Kevin O’Brien reports from Parnell Park
WESTMEATH HAVE STARTED life under Jack Cooney by lifting the O’Byrne Cup for the first time since 1988, beating a developmental Dublin outfit in tonight’s final.
Ger Egan gave a masterclass in attack for the visitors and scored 1-5, 1-4 from play, in their deserved five-point win. Dublin couldn’t live with Egan’s pace and power and he was arguably the main difference between the teams.
Westmeath won’t be getting too excited with this victory considering it’s effectively Dublin’s third-string outfit, but the Sky Blues defeated a Meath team last weekend that contained seven or eight of Andy McEntee’s regulars.
Some early season silverware will be a boost to Westmeath, who were beaten in last year’s final by Meath. They’ll head for their Division 3 opener next weekend against Offaly in good spirits following this victory.
Ger Egan keeps on delivering for @westmeath_gaa tonight as he hits the net with a well taken goal. pic.twitter.com/Iqc5RjG9uu
— The GAA (@officialgaa) January 18, 2019
On a positive note for Dublin, Aaron Byrne posted three points from centre-forward and might be the youngster that significantly increases his playing time under Jim Gavin this season.
Gavin tends to keep his championship 15 fresh with one or two introductions per season, with Eoin Murchan and Brian Howard the 2018 inductees to the starting team.
Byrne, the U21 Footballer of the Year in 2017, has been on the fringes of the squad over the past couple of seasons but looks ready to make the breakthrough this year.
Dublin trailed by 0-5 to 0-4 at half-time and Paul Clarke called for two players with championship experience last summer – Conor McHugh and Colm Basquel. Raheny’s Sean McMahon, who has been tipped for a big career in blue, reverted to midfield from full-back.
But Westmeath defended well and held McHugh to just a point from play, while Egan did the damage at the far end.
Dublin started without UCD duo Cian O’Connor and Darren Gavin, who helped their college past CIT in the Sigerson Cup yesterday.
This was the first televised game with the experimental rules, but Central Council may decide tomorrow not to proceed with some of them for the Allianz Football League, with the handpass rule under serious threat.
Cooney’s Westmeath frequently dropped 12 or 13 men behind the ball, but when they turned it over they broke at pace.
Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO
Egan looked very lively up front and flashed over two points in the opening half. His second arrived after a terrific catch and run from Kieran Martin at midfield.
Dublin might blame the restriction on four consecutive handpasses for significantly hampering their forward play, but whatever it was they struggled for scores in the first period. They had just 0-4 on the board by the interval and only three from play.
Despite the introduction of Basquel and McHugh, Westmeath continued to dominate and Egan added three scores in the third quarter to leave them 0-11 to 0-6 ahead.
Then a piercing run from substitute Tommy McDaniel split the Dublin defence and he passed to Egan, who thundered a strike into the top corner.
That led Westmeath eight clear after 58 minutes. Dublin responded with scores from Byrne and a McHugh brace, but couldn’t find the goal they needed late on.
Scorers for Westmeath: Ger Egan 1-5 (0-1f), Tommy McDaniel 0-3, Ronan O’Toole 0-2, Kieran Martin 0-1, Ger Leech 0-1.
Scorers for Dublin: Aaron Byrne, Conor McHugh (0-2f) and Sean Bugler 0-3 each, Stephen Smith 0-1 (0-1f).
1. Kevin Fagan (Tubberclair)
4. Boidu Sayeh (Rosemount)
3. Ronan Wallace (Multyfarnham)
2. Killian Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks)
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6. James Dolan (Garrycastle)
9. Noel Mulligan (Athlone)
7. David Lynch (St. Malachys)
15. Sam Duncan (Milltownpass)
8. Sean Flanagan (St. Loman’s Mullingar)
10. Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass)
11. Callum McCormack (Maryland)
5. Noel O’Reilly (Milltownpass)
12. Joe Halligan (Milltown)
13. Ronan O Toole (St. Lomans Mullingar)
14. Kieran Martin (Maryland)
18. Tommy McDaniel (Castleknock) for McCormack (10)
21. Ger Leech (Coralstown/Kinnegad) for Halligan (51)
17. Conor Slevin (Tyrrellspass) for Flanagan (61)
20. James Maxwell (Coralstown/Kinnega) for McDaniels (70)
24. Ned Cully (St Mary’s Rochfortbridge) for O’Toole (72)
1. Andy Bunyan (Scoil Uí Chonaill)
2. Nathan Doran (Clontarf)
3. Seán McMahon (Raheny)
4. Ciarán Smith (Lucan Sarsfields)
24. Andrew McGowan (Kilmacud Crokes)
6. Conor Mullally (Cuala)
7. Robert McDaid (Ballyboden St-Enda’s)
22. Jack Hazley (St Sylvesters)
9. Cormac Howley (Round Towers Lusk)
10. Ryan Basquel (Ballyboden St-Enda’s)
11. Aaron Byrne (Na Fianna)
12. Seán Bugler (St Oliver Plunkett’s-Eoghan Ruadh)
15. Oisín Lynch (Fingallians)
13. Stephen Smith (Skerries Harps)
14. Callum Pearson (Kilmacud Crokes)
25. Conor McHugh (Na Fianna) for Lynch (ht)
17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for Pearson (ht)
23. Tom Lahiff (St Judes) for Hazley (ht)
18. Shane Boland (Castleknock) for Baquel (50)
26. Declan Monaghan (Clontarf) for McGowan (55)
19. Cormac Diamond (St Vincent’s) for Smith (61)
20. Liam Flatman (Kilmacud Crokes) for Doran (64)
21. Lorcan Galvin (St Vincent’s) for Howley (64)
Referee: David Hickey (Carlow)
DCU advanced into the third round of the Sigerson Cup tonight with a 1-16 to 0-14 win over IT Carlow.
The Dublin college led by 1-11 to 0-3 at the interval, with Mayo’s Brian Reape their goalscorer. IT Carlow fought back in the second-half and forced the issue, but DCU prevailed by five points.
Tonight’s team @DCUGAAAcademy vs @ITCarlowGAA @HigherEdGAA pic.twitter.com/y64pxlJvWy
— Gavin Cawley (@gavcawley) January 18, 2019
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