Had this been a boxing match, referee Conor Lane would surely have felt compelled to stop it to save Westmeath from further punishment.
As it was, even die hard Dublin fans, while basking in their side’s dominance in their 4-29 to 0-10 landslide victory at Croke Park, must have felt some sympathy for Westmeath, for this was a hammering in every sense of the word.
One can only guess what Kildare made of it all, with the Lilywhites all that now stands between Jim Gavin’s Dubs and a seventh consecutive Leinster title when the sides meet in the final on 16 July.
Westmeath had started well and were level at 0-4 to 0-4 after 13 minutes, but Dublin took off from there and didn’t look back. Paul Mannion fired eight points from play for the back-to-back All-Ireland champions while there were goals from Dean Rock, Eoghan O’Gara, Ciaran Kilkenny and Kevin McManamon.
Dublin led by 11 points at half-time, but like the champions they are showed no signs of easing to the finishing line as they rammed home their authority in the second half to send out message loud and clear to their All Ireland rivals.
While there may have been little controversy during the game, there was afterwards with Gavin, his backroom staff and his panel refusing to give one-on-one interviews to RTE and Sky Sports.
The reason given was the broadcasters’ coverage of Diarmuid Connolly’s push on linesman Ciaran Branagan earlier this month, which resulted in the player being given a 12-week ban.
“What concerned me was the way I suppose his good name was attacked before we even saw the referee’s report,” Gavin told FM 104.
“We had the national broadcaster in their post-match review – both Pat Spillane and Colm O’Rourke – but particularly Pat – read out a predetermined statement.
“We saw on Sky Sports the rulebook being read out against him. Supporters come to me and ask me ‘what’s going on?’ And ‘why is this unbalance happening?’ And I’m really struggling to give them a balanced and proportionate answer.
“It was my decision to pursue with the CHC (Central Hearings Committee), to get their opinion on it, and we’ve received advice from senior counsel that if this went to arbitration the case wouldn’t hold.
“But Diarmuid didn’t want that to happen. He just wanted to move on, and in the best interest of the team, that’s what he decided to do.
“Within 24 hours, even before the referees report was signed off, there was I suppose, not a media campaign, but it got a lot of traction in the media, and as I said I think his good name was, more importantly, the right that he has as an individual in the republic, I think his good name was certainly attacked. That’s for sure.”
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-5 (0-2 45, 0-3f), Paul Mannion 0-8, Ciaran Kilkenny 1-3, Kevin McManamon 1-1, Eoghan O’Gara 1-0, Con O’Callaghan 0-3, Paddy Andrews 0-2, Bernard Brogan 0-2 (0-1f), Bryan Fenton 0-2, Shane Carthy 0-2, Jack McCaffrey 0-1.
Scorers for Westmeath: John Heslin 0-4 (0-2f), Kieran Martin 0-3, John Egan 0-2, Ger Egan 0-1.
Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Cian O’Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons, Darren Daly; Eric Lowndes, Jonny Cooper, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan, Niall Scully; Dean Rock, Paddy Andrews, Paul Mannion. Subs: Eoghan O’Gara for Andrews h/t, Shane Carthy for Cooper 44, David Byrne for Fitzsimons 44, Bernard Brogan for Rock 47, Kevin McManamon for Scully 47, Brian Howard for O’Callaghan 61.
Westmeath: Darren Quinn; Jamie Gonoud, Kevin Maguire, Frank Boyle; David Lynch, Killian Daly, James Dolan; Ger Egan, Alan Gaughan; John Egan, Paul Sharry, Callum McCormack; Mark McCallon, Kieran Martin, John Heslin. Subs: Noel Mulligan for Gaughan h/t, Kelvin Reilly for McCormack 49, Cormac Boyle for Daly 50, Shane Corcoran for J Egan 53, Denis Glennon for Sharry 57, Alan Stone for Lynch 65. Mulligan black card 67.