Dublin 2-8. Westmeath 0-13
A 58th-minute point from substitute Cian Boland gave Dublin a narrow 2-8 to 0-13 semi-final victory over Westmeath at Mullingar.
The hosts made a real fight of it but, despite drawing level on a number of occasions, could never get in front and were made to pay right at the end.
Even though Dublin threatened to pull away a couple of times during the opening half-hour, the Lake men twice clawed back three-point deficits to deservedly go in level at the break, 0-9 to 1-6.
In a late change to their starting team, Dublin named Ballinteer St John’s clubman Donal Gormley at midfield in place of his clubmate Glen Whelan.
A Paul Winters free had the Dubs quickly up and running and the same player followed up with another converted free after top scorer Niall O’Brien had got the hosts on the scoreboard.
After points were swapped, county senior Colm Cronin pounced for a Dublin goal and that strike separated the sides after ten minutes, 1-3 to 0-3.
The Lake men kept plugging away and drew level but Winters pointed and Dublin full forward Aodhan Clabby drilled over an excellent 21st-minute point from the middle of the pitch to make it 1-5 to 0-6.
Caolan Conway made it a three-point game six minutes from the break. However, the hosts again refused to roll over and a run of three unanswered scores, including a late leveller from Robbie Greville, ensured them of parity at the short whistle.
As the tension mounted, there were no scores in the first ten minutes of the second half but Dublin substitute Boland put that right when he chipped in with the visitors’ second goal to make it 2-6 to 0-9.
A Winters free made it a four-point game but Westmeath came again with a run of two frees and a ’65’ from O’Brien to leave just a point between the sides as we passed the 50-minute mark…
Amazingly, O’Brien’s fourth score in a row – again from a free – had the sides level with seven minutes left.
Goalkeeper Conor Dooley came to Dublin’s rescue in the 55th minute when he saved a Westmeath penalty.
Three minutes later, Boland popped over the decisive point as the Dubs sealed their place in the 2014 Leinster U21 HC final against holders Wexford, who eased past Offaly at Wexford Park tonight.