While not perfect, the performance left manager Tommy Lyons rubbing his hands in anticipation of what is to come.
Louth were undoubtedly below par and, when they were stunned by Alan Brogan’s opportunist goal after five minutes, they had to endure a succession of near misses, including two golden goal opportunities. They were also forced to play out the final 20 minutes of the game with 14 men, after midfielder Seamus O’Hanlon was shown a red card by referee Pat McEnaney for a needless foul on Jonathan Magee.
Even at that stage, however, the game had drifted away from Louth, who could not cope with the speed of a Dublin side willing to contest every ball.
Louth were already suffering at midfield where Dublin’s Ciaran Whelan and Darren Magee were rampant, winning ball at will, surging upfield. Aided by a resolute half back line, it ensured a constant supply for an eager Dublin attack.
Their first goal was one that is now typical of this new side moulded by Tommy Lyons. A long ball from Jonathan Magee found full-forward Ray Cosgrove running goalwards and he flicked it ahead for Alan Brogan to deftly fist it to the net with both hands.
But it cost Brogan who, in executing the finish, collided with the goalpost and injured his back. He was replaced by Tomas Quinn a short time later.
Louth, momentarily stunned, launched an attack that yielded their first point from a free by JP Rooney. They were then presented with a golden opportunity when wing-back John Neary took the ball upfield and despatched it to Mark Stanfield, as Dublin full-back Paddy Christie lost his footing. Wing forward Nicky McDonnell took the pass with the Dublin keeper Stephen Cluxton advancing and, when it appeared all he had to do was tap it to the corner of the net, his powerful drive hit the side of the upright and sizzled across the goalmouth, with the remnants of the Dublin defence looking on helplessly.
From here on, Dublin were in the driving seat with points coming from all directions. Midfielder Ciaran Whelan fired over two, Tomas Quinn, who had replaced Alan Brogan, had two more and wing-back David Henry and full-forward Ray Cosgrove added one apiece. Louth’s replay came in the form of four points from frees, three from JP Rooney and the other from Mark Stanfield, as Dublin led 1-8 to 0-4 at half time after shooting 10 wides to Louth’s three.
Louth showed a glimmer of hope early in the second half after Brian Cullen (free) and JP Rooney swapped points. It came when a sideline kick by full-back Aaron Hoey found JP Rooney, but Stephen Cluxton did well to save his shot for Paul Griffin to clear.
Hopes of a revival were dashed when Seamus O’Hanlon, who had been shown a yellow card earlier, got his marching orders. After delivering a delightful ball to the Louth forwards, he appeared to make contact with Jonathan Magee and was red carded.
They had another chance after 55 minutes when Simon Gerard took the ball upfield, found JP Rooney who passed to Ollie McDonnell , but he hit the post.
It was one-way traffic after this for Dublin. Everywhere, they oozed confidence as Tommy Lyons played the bench and each came up trumps. David O’Callaghan, who replaced John McNally scored two points, Tomas Quinn added another to his two first-half scores, and Coman Goggins and Tom Mulligan (fee) also contributed to highlight the depth of the squad.
Scorers for Dublin: A. Brogan 1-0; C. Whelan, B. Cullen (0-2 frees), R. Cosgrave (0-1 frees), T. Quinn 0-3 each, D. O’Callaghan 0-2, D. Henry, D. Magee, S. Connell, C. Goggins, T. Mulligan (free) 0-1 each.
Louth: J.P. Rooney 0-4 (0-3 frees), M. Farrelly and O. McDonnell 0-2 each and M. Stanfield (free) 0-1.
DUBLIN: S. Cluxton; B. Cahill, P. Christie, P. Griffin; D. Henry, J. Magee, C. Moran; C. Whelan, D. Magee; B. Cullen, S. Ryan, S. Connell; A. Brogan, R. Cosgrove, J. McNally. Subs: T. Quinn for A. Brogan (17 mins); T. Mulligan for S. Ryan (42 mins); L. Og O’hEineachain for S. Connell (51 mins); D. O’Callaghan for J. McNally (52 mins); C. Goggins for C. Moran (63 mins).
LOUTH: S. Reynolds; A. Page, A. Hoey, D. Brennan; S. Gerard, P. McGinnity, J. Neary; K. Reilly, S. O’Hanlon; B. Clarke, M. Farrelly, N. McDonnell; J. P. Rooney, M. Stanfield, O. McDonnell. Subs: D. Reilly for J. Neary (Half Time); P. Keenan for N. McDonnell (50 mins); C. Quinn for M. Stanfield (53 mins); C. Grimes for B. Clarke (64 mins); J. Clerkin for D. Reilly (67 mins).
Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan).