Westmeath claimed some early silverware for 2019 by seeing off Dublin in tonight’s O’Byrne Cup final at Parnell Park.
Ger Egan’s 57th minute goal helped ensure victory for Jack Cooney’s charges after they’d pulled away from their capital counterparts in this decider’s third quarter, having led by the minimum (0-5 to 0-4) at half-time.
After a slow burner start, Paul Clarke’s experimental Dubs outfit moved 0-2 to 0-1 in front on 18 minutes thanks to the scores of Sean Bulger and Aaron Byrne outweighing Egan’s opener for the visitors seven minutes in.
The victors got motoring shortly afterwards as Kieran Martin, Ronan O’Toole and Tommy McDaniel raised consecutive white flags to convert their team’s initial dominant spell.
Dublin's Stephen Smith and Egan traded scores either side of the half hour mark prior to Byrne trimming the difference down to one on the interval’s eve.
Westmeath's Killian Daly celebrates with the O'Byrne Cup. ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry.
A brace from the excellent Egan, who finished with 1-5, provided Westmeath with the perfect restart and O’Toole’s neat point from a tight angle had it at double scores with 40 minutes on the clock.
Conor McHugh and Bugler got the Dubs up and running again with singles either side of sub McDaniel shooting over at the far end, but the game was evidently slipping away from the Metropolitans once Egan buried in his own rebound much to the delight of the maroon contingent at Parnell Park.
Byrne and McHugh pulled back scores for the trailers, and Bulger did likewise, but Ger Leech’s superb effort was enough to cap off the five-point victory, as the Lake County marked its first triumph in this competition since 1988.
Westmeath - E Carberry; K Daly, R Wallace, B Sayeh; J Dolan, N Mulligan, N O’Reilly; S Flanagan, S Duncan; D Lynch, C McCormack, G Egan (1-5, 0-1f); R O’Toole (0-2), K Martin (0-1), J Halligan. Subs: T McDaniel (0-3) for C McCormack, G Leech (0-1) for J Halligan, C Slevin for S Flanagan, J Maxwell for T McDaniel, N Cully for R O’Toole.
Dublin - A Bunyan; N Doran, S McMahon, C Smith; A McGowan, C Mullally, R McDaid; J Hazley, C Howley; R Basquel, A Byrne (0-3), S Bugler (0-3); S Smith (0-1f), C Pearson, O Lynch. Subs: C Basquel for C Pearson, C McHugh (0-3, 2f) for O Lynch, T Lahiff for J Hazley, S Boland for R Basquel, D Monaghan for A McGowan, C Diamond for S Smith, L Galvin for C Howley, L Flatman for N Doran, J Hazley for A Byrne.
Referee - D Hickey.