Dublin 1-20 Donegal 0-13
Dublin stand just 70 minutes away from claiming a fourth successive Allianz Football League Division 1 title after a comfortable defeat of Donegal at a sometimes sunny but mostly frigid HQ on Sunday afternoon, writes Brendan O’Brien.
Jim Gavin’s All-Ireland champions will meet Kerry – the last county to claim that particular quartet of trophies back in 1974 – in the decider after the Munster men accounted for a disappointing Roscommon side in the first of the day’s semi-finals.
It will be the pair’s first meeting in a league decider since 1987.
Dublin and Donegal had met at this same venue just weeks earlier, for what had been a turgid, low-scoring affair, but space wasn’t at such a premium this time and the result was a more aesthetically pleasing game even if it was one that wanted for intensity.
A grand total of eighteen scores had been posted in that first meeting of the season last month: a quota that was bettered with half-an-hour still to go here.
Not that it mattered. By then, Dublin were seven points to the good and in total control.
It was the usual all-court game from the Dubs who posted eleven players on the scoresheet, five of them defenders. Donegal, by contrast, had just three men troubling the umpires and only four of their points were scored from play.
Paddy McBrearty was their best on the day, the Kilcar forward claiming eight points.
Three of them came from play, but Donegal all too often found themselves approaching the Dublin rearguard at a snail’s pace and they lacked the nous to break that down.
Dublin were more multi-faceted. Only four of their scores came from dead balls.
Ciaran Kilkenny earned the ‘Best of…’ award at the end, but any number of players put their hand up yet again. Gavin’s is an embarrassment of riches.
The goal came shortly after half-time, Bernard Brogan latching on to a long ball from the superb Philly McMahon before slipping the ball under the Donegal goalkeeper.
Even then, at such an early stage, it looked unlikely that the game would end as a cliffhanger.
Just another day for this incredible Dublin side.
Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (0-5, 3 frees); B Brogan (1-2); C Kilkenny (0-3); P Andrews and P Mannion (both 0-2); P McMahon, J Cooper, J McCarthy, J Small, C Costello and E Lowndes (all 0-1).
Scorers for Donegal: P McBrearty (0-8, 5 frees); M Murphy (0-4 frees); M McElhinney (0-1).
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, J McCarthy, J Cooper; J Small, C O’Sullivan, D Small; B Fenton, D Bastick; P Flynn, D Rock, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan. Subs: C Costello for Andrews (45); E Lowndes for Bastick (49); M Fitzsimons for McMahon (53); SB Carthy for Flynn (61); K O’Brien for Cooper (63); S Carthy for O’Sullivan (67).
Donegal: MA McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; C Gillespie, R McHugh, K Lacey; R Kavanagh, O Mac Niallais; F McGlynn, M McElhinney, M O’Reilly; L McLoone, M Murphy, P McBrearty. Subs: S McBrearty for O’Reilly (15); C McGonagle for Mac Niallais (50); C McFadden for McElhinney (53); C Toye for Kavanagh (67); EB Gallagher for McLoone (67; J O’Brien for Gillespie (71).
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).