It’s a strike-rate that may improve further this summer, what with Dublin’s seniors and minors due to engage in battles of their own, but the county’s third national title in three years at the U21 grade has raised the inevitable debate about the capital’s strengths.
Just as inevitable was the scene after this win two days ago when Dublin manager and GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell found himself being asked about that very debate and his response was as measured as always.
“It’s just a special era,” said Farrell. “I don’t think it is going to last forever.
“I wouldn’t be getting carried away. People who understand the game in Dublin wouldn’t be either. A lot of work has gone in to it at county board level but it is an era. That’s all it is. It could come to a grinding halt very shortly.”
Farrell was spot on.
If the Roman and British empires can fall then there is no reason to disbelieve Farrell when it comes to the Dubs. Success is, and always will be, cyclical in sport. It may be that Dublin’s cycles just prove to be more pronounced. Farrell spoke about the development squad system the county has adopted, one imported from Ulster, and how the hot-housing of young talent has fed successive vintages with a growing body of talented and athletic young footballers.
Nobody knows better than him.
The Na Fianna man has been coaching and managing the majority of the Dublin players who featured at the weekend since the U13 grade and it should be pointed out that this was a group that was always highlighted as special.
In 2011, their coronation appeared at hand when they reached the All-Ireland minor final, only for Tipperary to trump them, but there was no denying them at O’Connor Park.
“I’m delighted for them,” said Farrell. “Three years ago this particular group had a devastating defeat in an All-Ireland minor final at Croke Park so it is a long time, three years, but I am delighted they got their just rewards.”
The last hurdle may have been cleared with something to spare but it would be wrong and unfair to paint a campaign that started with a 33-point defeat of Carlow as some sort of parade.
Only a controversial late free did for Cavan in the semi-final and the group has had to come to terms with the news that their young forward Shane Carthy has withdrawn from the panel as he battles depression.
His colleagues were still able to produce the side’s best performance of the season on the biggest day of all, leading Roscommon by 0-14 to 0-1 at half-time and by 1-17 to 0-1 five minutes into the second period. It was destruction at its most total.
Farrell will be sending seven of his players back to Jim Gavin for senior duties — the injured Ciarán Kilkenny would have made it eight — but the true depth of their reserves is franked by the fact that Conor McHugh won’t be one of them. Not yet.
The Na Fianna player was part of a full-forward line that contributed 1-18 on the day, with the 20-year DCU economics and law student responsible for a near flawless 1-6 of that from play in a man-of-the-match display.
McHugh, Paul Mannion and Cormac Costello, the latter of whom pulled up with a hamstring injury late on, made hay in a full-forward line against a full-back line left isolated from their peers.
So dominant were Dublin that Roscommon went 34 minutes without a score until a Diarmuid Murtagh point instigated a hat-trick of goals, two from himself and one from Kieran Kilcline, in a six-minute second-half spell.
Even that was too little too late. Roscommon were already floundering midway through the first half, trailing by half-a-dozen points, when Dublin full-back Davy Byrne was dismissed with a black card and Donie Smith’s weak penalty was saved by Lorcan Molloy.
Roscommon’s problems were most obvious in a five-minute spell before the break when eight successive attempts to escape their half came to naught.
“Some days you get it right and some days you don’t,” said Farrell.
This was a day when Dublin got it very right, indeed.
Scorers for Dublin: C McHugh 1-6; P Mannion 0-8 (5f, 1 45); C Costello 0-4 (3f); J McCaffrey; N Scully; S Cunningham 0-1 each.
Scorers for Roscommon: D Murtagh 2-3 (0-2f); U Harney 0-2; E Smith 0-1.
DUBLIN: L Molloy; R McGowan, D Byrne, R McDaid; C Mulally, J Small, J McCaffrey; S Boland, E Lowndes, N Scully; P Mannion, C Costello, C McHugh.
Subs: E O Conghaile for Byrne (15); G Hannigan for Boland; G Ivory for O’Higgins (both 45); S Cunningham for Costello (50); N Walsh for Mannion (61).
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; D Murray, C Kenny, S Mullooly; R Daly, J McManus, C Daly; U Harney, T Corcoran; K KIlcline, M Healy, E Smith; D Murtagh, M Nally, D Smith.
Subs: M Gunning for Nally (22); T Featherston for Kenny (26); N McInerney for Daly (31); A Gleeson for Gunning (h-t); S Flynn for Daly (51); S Killoran for Healy (59).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).