n/r for Egerton (70 +2).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny). Donal Burke leads victory in Dublin as Mattie greets Kenny Westmeath

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