Brilliant Bennett sees Dubs past Westmeath
Dublin 2-17 - Westmeath 1-14
Two second-half goals from Chris Bennett helped Dublin to overcome Westmeath by in their Bord Gais Leinster Under 21 Hurling Championship semi-final at Parnell Park last night.
It was a far from complete display by the hosts who struggled for fluency in the early stages despite an early point from Seán Ó Riain.
Their sloppy start was punished by points from Niall Mitchell, Jack Galvin, Darragh Clinton and Ciaran Doyle as Westmeath impressed through the efforts of centre-back Liam Varley and Mitchell.
Dublin should well have netted in the 12th minute as Ó Riain cannoned a shot off the crossbar after fine approach play from Chris Bennett and that miss proved costly thirty seconds later as Doyle found the net from close range after some hesitancy in the home defence.
Bennett, Colm O'Neill and AJ Murphy trimmed Dublin's deficit as the half progressed but successive points from Clinton and Mitchell restored Westmeath's four point lead by the 20th minute.
While not quite at a critical stage, it was imperative that Dublin finish the half strongly to maintain their provincial ambitions and with Bennett and Murphy to the fore in attack, they managed to reel in their opponents with Cian Boland making an instant impression with a well-taken score within two minutes of his introduction.
The half finished with five successive Dublin scores as the hosts enjoyed a narrow one point (0-10 to 1-6) interval advantage.
After an other nervous resumption by Dublin, they were settled within ten minutes as Bennett raced clear from Alan cox with his sublime rising shot proving too powerful for Sean Maher in the Westmeath goal.
Bennett and Boland tagged on points to ensure the visitors remained at arm's length despite the excellence of Liam Varley and Doyle and they effectively confirmed their place in the final as Bennett put the finishing touches to a well-worked team move in the 49th minute.
Ó Riain and Boland added late points to put a flattering hue on the final scoreline.
Scorers - Dublin: C Bennett 2-6 (0-4f), AJ Murphy, C Boland 0-3 each, S Ó Riain 0-2, S Treacy (f), C O'Neill, P O'Dea 0-1 each. Westmeath: C Doyle 1-7 (0-5f, 0-1 '65'), D Clinton 0-3 (0-2f), N Mitchell 0-2 (0-1 sideline), J Galvin, W Casserly 0-1 each.
Dublin: J Treacy; E O'Donnell, J Madden, C Hendricken; M McCallion, C Mac Gabhann, P O'Dea; J Malone, J Bellew; E McHugh, AJ Murphy, S Treacy; C O'Neill, S O Riain, C Bennett. Subs: C Boland for McHugh (19), R McBride for McCallion (39), F Ó Riain Broin for O'Dea (41), S Gray for Murphy (46), B Bolger for Bellew (56),
Westmeath: S Maher; A Cox, C Shaw, M Heeney; J Rabbitte, L Varley, R Gillen; W Casserly, K Doyle; D Egerton, L Cassidy, N Mitchell; J Galvin, C Doyle, D Clinton. Subs: P Scally for Cassidy (half-time), D Giles for Cox (42).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Wexford)