Dublin 2-13 Westmeath 0-06
Dublin won their tenth Leinster title in 11 years at Croke Park as a two-goal burst just after half-time broke the resistance of a dogged Westmeath side.
The Sky Blues only led by four points at the break but when Bernard Brogan palmed home in the 40th minute and Jack McCaffrey blasted home at the near post following the kickout, their grip on the Delaney Cup was never in doubt.
Westmeath set up to frustrate the reigning provincial champions in the first half and were largely successful in that strategy, Dublin kicking seven wides as they were forced to shoot from wide angles.
The Lakemen did commit men forward when in possession but were guilty of repeatedly dropping shots short as Dublin took a 0-08 to 0-04 lead into the interval.
The Dubs raised the tempo briefly in the second half, however, and Westmeath just couldn’t handle them.
The goals gave Dublin an 11-point lead and with Westmeath struggling to get out of their own half and scoring just 0-02 in the period, the game fizzled out to its inevitable conclusion.
John Heslin landed the opening score from a free in the second minute but that was the only time the 25/1 underdogs led in the match and points from Philly McMahon, James McCarthy and Michael Darragh Macauley eased Dublin into a 0-05 to 0-01 advantage by the 20th minute.
Shane Dempsey was often left alone up front, with semi-final heroes Heslin and Kieran Martin occasionally joining him, but a failure to secure possession from their own kickouts hampered Westmeath’s efforts and Dublin were able to put huge pressure on their outnumbered attackers when shooting.
The Dubs’ only sniff of a goal in the opening half was when Ciaran Kilkenny barged his way past two defenders – the Castleknock man’s rising shot with the outside of the boot just cleared the crossbar.
Kilkenny and Diarmuid Connolly - with 0-03 each from play, the only Dublin attackers to really shine - hit fine points to stretch the lead but Westmeath finished the half strongly with scores from Heslin and Martin, a typically barrelling effort from the endline, raising their spirits.
Dublin took a four-point lead into the interval but when they raised the tempo upon the restart, briefly, Westmeath just couldn’t handle them and dreams of a repeat of their sole Leinster success in 2004 quickly evaporated.
The Dubs pushed up on the visitors' kickouts, and Connolly lurked in space around the 40m line, finding space to dispatch probing passes and booming efforts on goal.
The Midlanders had barely made it out of their own half when Dublin struck their first goal in the 40th minute.
Kilkenny found Paul Flynn, whose handpass across goal was met by the fist of Bernard Brogan, who timed his arrival in the square perfectly to punch the ball into the net.
Westmeath needed to settle but right from the kickout, they lost possession. Jack McCaffrey, one of three Dublin backs to score, sent a rasping shot past Darren Quinn at the near post to raise a second green flag.
Much like their fellow county man Conor McGregor, an overnight winner in Las Vegas, the Dubs had landed a knockout blow.
Despite almost half an hour remaining on the clock, they were never going to let an 11-point lead slip against opposition set up to defend.
With Westmeath struggling to get out of their own half and scoring just 0-02 in the remainder, through Martin and Frank Boyle, the game quickly fizzled out as a contest.
Both sides emptied their benches as the intensity waned, Alan Brogan drawing a loud cheer from the fans on the Hill and marking his arrival with a point.
More worrying for Westmeath’s qualifier hopes was the sight of Heslin limping off after 61 minutes. They will hope the St Loman’s star’s injury isn’t serious.
Bernard Brogan and the excellent Kilkenny finished the scoring as Dublin cruised to their fifth Leinster title in a row by 13 points.
Manager Jim Gavin will doubtless be concerned at the quality of their shooting ahead of the All-Ireland quarter-finals though – they hit 16 wides in total despite the comfortable margin of victory.
Westmeath can take heart from a tenacious first-half display in their first Leinster final in 11 years and if they can recover psychologically from the second-half pasting could yet be a threat in the qualifiers.
Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, Rory O'Carroll, Philly McMahon (0-01); James McCarthy (0-01), Cian O'Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey (1-00); Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley (0-01); Paul Flynn, Ciaran Kilkenny (0-03), Diarmuid Connolly (0-03); Dean Rock (0-02f), Kevin McManamon, Bernard Brogan (1-01).
Subs: Michael Fitzsimons for Cooper (ht), Paddy Andrews for McManamon (47), Denis Bastick for Macauley (51), Alan Brogan (0-01) for Rock, John Small for McMahon (61), Tomás Brady for Connolly.
Westmeath: Darren Quinn; Killian Daly, Kevin Maguire, John Gilligan; Paddy Holloway, Kieran Martin (0-02), James Dolan; Denis Corroon, Frank Boyle (0-01); Ger Egan, Paul Sharry, Ray Connellan; David Lynch, John Heslin (0-03, 2f), Shane Dempsey.
Subs: Kieran Gavin for Dempsey (ht), Callum McCormack for Connellan (52), Dennis Glennon for Holloway (53), John Egan for Heslin (61), Jamie Gonoud for McCormack (64).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)