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Action from the Dublin vs. Westmeath match on Saturday. Photo by: Sportsfile

GAA Digest: Tough Dubs annihilate Westmeath, big hurling win for Clare and more

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Action from the Dublin vs. Westmeath match on Saturday. Photo by: Sportsfile

Tough Dubs annihilate Westmeath

Dublin are still the form team in the country in terms of results, but Saturday night’s facile win over Westmeath at Croke Park on their Leinster Championship bow for the season told them little or nothing about their current standing or their prospects for the summer ahead.

It even prompted the opposition manager Pat Flanagan to call for a radical overhaul of the championship to ensure that Dublin meet their match in future years and his team are spared the ignominy of a Croker drubbing.

The history books will record that Dublin beat the Lakes County by a whopping 1-22 to 0-9, but the reality on the day was even worse for Westmeath as the Dubs raced into a 0-8 to no score lead after 22 minutes and led 0-12 to 0-4 at halftime.

With Paddy Andrews and Paul Flynn particularly impressive, they added a second half goal from Andrews to seven Bernard Brogan points to secure the 16 point victory in front of 33,008 spectators.

Kildare are next up for the Dubs, and for youngster Jonny Cooper, there is work to be done before the semi final next month.

The 2010 All-Ireland under-21 star insisted after the Westmeath win, “It went okay. Obviously we can improve in certain areas. I suppose the winning margin in the end was a positive thing.

 “Westmeath were coming in with a Championship game under their belts and it was always going to be tough, the way they play the game.”

Boss Jim Gavin had particular praise for man of the match Andrews. 

“Paddy is a quality player, always was. I had him at underage as well and he was always a talented player,” Gavin said.

“He is working very hard at his game and he knows as well as any of the Dublin players they are only as good as his last game. He has been very diligent so far and I’m sure he will continue to do that.”

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton said he was not surprised with the win. 

“We performed throughout the League so, I mean, it’s a game at the end of the day,” he said.

“Championship or league it is still a game you want to win and you prepare exactly the same so you shouldn’t have any difference in the outcome.”

Westmeath manager Pat Flanagan believes the gulf between the tops sides like Dublin and the rest is now alarming. 

“We were just blown away by the sheer power, speed and strength of Dublin. Some of the scores they kicked were excellent as well. It’s totally an eye opener for us,” he said.

“Personally I’m really getting worried about the gulf that’s starting to develop. There seems to be a huge gulf developing between Division 1 and 2 teams.

“Or further down the line we saw last week Kerry and Cork. We played Carlow a couple weeks ago and I saw the dejection on the faces of the Carlow boys and I see it there in with us now.

“Maybe we should start revisiting how the championship is run. Had we won that game against Dublin, we’d have had to play Kildare in the next game and so on.

“Maybe we should start having a look at maybe two championships running simultaneously together. You need to get players competing or otherwise they’re going to go away.

Flanagan at least has some answers to put forward as to how the likes of Westmeath can find a more level playing field.

“I’d develop a second meaningful championship. We go into qualifiers now and let’s be totally honest, the pressure is going to be on players to go back to clubs, the pressure is going to be on players to go to America,” Flanagan said.

“We need a meaningful competition that’s going to give these guys an opportunity to progress. They deserve better.”

Big Hurling Win for Clare 

The glory days may still be some time away, but Clare hurling fans finally got something to shout about in Thurles on Sunday as their team sent Waterford crashing out of the Munster Championship – their first win in the competition in five years.

Limerick, beaten in 2008 by the Banner, were the last side to go down to the Clare men in the provincial championship so the turnaround in fortunes was worth celebrating for manager Davy Fitzgerald and his players after their 2-20 to 0 1-15 win at Semple Stadium.

Young full-forward Darach Honan scored three points from play as Clare cruised into a semifinal meeting with Cork, and he took great delight in the manner of victory and the experience.

“It’s actually my first time getting a win in the Munster Championship. That meant a lot to us. A lot of the other lads on the team have been playing for two or three years and it’s our first time getting a win,” Honan said.

A resilient second half performance saw Clare turn a four point halftime deficit into a 12 point win, mainly thanks to hunger and work-rate according to Honan.

“I think we started winning our own puck-outs. It was more desire and aggression to win the puck-outs and get the breaks. That was the only thing that was lacking in the first half,” Honan said.

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