By Daragh Ó Conchúir at Croke Park
WESTMEATH made their first visit to Croke Park one to remember as they claimed their maiden Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior title.
In a strange game, both sides endured long scoring droughts, while Dublin certainly had the greater share of the possession over the hour.
The spoils go to the team that scores the most however and though they probably held the upper hand for little more than a quarter of an hour, they were ruthless with their scoring opportunities.
They took a little while to settle and fell behind to two pointed frees inside four minutes by Aoife Bugler.
They continued to look more assured but failed to translate time on the ball into numbers on the scoreboard and paid the price as their opponents hit 1-8 without replay before the interval.
Sheila McGrath and Dinah Loughlin (free) brought them level and even when Hannah Core put them ahead at the end of the first quarter, it was probably against the run of play.
Johnny Greville’s crew were beginning to exert control by now however and had added two points when Denise McGrath drilled a low shot off the rain-slickened sod to the far corner for a goal that appeared to deflate Dublin completely.
McGrath put over her second point and Loughlin provided three more (one from play) to put the margin at nine at the break, 1-8 to 0-2.
Shane Plowman made two substitutions at half time and Dublin contested much better throughout the field throughout the entire latter period. This was best illustrated by the increase in aerial possession, with Róisín Baker, sub Sinéad Wylde and captain Emer Keenan displaying their high-catching prowess.
Baker gave them a real boost with a goal 37 seconds after the restart. Bugler slotted a brace of points but the return was not commensurate with the number of incursions inside Westmeath’s 45.
Credit for that should go to the defensive efforts of Edel McCormack and Fiona Leavy, while Caoimhe McCrossan was in player-of-the-match form.
Pamela Greville finally registered Westmeath’s first score of the second half in the 55th minute and though Dublin kept pouring forward, creating a couple of half-chances for goals, they had left themselves too much of a mountain to climb.
SCORERS FOR WESTMEATH: D Loughlin 0-4(2fs), D McGrath 1-0; S McGrath, H Core 0-2 each; P Grevill, A Higgins 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR DUBLIN: A Bugler 0-5(3fs, 1 45); R Baker 1-1
WESTMEATH: F Keating, S King, E McCormack, J McLoughlin, E Finn, F Leavy, L Doherty, J McCormack, M McCormack, C Mccrossan, D McGrath, D Loughlin, H Core, P Greville, S McGrath. Sub: A Higgins for D McGrath (51), M Scally for M McCormack (58)
DUBLIN: A Spillane, R MacLoughlin, N Gleeson, C Buchanan, G Free, D Johnstone, E Barron, G Power, R Drohan, A ooley, R Baker, E Twomey, L Quinn, A Bugler, E Keenan. Subs: S Nolan for Power (ht), S Wylde for Quinn (ht), C Carolan for Twomey (49), E O’Riordan for Gleeson (56)
REFEREE: P McDonald (Cavan)