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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019

Dublin's movement in attack, Westmeath's use of one sweeper and the task facing Kildare

We run through 5 talking points after Dublin’s 4-29 to 0-10 victory over Westmeath in the Leinster semi-final

1. Dublin’s movement in attack

IT may not count for much given they were facing Division 4 opposition, but this was by far Dublin’s best display in 2017. They appeared a little leggy during the league, getting by at times on their know-how and experience.

Eoghan O’Gara celebrates scoring a goal with Paul Mannion Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Dublin looked fit and powerful today and ran up their highest ever score in the Jim Gavin-era. The accuracy of their shooting was remarkable, typified by the excellent Paul Mannion who shot the lights out with an eight-point haul.

Niall Scully pushed up from defence to occupy Westmeath’s sweeper and Dublin produced some very clever movement in attack to scythe through at will. Dean Rock was clinical from dead balls and chipped in with a goal, while Con O’Callaghan enjoyed a bright start before fading when he was switched to wing-forward.

Eoghan O’Gara, Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon and Shane Carthy arrived off the bench to inflict further pain on their wounded opponents, contributing 2-5 between them in the second-half.

Frank Boyle dejected after the game Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

2. Westmeath paid the price for only using one sweeper

In their last two Leinster finals, Westmeath set-up far more defensively and were well in the games at half-time. Trailing by 13 at half-time in Croke Park today, if they had decided to pack their bags and make a break for home it wouldn’t have matter much such was the one-sided nature of this game.

Dublin pushed right up on Darren Quinn’s kickouts and forced him to go long, where Westmeath were crucified. They won just four of their 17 restarts in the opening-half and it meant Dublin had an endless supply of ball to run at the Lake County.

Such is the riches of attacking talent available to Gavin, a team like Westmeath needs a better defensive structure if they’re to get anywhere near to a single digit defeat. They also needed to play with more intensity and aggression when they didn’t have the ball.

In fairness to Tom Cribbin, Dublin posted 2-5 after the 67th minute when Westmeath lost Noel Mulligan to a black card (they had no subs left so he was effectively sent-off).

Tom Cribbin Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

3. B championship talk

Any time a lower tiered county falls to a heavy defeat to one of the big guns, the narrative inevitably moves on to talk of championship restructures and an All-Ireland ‘B’ championship.

“(I) definitely feel the championship should be restructured,” Cribbin said after the game.

“People say weaker counties don’t want to play in another competition, I think the winner, if there was a second tier competition, I think the winners should be at some stage introduced that year to the senior competition.

“That would give 16 counties an unbelievable bonus to get on the big stage, would have won a lot of games in the championship and helped them get there. Because the jump from playing at a certain level and standard and then you meet a team like Dublin or Tyrone or Kerry, it’s a massive, massive jump.”

Change in the GAA moves at such a slow pace that the removal of the provincial championships doesn’t look to be coming any time soon. The introduction of a Super 8 could well be the first step down the road of a two-tiered championship, but it remains to be seen.

Niall Scully with Mark McCallon, Frank Boyle and Callum McCormack Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

4. Westmeath must regroup

Tom Cribbin must pick his players off the floor in time for their next qualifier on 8 July where they could face Carlow, Wexford and the winners of Offaly/Cavan and Armagh/Fermanagh.

It’s a difficult task for Cribbin, whose team has been in championship action for the last three weekends. Their initial aim will be to get the minds and bodies right in time for a qualifier game in two weeks. Win that game and making the last eight is a realistic aim.

The manner of their response will tell an awful lot about the character of this team.

5. Daunting task facing Kildare

No doubt Cian O’Neill was in HQ today to witness Dublin impressive display. After their win over Meath last weekend, the Lilywhites were being talking up as a side who could compete with Dublin in the Leinster final.

Kildare have a fine team of athletes and they’ll likely have a better structure to their defence, but it’s still a daunting challenge for O’Neill’s young group of players on 16 July.

The manner of today’s defeat means Westmeath will limp into the qualifiers and the priority for Kildare is avoiding a similar moral-sapping defeat. They must keep things tight at the back and take their chances at the far end. Easier said that done.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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