EirGrid Leinster U21 football championship Dublin 2-10 Longford 0-9: Con O’Callaghan offered another glimpse of his rare talent by scoring 2-5 in Mullingar as holders Dublin soared through to the EirGrid Leinster U21 football final, as expected.
The Dublin senior was a key played for Cuala just last Friday at Croke Park when they became the first Dublin club to win the AIB All-Ireland hurling title.
He clearly didn’t party too hard, because the UCD student cut Longford’s defence to ribbons in the county of his father’s birth to secure a final clash with Offaly in Portlaoise next Wednesday night.
Dessie Farrell’s side will bid for their fourth consecutive title success at the grade that evening and will be hot favourites, after burning off Longford with a blitz of scoring in the third quarter last night.
They led by just a point at half-time, but O’Callaghan’s goals in the 32nd and 39th minutes helped open up a 10-point gap and Dublin ultimately freewheeled through the final quarter to win with plenty to spare.
Chris Sallier kicked three important points from play, too, before going off with an apparent injury, though his replacement Stephen Smith fired a point with his first touch on a great night for the Sky Blues.
Farrell made four switches to his Dublin team from the official team-sheet before throw-in, bringing in Declan Monaghan, Glenn O’Reilly, Sallier, and Dan O’Brien.
Colm Basquel, an All-Ireland club and inter-county senior medalist in 2016, who started against Tyrone in this year’s Allianz league, wasn’t risked due to injury.
Aaron Byrne netted twice at the venue in the quarter-final against Westmeath, but was quieter and Sallier made the biggest mark early on for Dublin. They led 0-4 to 0-3 at half-time, though were fortunate, as Longford played with a stiff wind and kicked six wasteful wides, while they also dropped a point effort short and had a goal chance blocked.
Frank McNamee’s side kicked just two first-half points from open play, despite strong performances from senior duo Dessie Reynolds and David McGivney. Rian Brady got their first point from a free and kicked the equaliser at 0-2 apiece, before a brilliant long-range score from McGivney.
The midlands outfit had a goal chance in the 24th minute, but Nigel Rabbitte’s shot was expertly blocked by Dubs defender Darren Byrne.
Dublin duo O’Callaghan and Sallier shared the first-half scoring evenly between them, a brace of points each.
Sallier’s two were beauties, one off either boot, and he was the link man when O’Callaghan played a quick free and neat one-two for the injury-time score that put Dublin ahead at the interval.
O’Callaghan and Sallier combined again just 80 seconds after the restart, when the former intercepted a short kick-out, played another one-two, and slotted into an empty net with the goalkeeper stranded.
Dublin had the wind advantage now and added points from O’Callaghan and Brian Howard, before O’Callaghan’s second goal, which all but killed off the game.
Again, it was a mistake in the Longford defence, this time from Reynolds, who coughed up possession, allowing Cian Murphy to feed O’Callaghan, who finished well with an improvised drop-kick style shot from close range.
Dublin led 2-8 to 0-4 with 45 minutes on the clock, but took their foot off the gas in the closing minutes.
Longford, to their credit, refused to throw in the towel and outscored Dublin by 0-5 to 0-2.
They closed out the game with four points in a row, including two from top scorer McGivney, though the 2015 Leinster minor finalists had left themselves too much to do and were left to rue those mistakes for the O’Callaghan goals.
Scorers for Dublin:
C. O’Callaghan (2-5, 3 frees); C. Sallier (0-3); B. Howard, S. Smith (0-1 each).
Scorers for Longford:
D. McGivney (0-4, 3 frees); R. Brady (0-2, 1 free); D. Doherty, A. McElligott, D. Reynolds (0-1 each).
E. Comerford; S. McMahon, D. Monaghan, D. Byrne; C. Murphy, C. O’Shea, E. Murchan; A. Foley, B. Howard; T. Fox, A. Byrne, G. O’Reilly; C. Sallier, C. O’Callaghan, D. O’Brien.
Subs for Dublin:
D. McIlgorm for O’Reilly 45, S. Smith (0-1) for Sallier 48, S. Bugler for Byrne 52, D. Spillane for O’Brien 59, B. Shovlin for Foley 63.
C. Gallagher; K. Sorohan, C. Farrell, J. Mooney; C. Brady, D. Reynolds, R. Brady; D. McGivney, S. Kenny; J. Kelly, N. Rabbitte, P. Lynn; R. Brady, D. Carrigy, A. McElligott.
Subs for Longford:
C. Lee for Lynn 25, J. Matthews for Carrigy h/t, C. Berry for Kenny h/t, R. Sweeney for Russell Brady 41, D. Doherty (0-1) for Kelly 41, S. Kelly for Mooney 52.
N. Ward (Westmeath).
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