Byrne leads way as Dessie’s Dub cubs cut loose in a Lakepoint Park storm
Whem Dessie Farrell spied the ghastly weather conditions in Mullingar last night, part of him might have feared the worst.
As it transpired, there was no need to worry. The chasm in class between his Dublin U21s, chasing a Leinster four-in-a-row, and their Westmeath hosts was palpable.
It was evident in the final scoreline - a 14-point margin that admittedly soared into double-digits as Westmeath's resistance folded in the home straight and the Dubs added 1-5 in the space of five minutes.
But it was also evident in their cohesion and support play when this was still a contest during the first half.
Na Fianna's Aaron Byrne was the executioner in chief, his 58th minute goal bringing his personal tally to 2-3 from play.
Con O'Callaghan, fresh from his latest hurling heroics with Cuala, was denied an early goal by Kevin Fagan's save but still finished with 0-5 (4f) before departing late on.
Their reward is a semi-final home date with Longford on March 22.
Strangely, given the final lopsided scoreline, Westmeath started in sprightly fashion with the first two points.
But then Cian Murphy kickstarted the visitors with a fisted point as they rattled off 1-3 in a three-minute blitzkrieg. Byrne struck after 11 minutes, bursting through the middle before his first effort was blocked by Fagan … but the rebound at the feet of Dublin's razor-sharp No 14 who finished first-time to the net.
Byrne was the star turn of that first half, clipping 1-2 whereas O'Callaghan had something of a mixed bag: by the 20th minute he had already offloaded six shots for a return of just 0-1 from play.
In truth, the hosts were blessed that Dublin didn't add another couple of goals before half-time, with Sean Bugler rattling the crossbar and O'Reilly - teed up by O'Callaghan - skewing low and wide.
As the weather deteriorated on the restart, so did Dublin's fluency to begin with. Yet, even as Westmeath boss John Keane emptied his bench, there was no sign of a revival.
Then the roof caved in during the dying minutes as O'Callaghan struck a brace of frees to bring his tally to 0-5; Byrne iced the cake with his second goal; and senior squad member Colm Basquel landed a brace off the bench.
Scorers - Dublin: A Byrne 2-3, C O'Callaghan 0-5 (4f), C Basquel 0-2, C Murphy, G O'Reilly, E Murchan, C Sallier 0-1 each. Westmeath: D Giles 0-2 (1f), D Conway, R O'Toole, N Mitchell (f), C Shanley 0-1 each.
Dublin: E Comerford; D Byrne, S McMahon, S Clayton; C Murphy, C O'Shea, E Murchan; B Howard, A Foley; T Fox, S Bugler, G O'Reilly; A Byrne, C O'Callaghan, S Smith. Subs: C Basquel for Bugler (ht), C Sallier for Smith (39), D Gavin for O'Reilly (48), A Elliott for Fox (57), D McIllgorm for O'Callaghan (60).
Westmeath: K Fagan; M Darling, R Wallace, P Murray; D Conway, M Kelly, B Sayeh; N Mitchell, L O'Reilly; E O'Brien, S Duncan, J Kearney; R O'Toole, S Clavin, D Giles. Subs: I McGovern for Conway (ht), C Shanley for O'Brien (ht), G Murray for Kearney (39), C Dillon for Kelly (39), T Adamson for O'Toole (51), R Curley for Clavin (51).
Wides: Dublin 11 (8+3); Westmeath 5 (3+2).
Yellow: Dublin 0; Westmeath 3 (Kearney 17, Conway 19, Murray 56).
Ref: D Moore (Laois).
Att: 800 (estimated).
Man of the Match: Aaron Byrne (Dublin).
EirGrid Leinster U21 FC: Dublin 2-14 Westmeath 0-6