The capital haven’t claimed national honours at the grade since 1984 when Tipperary were their fall guys and the same county will provide the opposition yet again.
Dublin had reached the last four having torched five different counties but they stuttered through this thanks in large part to the efforts of a Galway side that could boast seven starters from a St Jarlath’s outfit that had reached the final of the Hogan Cup.
Three of those were stationed in a back division that was bypassed with some ease by the opposition from the throw-in when a slick five-man move ended with corner-forward Scott Fulham sliding a finish low to the goalkeeper’s right and into the net. A grand total of 14 seconds had elapsed.
The goal was greeted with an almost inaudible cheer by the small smattering of Dublin supporters inside the ground that early but, with the strong wind at their backs, the omens weren’t looking good for the Connacht finalists.
But, quickly enough, Galway’s Sean Moran tested the agility of goalkeeper Ross O’Hanlon, Gearoid Armstrong almost fisted a stray shot into the same net and then Gavin Ivory attempted a Hollywood finish when an easy point would have suited Dublin better.
It calmed down after that. Ivory slotted over a ‘45’ before Shane Walsh opened Galway’s account with a straightforward free but Dublin appeared to have the situation in check for the rest of the half.
It took Galway 18 minutes to register their first score from play and it came from corner-forward Conor Rabbitte who added a second shortly before the break. Both were sublime and helped keep the deficit to four at the interval.
Dublin will have talked about their problems at the break and about their poor use of possession especially but, with just four points conceded, it’s unlikely that they would have dwelt all that long on their defence.
They weren’t to know what Galway manager Tommie Joyce was up to across the corridor. The two-time All-Ireland winner started the second-half with midfielder Shane Maughan on the edge of the Dublin square and with full-forward Ian Burke withdrawn deeper.
It worked. Rabbitte kick-started their best spell with a point that belied the difficulty of angle and distance and they added two more white flags before Dublin full-back Robert McDaid dragged Burke down in the square.
Walsh stepped up to slot the resultant penalty low past O’Hanlon and, when Burke added another point after 39 minutes, Dublin suddenly found themselves three points down and with some serious work to do.
Galway had another goal ruled out, correctly, when Maughan’s fisted effort was cancelled due to a square ball and, although no-one knew it then, that proved to be the end to their brief but brilliant period of dominance.
Slowly but surely, Dublin reeled them in. Six of the last seven points scored were claimed by the Leinster champions. Four of them came from the boot of Ciaran Kilkenny, the highly-rated dual star who will feature in both finals next month.
The pick of them was a howitzer from distance that cleared the goalposts with metres to spare before dropping into a by now packed Hill 16 that greeted the effort with a buoyant cheer. It won’t be the last time Kilkenny earns their acclaim.
A blue tide is rising.
Scorers for Dublin: C Kilkenny (0-6, 2 frees); S Fulham (1-1); J Small (0-1); C Costello (0-1); G Ivory (0-1); P Mannion (0-1).
Scorers for Galway: S Walsh (1-4, 0-4 frees, 1-0 pen); C Rabbitte (0-3); S Maughan (0-1); I Burke (0-1).
DUBLIN: R O’Hanlon; G Hannigan, R McDaid, R Real; E Lowndes, J Small, J McCaffrey; P O’Higgins, P Mannion, G Ivory, C Costello; S Fulham, D Campbell, C Kilkenny.
Subs: D Byrne for Real (35); N Scully for Campbell (44); E Archbold for Costello (52); C Meaney for Fulham (64).
GALWAY: C Glesson; A Nolan, J Shaughnessy, E Murray; E Walsh, C Cunningham, C Mulryan; S Maughan, G Canavan; S Moran, S Walsh, P Glynn; G Armstrong, I Burke, C Rabbitte.
Subs: T Curran for Glynn (47); S Geoghegan for Armstrong (49); G Gibbons for Moran (56); L Silke for Canavan (64).
Referee: R O’Donell (Donegal).