Dublin had to work hard to dispose of a plucky Westmeath challenge in the third round robin tie of the Leinster senior hurling championship in slippery underfoot conditions in Mullingar.

Clearly stung by their hammering in Salthill eight days earlier, Westmeath hurled with spirit and no little skill in the first half.

The reliable Donal Burke nudged Dublin ahead from a sixth-minute free before Niall O'Brien belatedly equalised some two minutes later, his side having already missed five chances in the opening exchanges.

When the men in blue led by 0-05 to 0-02 after 15 minutes, they looked set to dominate but the side under the tutelage of Joe Fortune, a man very familiar with all aspects of Dublin hurling, rallied and they went toe-to-toe with the red-hot favourites.

Nothing epitomised their spirit more than a superb solo point from their highly-rated full back Tommy Doyle in the 26th minute. Behind him, Noel Conaty was called into action to good effect on a couple of occasions. For their part, Westmeath never threatened to raise a green flag in the first half, during which they shot seven wides to their opponents’ three.

The referee got an amount of stick from both sides for some of his throw ball decisions, and free-takers Killian Doyle (who converted five frees in addition to scoring once from play) and Burke (whose six first half points were evenly split between frees and open play) were kept busy.

It was 0-11 apiece at the end of normal time, with Danny Sutcliffe opening his account in injury-time to nudge the Metropolitans ahead by 0-12 to 0-11 at the interval. They were somewhat fortunate to be in front at that stage.

Half-time sub Fergal Whiteley pointed just 17 seconds after the resumption of play.

Killian Doyle’s accuracy from placed balls kept the home side in touch, but Mattie Kenny’s troops were able to get their scores a little easier than their hosts.

Riain McBride finished the game with six points from play, but a number of them were scored in acres of space. Such was Tommy Doyle’s supremacy over Ronan Hayes that the Kilmacud Crokes man, who had excelled for his club against Westmeath champions Raharney at the same venue last year, was replaced.

Westmeath trailed by 0-21 to 0-15 when Doyle was very narrowly wide from a goal chance in the 55th minute.

However, McBride pointed directly from the puck-out, a regular trend throughout the game. A Lake County goal did arrive on the hour mark when a delivery by sub Ciaran Doyle - a twin brother of Killian - was only batted out by Seán Brennan and O’Brien was on hand to boot the sliotar to the net.

They now trailed by just three points, 0-22 to 1-16, but they were unable to build on the goal and Dublin added five unanswered points in the closing stages, three of them from Burke frees, to emerge as reasonably comfortable winners.

Dublin: S Brennan; J Madden (0-02), E O’Donnell, C O’Callaghan (0-01); D Ryan, P Smyth, S Barrett; C Burke (0-01), C Crummey (0-03); D Burke (0-11, 0-07fs), R McBride (0-06), D Sutcliffe (0-01); P Crummey, R.Hayes, A Mellett.

Subs: F Whitely (0-02) for P Crummey (H/T), E Dillon for Hayes (53), L Rushe for Mellett (58), D Gray for Barrett (59), M Schutte for Rushe (inj., 65).

Westmeath: N Conaty; C Shaw, T Doyle (0-01), D Egerton; A Craig, R Greville, J Galvin; J Boyle, C Boyle; K Regan (0-01), D McNicholas, N Mitchell; N O’Brien (1-03), K Doyle (0-11, 0-10fs), D Glennon.

Subs: C Doyle for McNicholas (H/T), O McCabe for Regan (53) , D Clinton for O’Brien (65), J Bermingham for Egerton (70 +2).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).