Dublin secure perfect 10 on emotional night at Croke Park 

Dublin secure perfect 10 on emotional night at Croke Park 

Leinster SFC final: Dublin 3-21 Meath 0-9 

A decade of dominance. Imagine.

We knew it was coming. Not just a tenth straight Leinster football title for Dublin, but a 15th in 16 years. A terrible beauty indeed and they ticked this box in the most straightforward manner on Saturday night. The extraordinary made mundane.

The winning margin was the widest they have managed in this unbroken spell stretching back to 2011. It came close to bypassing the 23-point crushing of Wexford back in 2008 when Paul Caffrey was boss and sides like Laois and Westmeath still fancied themselves as contenders.

Those were the days.

To be honest, Dessie Farrell’s men could have won by whatever they wanted. The night was theirs to fashion as they wished. The only blemish was a straight red card towards the end for Cormac Costello.

Hopes that Meath would 'put it up to Dublin’ floundered almost instantly. True, the challengers did open the scoring through a Bryan Menton point but the ease with which Dublin turned the screw was apparent after Meath thieved a Dublin defender and a second point via Jordan Morris.

Stephen Cluxton pegged the kickout to Con O'Callaghan who claimed possession on the halfway line, fed Niall Scully who in turn worked it on to Brian Fenton. It all ended with Dean Rock finding the net. It was almost an act of retaliation for Meath's temerity in scoring as they did.

Meath bore down on goal twice during that half. Both times they looked like picking off a goal, both times they were forced into retreat and came away empty-handed. Kicking frees and point attempts short from open play only added to their troubles.

Dublin were oceans apart from them, playing a different sport. Meath didn't score from the seventh-minute through to half-time. The champions piled on 1-10 in that spell with Sean Bugler notching the goal.

The winning margin when these sides met in this 2019 decider was 16 points and it was exactly that at the break this time. It was impossible not to feel for the Meath team and their management who spent an age on the pitch mulling their options before making for the dressing-room.

What could they say? Not what they were thinking anyway.

Dublin weren't at their fluent best in the second-half. They went eight minutes without a score on two occasions. That's a drought in their world and it didn't matter a jot as the gap on the scoreboard still widened in a manner the rest of Leinster and neutrals everywhere have come to dread.

A Niall Scully goal in injury-time merely reminded Meath of their place after the Royals notched up five of their nine points down the home stretch. An historic achievement for Dublin. A lost decade for 11 other counties.

And no prospect of change.

Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (1-7, 5 frees, 1 '45'); S Bugler (1-2); N Scully (1-1); C Kilkenny (0-4); C O'Callaghan (0-2); P Small (0-3, 2 marks); J Small (0-1); P Mannion (0-1 free).

Scorers for Meath: J Morris (0-4, 1 free); B Menton, C O'Sullivan and J Scully (all 0-1); T O'Reilly (0-1 free); J Wallace 0-1 mark).

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, J Cooper, E Murchan; J McCarthy, J Small, R McDaid; B Fenton, D Byrne; N Scully, C Kilkenny, S Bugler; P Small, C O'Callaghan, D Rock.

Substitutes: B Howard for Cooper (HT); P Mannion for P Small (42); E Lowndes for J Small (53); C Costello for O'Callaghan (59); K McManamon for Kilkenny (65).

MEATH: M Brennan; S Lavin, C McGill, D Toner; D Keogan, S McEntee, M Costello; B Menton, R Jones; C O'Sullivan, B McMahon, R Ryan; J Morris, S Walsh, T O'Reilly.

Substitutes for Meath: C Hickey for Toner and E Harkin for McGill (both 44); E Devine for Costello (46); J Scully for McMahon (52); J Wallace for O'Reilly (53).

Referee: D O'Mahoney (Tipperary).

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