Tuesday 20 March 2018

Gavin's men to find their way

Dubs must quell Heslin's influence in Leinster semi

JIM GAVIN is too polished a media performer to admit it but he would have learned next to nothing from the unmerciful hiding his team dished out to Laois in the quarter-final.

Such was the O'Moore men's ineptitude, very few Dublin players were removed from their comfort zone for any prolonged period although the attitude and application was spot on.

Ciarán Kilkenny and Philly Ryan looked sharp in attack and Jack McCaffrey exploded into life a couple of times from deep but there was also a strong performance from Gerry Seaver from the bench, suggesting half-forward could well be his most productive posting.

Emmet Ó Conghaile was the dominant midfielder on show while Gary Sweeney made the Dublin attack purr when he got an inch of room to dart into.

For their part, Westmeath will present a far sterner challenge and there is belief within the county that this group could mount a provincial challenge.

They were comprehensive - if not overwhelmingly impressive - victors over Carlow last time out but it should be noted that they led by only a point at half-time and were let off the hook on a number of occasions by an unusually errant freetaking exhibition by Darragh O'Brien.

That said, John Heslin - quickly becoming the saviour of Westmeath football - had a massive game, particularly after moving to midfield, although he is again selected to start at full-forward tonight.

Seánie Daly and Calum McCormack are two forwards brimming with promise and if Westmeath do spend a spell with all three inside, it will take a stellar Dublin defensive effort or a complete dominance of midfield to stop them from scoring.

Most likely though, Heslin will spend at least some of tonight in midfield, a jaunt which is easily facilitated by virtue of the fact that he is no less prolific when manning the middle.

Dublin's midfield has been in a state of flux over their first two matches this year, with no less than five different players tried there over their two hours of football thus far.

If they can keep that sector even, keep Heslin out of the game and get half decent ball to Kilkenny, Ryan and Sweeney, another Leinster final beckons.

Dublin named an unchanged team last night - meaning Harry Dawson, injured against Laois, has been named at full-forward.

DUBLIN: JB Carty; J Smith, K O'Brien, M Concarr; J Kelly, L Fletcher, J McCaffrey; E ó Conghaile, C Walsh; C Reddin, G Sweeney, M Schutte; C Kilkenny, H Dawson, P Ryan.

WESTMEATH: E Carbery; K Sheridan, D Gavin, S Gilmore; D Malynn, B Moran, K Maguire; T English, A Stone; G Egan, K Reilly, J Gonoud; S Daly, J Heslin, C McCormack.

ODDS: Dublin 1/4, Draw 8/1, Westmeath 4/1


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