Two Niall Scully goals set Dublin on their way to an opening Super 8 Group 2 win against Ulster champions Donegal although it was a far from perfect display.
The 53,501 Croke Park crowd saw a spluttering display from the starting Dublin forward line where Scully was the pick and Brian Howard impressed before fading in the second half.
Scully’s second goal two minutes into the half gave Dublin a seven-point cushion and they led by eight before four points on the trot from Donegal made the game more of a contest.
Dublin had goal opportunities denied in the 50th and 56th minutes and found themselves only four points up in the 67th minute, failing to score for 16 minutes before Paul Flynn’s second point deep in additional time.
That said, the stench of inevitability filled everyone’s nostrils as the clock counted down.
Dublin led by two points after four minutes but found themselves trailing by one in the 11th minute after three Donegal scores in succession, Jamie Brennan followed by Frank McGlynn and Ryan McHugh, who was initially stationed in the forwards.
Dublin, who had made three late changes to seemingly reflect the pace in the Donegal team who themselves made a couple of 11th hour switches, were ruling the possession and territory stakes but weren’t demonstrating enough of it on the scoreboard.
Con O’Callaghan had the first of two first-half shots saved by Shaun Patton in the 16th minute although Ciarán Kilkenny at least kicked the ricochet over the bar.
Dublin remained a point ahead when in the 27th minute Scully came off the Hogan Stand sideline, collected a pass and soloed towards goal and his strike was low and went under Patton.
That goal came just seconds after Brennan at the other end had been put through by Michael Langan breaking down a high ball in only to sent the ball high and wide.
Inexplicably, Donegal also lost out on advantage from Conor Lane when Paddy McGrath was fouled.
Howard was in great form for Dublin and he added two points in the opening half, which finished 1-9 to 0-8 in the Leinster champions’ favour after O’Callaghan had again been thwarted by Patton following a poor kick-out by the Donegal goalkeeper.
Scorers for Dublin: D. Rock (0-7, 5 frees, 1 45); N. Scully (2-0); B. Howard, C. Costello, P. Flynn (0-2 each); C. Kilkenny, J. McCarthy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Donegal: M. Murphy (0-6, 3 frees, 1 45); J. Brennan (0-3); R. McHugh, M. Langan (0-2 each); F. McGlynn, C. Thompson, E. Doherty (0-1 each).
Dublin: S. Cluxton (c); M. Fitzsimons, J. Cooper, E. Murchan; J. McCarthy, C. O’Sullivan, J. McCaffrey; B. Fenton, M.D. Macauley; N. Scully, C. O’Callaghan, B. Howard; C. Kilkenny,
Subs for Dublin: C. Costello for M.D. Macauley (46); K. McManamon for P. Mannion (48); P. Flynn for B. Howard (54); E. Lowndes for J. McCaffrey (62); C. Basquel for C. O’Callaghan (70); D. Daly for M. Fitzsimons (70+5).
Donegal: S. Patton; E. Bán Gallagher, E. Doherty, P. McGrath; F. McGlynn, P. Brennan, S. McMenamin; H. McFadden, M. Murphy (c); O. Mac Niallais, L. McLoone, C. Thompson; R. McHugh, M. Langan, J. Brennan.
Subs for Donegal: N. McGee for P. McGrath (h-t); D. Ó Baoill for O Mac Niallais (51); C. Mulligan for C. Thompson (53); C. Ward for E. Doherty (57); A. Thompson for P. Brennan (62); S. McBrearty for J. Brennan (66).
Referee: C. Lane (Cork).