By Paul Keane
Dublin 1-16 DCU 1-12
It wasn't Dublin's vintage best, far from it, but the holders held firm at Parnell Park to secure a Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup semi-final spot next weekend.
Jim Gavin's side started the day a point behind DCU so needed a win to progress to the last four as Group A winners and duly delivered with Con O'Callaghan shooting an important 1-2.
It wasn't nearly as big a win as their midweek thrashing of IT Carlow though DCU are Sigerson Cup champions and the teams also have some history.
Two seasons ago, DCU won this fixture in similar circumstances to advance so Dublin were forewarned.
Talented dual player O'Callaghan hit Dublin's only goal while free-taker Dean Rock landed 0-6, four points of that coming from play.
Gavin, who handed game time to 27 different players in Dublin's two previous games, experimented again in all sectors, bringing that figure to 29 with the introduction of Stephen Cunningham and Darren Daly.
Stephen Cluxton did return to the panel though Michael Savage remained in goals for the third game running. He couldn't keep a clean sheet though as Enda Smith kicked a 67th minute goal for the students.
Local boy Jarlath Curley of St Vincent's was full-back while Conor Mullally of Cuala was in the corner beside him with Jonny Cooper in the other.
James McCarthy joined Denis Bastick in midfield while Cuala's O'Callaghan was lively up front, dovetailing neatly with Shane Carthy of Vincent's and Cormac Costello.
Dublin led 1-07 to 0-06 at half-time and O'Callaghan claimed 1-1 of that tally, his 19th minute goal a fine left footed finish after a clever Tomas Brady diagonal ball in and a Costello lay off.
Longford's Michael Quinn was industrious and effective for DCU, while Monaghan man Shane Carey and Smith chipped in with three first-half points each.
Carey finished with seven points, while Smith took his tally to 1-3 following that late goal.
But even that net blast only reduced the Students' arrears to three points as Dublin maintained control of the second-half, picking off timely points from the likes of Paddy Andrews, O'Callaghan, Rock and Jason Whelan.
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-6 (0-3f), C O'Callaghan 1-2, C Costello 0-3, S Carthy and P Andrews 0-2 each, J Whelan 0-1.
Scorers for DCU: S Carey 0-7 (0-3f), E Smith 1-3, M Quinn and D Byrne 0-1 each.
Dublin: M Savage; J Cooper, J Curley, C Mullally; N Scully, P McMahon, J Small; J McCarthy, D Bastick; T Brady, D Rock, S Carthy; C Costello, P Andrews, C O'Callaghan.
Subs: J Whelan for Brady (h/t), C Reddin for Bastick (43), D Daly for Mullally (49), M Deegan for Andrews (53), S Cunningham for McCarthy (58), E Culligan for Cooper (59).
DCU: P O'Donnell; E Smith, K Feely, S Attride; C Mulligan, C Moynagh, D Byrne; C McGonagle, S Carthy; R Connor, M Quinn, C Breheny; C McHugh, E Smith, S Carey.
Subs: D Ward for Mulligan (30+1), S McCoy for McHugh (h/t), D Mannix for Breheny (h/t), N Gavigan for Feely (43), P McKenna for Eoin Smith (46), Eoghan Smith for Connor (53).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).