Dublin 2-10 Donegal 0-11
Dublin avenged last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat, with a five-point win over Donegal at Croke Park tonight.
Despite being reduced to 14-men following the dismissal of Kevin McManamon on a second yellow card in the 44th minute, Jim Gavin’s men dug deep for victory.
Dublin led by 1-5 to 0-7 at half-time, with Cormac Costello netting a fifth minute goal, with Donegal keeper Paul Durcan coming off soon after with a head injury
Dean Rock and Eoghan O’Gara kept Dubin on top, although scores from Christy Toye and Paddy McBrearty ensured just a point separated the sides at the break.
Michael Murphy levelled the contest 20 seconds after the restart, but this was as close as it got in the closing 35 minutes.
McManamon’s red card threatened to destabilise Dublin, but half-back Jack McCaffrey popped up with Dublin’s second goal seven minutes from time, and from then on, Dublin held out for a deserved win.
Dublin manager Jim Gavin made a trio of late changes with Michael Fitzsimons, Davy Byrne and Eric Lowndes replacing Rory O’Carroll, McCaffrey and Shane Carthy.
The Late former Dublin Chairman Andy Kettle was honoured with a round of applause before throw-in.
In Rory Gallagher’s first game at Croke Park as Donegal manager, the Ulstermen begin in perfect fashion, with Murphy hitting the perfect note inside 30 seconds of the throw-in from play, while just over a minute later he followed up with a point from a free, as Donegal took an early 0-2 to 0-0 lead.
Dean Rock kicked Dublin’s first wide after four minutes, but Dublin kept on the pressure, as Fitzsimons picked out Costello for a fourth minute goal and place them 1-0 to 0-2 ahead after five minutes.
Durcan’s head injury saw Michael Boyle enter the fray and the Termon clubman was heavily involved as Donegal tried to steady the shop.
Murphy brought the sides level after 10 minutes, but once Davy Byrne registered Dublin’s first point with 17 minutes gone they wouldn’t trail this game.
Scores from Emmet Ó Conghaile and Eoghan O’Gara opened up a 1-3 to 0-3 lead after 22 minutes, but a McBrearty brace cut the gap to the minimum.
McBrearty, Christy Toye and Murphy worked hard upfront, with McBrearty and Toye kicking the final points of the half, to ensure a 1-5 to 0-7 interval score-line.
The second half began as the first had, with Murphy firing an early score from the first attack, but Dean Rock kept Dublin on top, from play and placed balls.
A glimmer of light came for Donegal after McMenamin’s dismissal, but they struggled to build on this numerical advantage.
McBrearty cut the gap to a point after 46 minutes, but Odhran MacNiallais failed to land an equaliser.
Rock pushed Dublin 1-8 to 0-9 ahead with 14 minutes remaining, after five Donegal attacks all failed to yield a score.
Donegal never gave up with Toye ensuring a one-point game in the 51st minute.
But McCaffrey added 1-1 without reply, including a 63rd minute goal, while Donegal lost Michael Murphy to a black card in the 67th minute, as Dublin held out for a five-point win.
DUBLIN: S Currie; E Culligan, M Fitzsimons, D Daly; J Cooper, J Small, E Lowndes; D Bastick, E O’Conghaile (0-1); T Brady, D Rock (0-5, 4f, 1 45), Davy Byrne (0-1); K McManamon, E O’Gara (0-1), C Costello (1-0). Subs: David Byrne for Culligan (16), C Kilkenny (0-1) for Keaney (18), J McCaffrey (1-1) for Lowndes (48), P McMahon for Cooper (60), B Brogan for Costello (64), C Reddan for Davy Byrne (68).
DONEGAL: P Durcan; E Doherty, E McGee, P McGrath; F McGlynn, K Lacey, M McHugh; N Gallagher, C Toye (0-2); R McHugh, M O’Reilly, O MacNiallis; P McBrearty (0-4, 1f), M Murphy (0-4, 2f), H McFadden. Subs: M Boyle for Durcan (7), N McGee for McGrath (19), M McElhinney for O’Reilly (46), C McFadden (0-1) for H McFadden (54), D O’Connor for Doherty (64), D McLaughlin for Murphy (black card 68).
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois).