Dublin overcame a spirited challenge from Westmeath at the DCU Sportsgrounds on Sunday to make it three wins on the bounce in Division One of the Lidl National Football League.
Despite the best efforts of Westmeath attacker Anna Jones, the experience of Clann Mhuire’s Carla Rowe and St Brigid’s Noelle Healy helped the Sky Blues to maintain their push for a semi-final spot.
Dublin stay hot on the heels of unbeaten Galway and Donegal with their third win on the bounce, but they were made to fight hard for it by Sean Finnegan’s spirited side.
“To be honest, when you play in those conditions it obviously changes the way you can view things. There was a lot of good, battling qualities from the players,” said manager Mick Bohan of the performance as he gave pitch time to Sinead Goldrick for the first time this season.
“Obviously today, that spirit just to fight for dirty ball was a key element, so we’re happy to get through it. A lot of girls got game time again, which is obviously our objective.
“The Sinead Goldricks and the Sinead Ahernes need to play. They can’t just come back on the stage and play a certain level without game time. That’s Goldie’s first 15 or 20 minutes of football this year.
“It’s a thin line between trying to give people game time and at the same time making sure the players that you certainly know are going to be involved, are going to get game time and they’re going to be sharp.”
Dublin broke the deadlock through an Eabha Rutledge point, before the impressive Jones responded at the opposite end. Amidst a torrential downpour at the St Clare’s venue, Dublin slowly settled into their customary attacking stride.
After Rowe’s close-range free edged them back in front, Aoife Kane split the posts in effortless style on the right-wing. She subsequently added a brace of points to her personal tally, including a sublime effort from play on the stroke of 20 minutes.
She dovetailed effectively with Whyte throughout the opening period and her Clann Mhuire compatriot raised another white flag to give Dublin a 0-6 to 0-1 interval cushion.
Having welcomed back Healy to the starting line-up for this contest – a precursor to the summer meeting between the two counties in the Leinster Championship – Bohan subsequently introduced Sinead Goldrick as one of four half-time substitutions.
Even though Siobhan Killeen’s point was cancelled out by the industrious Jones, Dublin grabbed the opening goal of the game on 41 minutes. Healy’s speculative shot looked set to float over the crossbar, only to ultimately drift beyond the reach of stranded Westmeath goalkeeper Karen Walsh.
While this offered Dublin a seemingly unassailable eight-point buffer, a gallant Westmeath persevered with their challenge. Leanne Slevin found the range on the third-quarter mark, and with Metropolitan midfielder Olwen Carey in the sin-bin, Westmeath secured a three-pointer of their own.
With just nine remaining, Jones bravely palmed beyond the reach of Dublin’s replacement ’keeper Rachel Fleming.
This was as close as the Lake County came to staging a comeback, however, and a stoppage-time point by 2018 Footballer of the Year Sinead Aherne eased Dublin over the line.