Kenny content as Dublin reign begins

by Cóilín Duffy

DUBLIN’S senior hurlers began their Walsh Cup 2020 campaign on a strong note, delivering an eight-point win over Westmeath at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar on Sunday afternoon last.

Manager Mattie Kenny was pretty pleased with his side’s performance, fielding a largely experimental side, handing Dublin Senior debuts to five players.

Among the newcomers was Belfast native Lorcan McMullan who put in an incredible shift over the 70 minutes plus, and scored three points from play for the Metropolitans from midfield.

McMullan, who has played for Kilmacud Crokes in recent years, really grasped his chance with aplomb.

The returning Donal Burke also made a strong contribution, with the Na Fianna clubman having missed out on the 2019 championship.

Cuala’s Mark Schutte also made a welcome return after a three-year lay-off through a mix of being involved with the Dublin footballers and also injury in the past 12 months.

“Mark did really well,” Kenny said after the game.

“He got 70 minutes under his belt. Mark was anxious to get out there today and get some game time.

“Over the past few seasons he’s had a number of injuries and a number of issues that were unfortunate.

“He’s back training away now and he’s getting strong and fitter, and his hurling will be coming on with every game and every training session. We are hopeful that Mark will have a really good season for us next year.”

It was Westmeath who got off to the stronger start in this contest, as the hosts led by by 0-5 to 0-2 after nine minutes, with Niall Mitchell and Eoin Price hitting two points each, before Darragh Clinton ensured a three-point lead, after converting a free.

Dublin levelled the tie by the 13th minute, following scores from Kilmacud Crokes clubman Oisín O’Rorke (2) and Na Fianna’s Burke.

Kenny’s charges kept up the momentum and claimed a lead they wouldn’t relinquish after Aidan Mellett grabbed the only goal of the game a minute later.

The Ballyboden St Enda’s clubman finished to the net after some great support play.

These scores came in a brilliant spell for the visitors, where they grabbed 1-7 unanswered, with Schutte, Thomas Davis clubman Davy Keogh, McMullan and Burke all adding fine points, to ensure a seven-point lead.

That advantage was extended to double scores at the break, as O’Rorke, Burke and McMullan continued to add scores, to ensure a 1-15 to 0-9 advantage.

Westmeath battled hard on the restart, with the likes of half-time substitute Derek McNicholas and Price taking scores, but the 53rd minute dismissal of Joe Boyle on a second yellow card proved costly.

Dublin continued to register some fine scores after this, with Davy Keogh landing a fine sideline cut, and Donal Burke and Mark Schutte also on target on the way to a richly deserved victory.

Boss Kenny was, overall, pleased with his sides display.

“This time of the year is about the pre-season. A lot of the lads are doing heavy gym programmes, and a little bit of running.

“Obviously their hurling would be a little bit off at this time of the year. One thing is always constant, and that’s guys attitude and work-rate.

“The guys put in a good shift out there today, and I suppose that’s all we can ask of them.

“It’s like a training session, you come down and work hard for 70 minutes. In fairness to them they put some nice passages of play together, and got some nice scores, and they did pretty well.”

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