Dublin 2-16 Mayo 0-16
A whirlwind start that yielded goals for young guns, Paul Mannion and debutant Jason Whelan, laid the groundwork for this impressive Dublin victory and set up a mouth-watering Allianz Football League final against Tyrone.
Jim Gavin had no shortage of positives to mull over afterwards, with the likes of Mannion, Whelan and Jack McCaffrey so prominent.
Of the more experienced players, Paul Flynn, Michael Dara Macauley and Stephen Cluxton stood out, while Bernard Brogan lasted the 70 minutes in his return from a leg injury.
The Dublin manager was able to give a number of players significant game time, such was his side’s comfort.
He might be concerned with the fact that they only had those two goals in hand despite controlling the game almost entirely, particularly as Cluxton – whose kickouts were immaculate once again – had to make three smart saves.
He might also look at the concession of frees, as eight of Cillian O’Connor’s nine points came from ill-discipline in defence.
And Mayo were very grateful for that as they struggled offensively, apart from the admirable Michael Conroy, who scored three points from play.
They could well have conceded more goals too as Dublin opened them up with ease at times and David Clarke and Seamus O’Shea prevented the margin being much greater in the end.
The signs weren’t good for Mayo early on, even though they scored the first three points of the game. Dublin had plenty of opportunities but kicked three wides in the first three minutes.
In contrast, O’Connor pointed frees to bookend a tasty score by Cathal Carolan after neat side-step. Cluxton was called upon to deny Jason Doherty in the 10th minute but Joe McQuillan called play back for a free on the 13m line, after a tug on Donal Vaughan’s shorts and it was 0-3 to 0-0.
Dublin got going in some style though, as Cluxton found Ger Brennan from a kickout. Brennan fed Mannion 40m from the Mayo posts and everything from there was about the young Kilmacud Crokes man.
The tyro rounded Kevin Keane and left him in his trail. Bearing down on goal coming in from an angle on the left, Mannion planted a left-footed shot between Clarke and the near post to bring the sides level.
Dublin never looked back. Diarmuid Connolly slotted a nice point before Whelan took a pass from Flynn before unleashing a howitzer to the corner of the Mayo net from around 15 metres after 16 minutes.
Whelan, Brogan and Connolly helped the Blues stretch their lead to 10 points but Mayo finished strongly with scores from O’Connor, Conroy and Jason Gibbons to leave it 2-9 to 0-8 at half time.
Dublin were comfortable for most of the second half, the couple of goal opportunities they coughed up notwithstanding.
Aidan O’Shea did show his strength and ability with two wonderful points but the lack of intensity would have disappointed James Horan, as Connolly, Brogan and Mannion took some easy scores, while Macauley rampaged forward with typical athleticism.
It must be noted that this is a radically overhauled Dublin team and Mayo couldn’t cope with them. Bryan Cullen, Denis Bastick and Kevin McManamon came on in the second half but it is hard to see there being too many changes before the final.
Scorers – Dublin: P Mannion 1-4(0-1f); B Brogan 0-5(1f); J Whelan 1-1; D Connolly 0-3; D Daly, J McCaffrey, S Cluxton (f) 0-1 each.
Mayo: C O’Connor 0-9(8fs); M Conroy 0-3; A O’Shea 0-2; C Carolan, J Gibbons 0-1 each .
Dublin: S Cluxton; K O’Brien, J Cooper, D Daly; P McMahon, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; MD Macauley, C O’Sullivan; J Whelan, D Connolly, P Flynn; P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan.
Subs: N Devereaux for Daly (48); D Bastick for O’Sullivan (50); B Cullen for Flynn (54); K McManamon for Connolly (56); M Fitzsimons for Cooper (65).
Mayo: D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, C Barrett; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; J Gibbons, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, C Carolan; C O’Connor, J Doherty, M Conroy.
Subs: R Feeney for Doherty (ht); B Gallagher for Gibbons (44); M Walsh for Keane (45); E Regan for McLoughlin (64).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).