An 11-point haul from David Treacy inched Cunningham’s adopted Dubs closer to a second pre-season title success in three seasons. They’ll play Laois in the semi-finals next weekend though if they do ultimately win the competition it remains to be seen who’ll raise the cup. John McCaffrey captained Dublin under former boss Anthony Daly and memorably lifted the national league and Leinster championship trophies.
“We have no captain at the moment, we’re rotating it,” said Cunningham. “We’re just going to have a look at it and give me a chance to get to know the lads. We’re not going to rush into appointing someone at the moment.”
Treacy was excellent from placed balls and open play at Parnell Park while Danny Sutcliffe and Mark Schutte shot five points each. They endured a sticky patch in the third quarter when Saffrons sub Ciaran Clarke inspired the visitors. Clarke shot 1-1 to help reduce their arrears to just four points with 20 minutes to go.
But they were down to 14 men at that stage after Eoghan Campbell’s dismissal and Neil McManus saw red late on too. Dublin took advantage of their extra numbers to eventually burn off the northerners. Conor Murphy played the full game in defence for Dublin while fellow rookies John Hetherton and Shane Stapleton lined out in attack.
Dublin moved 0-14 to 0-5 clear after 30 minutes with 10 of those scores coming from Treacy and Sutcliffe. Eddie McCloskey grabbed a 35th minute goal with a first-time ground stroke after great work by McManus. Antrim still trailed 0-16 to 1-5 at half-time but had vital momentum and Clarke’s 46th minute goal after an error hauled them back. Campbell’s red card for a wild pull on Sutcliffe was a big blow, however, and Dublin finished strong with nine points in the last 20 minutes including two from young sub Cian Boland.
Scorers for Dublin: D Treacy (0-11, seven frees), D Sutcliffe and M Schutte (0-5 each), D O’Callaghan and C Boland (0-2 each), J Boland, S Stapleton and J Hetherton (0-1 each).
Scorers for Antrim: E McCloskey and C Clarke (1-1 each), N McManus (0-4, three frees), P Shiels (0-2, two frees), M Donnelly, C McCann, C Johnson and D McKernan (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: G Maguire; P Schutte, M Carton, S Durkin; P Kelly, C Murphy, E O’Donnell; R O’Carroll, J Boland; J Hetherton, S Stapleton, D Sutcliffe; D O’Callaghan, M Schutte, D Treacy.
Subs: C MacGiolla Bhride for Durkin (39), C Boland for Hetherton (50), E Dillon for Stapleton (63).
ANTRIM: C O’Connell; R McCambridge, N McAuley, A Graffin; S McCrory, C McKinley, O McFadden; E Campbell, E McCloskey; N McManus, M Donnelly, C Johnson; C McCann, P Shiels, PJ O’Connell.
Subs: J McGreevy for McFadden (18), C Clarke for McCrory (h/t), T McCann for Donnelly (49), D McKernan for PJ O’Connell (58), B McFall for C McCann (65).
Referee: J Heffernan (Wexford).