Dublin 2-16 Donegal 0-13
Dublin huffed and puffed at times, but in the end they blew Donegal away pretty comprehensively today.
Donegal were in this game for most of its 72 minutes, and injury-time goals from Bryan Cullen and Diarmuid Connolly flatter Dublin.
The finished the match how they started it – impressively. It took them just 20 seconds to score the first point of the match when Bryan Cullen raced through and finished smartly.
The All-Ireland Champions played some good stuff in the opening minutes, and further points from Diarmuid Connolly and enterprising defender Jonathan Cooper, left them three to the good.
Michael Murphy knocked over a couple of scores to give Donegal a toe-hold in the game, but he was ploughing a lone furrow in attack for the Ulster team.
There was far more variation to Dublin’s attacking thrusts, and they took a 0-6 to 0-3 lead thanks to an Eamon Fennell point that could easily have been a goal.
He got a strong fist to a high-ball in from Kevin Nolan, but Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan showed great reflexes to tip his effort over the bar.
Four minutes later Dublin ripped through the Donegal defence again when Michael Dara McAuley sent Kevin McManamon clear, but just as he pulled the trigger his heel was clipped by Frank McGlynn and he failed to make a clean contact with the ball.
Donegal were just about hanging in there, but their tactic of lumping the ball forward to Murphy was all too predictable and not very effective.
Wing-backs Anthony Thompson and Leo McCloone did manage to sally forward and score a couple of nice points, but Dublin were still playing the more convincing football and went in at the break leading by 0-9 to 0-5.
You expected to Dublin to kick on from there at the start of the second half, but instead it was Donegal who set the agenda by playing far more cohesively than they had in the first half.
It took them just seven minutes to draw level thanks to points from Murphy (2), Neil McGee and Paddy McBrearty, and suddenly we had a real game of football on our hands.
Dublin’s initial response to this Donegal resurgence was impressive. Kevin McMenamin brought another great save out of Durcan when his fiercely driven shot was tipped over the bar, and then substitute Dean Kelly scored a nice point after a jinking run.
Donegal weren’t going away though, and they hauled themselves level again thanks to points from Christy Toye and Murphy. When Murphy was then forced off injured though, the balance of power shifted decisively in Dublin’s favour.
They immediately tacked on three points through Stephen Cluxton, Paul Flynn and Dean Rock, and then Donegal’s fading hopes of a getting something from the game were extinguished altogether when Bryan Cullen and Diarmuid Connolly scored those two injury-time goals.
Dublin: D Connolly 1-3, B Cullen 1-1, K McManamon 0-3, J Cooper, E Fennell, MD MacAuley, T Quinn, P Flynn, D Kelly, A Brogan, D Rock, S Cluxton (f) all 0-1
Donegal: M Murphy 0-6 (3f, 1 ’45), N McGee, A Thompson, L McCloone, C Toye, M McElhinney, D Walsh, P McBrearty (f) all 0-1
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O’Carroll, C O’Sullivan; J Cooper, G Brennan, K Nolan; E Fennell, MD MacAuley; B Cullen, A Brogan, P Flynn; D Connolly, K McManamon, T Quinn. Subs: S Murray for G Brennan (24), D Rock for A Brogan (29), D Kelly for T Quinn (ht), C Dias for J Cooper (58)
DONEGAL: P Durcan; F McGlynn, N McGee, P McGreath; A Thompson, K Lacey, L McLoone; C Toye, N Gallagher; M McHugh, R Bradley, M O’Reilly; M McElhinney, M Murphy, P McBrearty. Subs: D Walsh for M O’Reilly (29), E McGee for C Toye (53), A Hanlon for M Murphy (59), D McLaughlin for R Bradley (63)
Ref: E Kinsella (Laois)