Another demolition job as Dublin cruise into final

IT must be a major concern to Dublin manager John McEvoy that his players will go into next month’s All-Ireland U21 hurling final against Galway without a decent challenge under their belts.

His talented side have cruised into the decider with a series of comfortable wins, none more so that this 26 points drubbing of Antrim at Páirc Esler on Saturday.

Nevertheless, the Metropolitans’ involvement in both underage title deciders is a source of further encouragement to those who have delighted in the huge strides being made in the county in the promotion and development of the game. The Tribesmen will ask more serious questions of this Dublin team, and McEvoy is hoping to have the answers when they meet at Thurles on September 10.

“You just take the game on its merits. I suppose Antrim are a bit disappointed with their own performance,” he said.

“We felt coming up that maybe it would be a little bit tighter, but it wasn’t to be.

“You just play what’s out there, you just play the opposition, and that’s what we did.”

The Dubs hit three cracking goals, and there’s a sense that they’re going to need a few three-pointers if they are to overcome a Galway side that looked hugely impressive in their thrilling win over Limerick.

“We said that if they had a chance (of goal), to go for it. I felt maybe before that we were offloading a lot of handpasses and so on. So we said to the inside line that if they had a chance to go for it. Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t. We got three today, it’s not a deliberate tactic, but just to give them a little bit of confidence inside,” said McEvoy.

Mark Schutte was the first to beat Saffron goalkeeper Eoin Gillan when he blasted home a spectacular effort after just 60 seconds.

Already it was clear that this was going to be a difficult afternoon for the Ulster champions, and sure enough, they were outclassed in virtually every department from there to the finish.

Sean McGrath and Ben Quinn also found the net, and Niall McMorrow rattled the crossbar with a screaming shot just before half-time.

By that stage, Dublin had built up a 1-9 to 0-4 advantage. Kevin O’Loughlin steered over five points, including a delightful sideline cut, to ease them comfortably ahead.

James Black, Michael Devlin and Conor McCann, with a couple of frees, were on target for the Saffrons, but they never looked like seriously troubling a Dublin rearguard built around skipper Liam Rushe, with Dean Curran and the excellent Martin Quilty always looking to turn defence to attack.

At the other end Michael Armstrong performed heroics at the back for Antrim and Kevin McKiernan put in a brave shift, but there was nothing they could do to withstand the onslaught that engulfed them immediately after the restart.

Dublin went on the rampage, hitting 1-10 in a devastating 12 minute spell at the start of the second half.

McGrath finished to the net after Eamon Dillon’s shot had been kept out by Gillan, and the points followed in rapid flow from Schutte, Dillon, Dean Curran, McMorrow, McGrath and O’Loughlin.

Antrim offered only token resistance, their defence completely overrun, and late points from Paddy McNaughton and skipper McCann not even of any consolation.

It was too easy for a vastly superior Dublin side, who eased up somewhat in the closing quarter, but finished emphatically with a third goal, substitute Ben Quinn blasting home with his first touch.

“We emptied the bench there at the end, and we saw a lot of the lads that came on did very well. That’s a pattern that we’ve been following all year,” said McEvoy.

“I thought in the second half, particularly in the first 10 minutes, that we upped it a lot and were a lot more direct.

We were a little bit more fluent in our play. We started taking better options. We had a break for about four and a half to five weeks, and sometimes that’s difficult, leading up to a semi-final, but we’re delighted to be there, delighted to get the job done, and just move onto the final now in three weeks time.”

Subs for Dublin: F Clabby for O’Carroll, T Connolly for O’Loughlin, S O’Connor for Sufcliffe, O O Maoileidigh for McGrath, B Quinn for Rushe

Subs for Antrim: C Gillan for Devlin, A Downey for McKeague, B Curran for Laverty

Scorers for Dublin: M Schutte 1-3, S McGrath 1-1, B Quinn 1-0, K O’Loughlin 0-7 (4f, 1s/l), N McMorrow, D Plunkett 0-3 each, E Dillon 0-2, D Curan, T Connolly, O O Maoileidigh, C Gough 0-1 each Scorers for Antrim: C McCann 0-3 (3 f), J Black, P McNaughton, M Devlin 0-1 each.

Referee: F Smith (Meath).

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