Dublin 1-24 Galway 2-12
Dublin have eased their way into their fourth All Ireland final in a row with an easy victory over Galway in Croke Park this evening.
While the game was in the balance at half-time with only two points between the sides, Dublin were able to make significant changes in the second half and up-the-ante, for which Galway had no reply. The Tribesmen were left to question brave decisions that did not pay off like the choice of Eamonn Brannigan as a penalty taker and the move of Damien Comer away from a scoring position for a large portion of the opening half-hour.
There were ominous signs for Galway early on as Dublin targeted Ruairí Lavelle’s kick-outs to great effect. Matters weren’t helped by a lack of discipline that allowed Dean Rock to kick the All Ireland champions into an early lead. Paul Mannion and Brian Howard also fired over entirely uncontested. There were hopeful signs for the Tribesmen as they came away with scores when they attacked and ran at the Dublin full-back line with pace. The game immediately swung in their favour when Ciarán Duggan floated a beautiful ball into the square which Damien Comer pounced upon when Stephen Cluxton came off his line.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 11, 2018
Despite their dominance of possession, Dublin were unable to get shots away and suddenly, Galway were gifted another opportunity when Jonny Cooper dragged back Comer in the square and the referee signalled a penalty. The fateful decision was made that Eamonn Brannigan, who has not scored a goal in this championship, should take it and to the despair of the significant Galway following, Cluxton read the play easily and saved it with Shane Walsh missing the resulting 45′.
Walsh eventually pointed a free and Ian Burke followed that with a fine point as he came roaring into the game. But up the other end of the field, Dublin were having just as much success and when Con O’Callaghan connected with a pass from Niall Scully, there was only ever going to be one result.
Con O'Callaghan with a goal for Dublin! pic.twitter.com/zvqJQ0RvjW
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 11, 2018
Significantly, Comer, who was enjoying great success, was moved from the edge of the square and tasked with following Jonny Cooper around the pitch and found himself operating from the half-back line for a period, thus greatly reducing their scoring threat. Nevertheless, Burke and Walsh were able to nab scores from distance and they were only two points behind at half-time.
The Dubs started the second half just as dangerously as they did the first. Niall Scully hit the post and Jack McCaffrey was ready to jump on the rebound but the situation was rescued by Eoghan Kerin. Comer was restored in his correct position but the quality of ball supplied was poor. McCaffrey expertly stole a Lavelle kick-out from Johnny Heaney but Galway did well to push the attack backwards. Eventually Ciarán Kilkenny drifted 10 yards off his marker, Gareth Bradshaw and pointed with ease to stretch their lead to four points.
Dublin introduced the pace and movement of Cormac Costello to great effect and he set up Dean Rock for his first point from play in the 51st minute. Shane Walsh pointed a free but Galway were allowed no breathing space as Jim Gavin ruthlessly emptied his bench, introducing players like Kevin McMenamin and Michael Darragh McAuley while Costello continued to cause chaos, scoring two points while also creating another goal opportunity. An efficient Dublin moved up through the gears with ease with Galway unable to match their intensity. Brian Fenton pointed before Costello, revelling in his role, fired over a free. Comer did nudge over a sublime point from the sideline but Dublin replied promptly to reinstate their nine point win.
With seconds remaining, Galway clawed a goal back through superb footwork from Walsh but it wasn’t even a consolation for their supporters as Dublin eased to their 24th consecutive win and yet another All Ireland Final.
Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Eoin Murchan, Cian O’Sullivan, Philly McMahon; Jonny Cooper, James McCarthy, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton (0-2), John Small; Niall Scully, Ciarán Kilkenny (0-3), Brian Howard (0-1); Con O’Callaghan (1-3), Dean Rock (0-5, 4f), Paul Mannion (0-4).
Substitutions: Mick Fitzsimons for O’Sullivan (28) Cormac Costello (0-3, 1f) for Scully (43) Kevin McMenamin (0-2) for Rock (56) Michael Darragh McAuley for Murchan (57) Darren Daly for Small (66) Paul Flynn (0-1) for McCaffrey (68)
Galway: Ruairí Lavelle; Declan Kyne, Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Eoghan Kerin; Cathal Sweeney, Gareth Bradshaw, Ciaran Duggan; Johnny Heaney (0-1), Thomas Flynn (0-1); Shane Walsh (1-5, 2f), Sean Armstrong, Seán Kelly; Ian Burke (0-2), Damien Comer (1-1), Eamonn Brannigan.
Substitutions: Michael Daly (0-1) for Armstrong (46) Peter Cooke for Brannigan (50) Gary O’Donnell (0-1) for Sweeney (55) Adrian Varley for Heaney (60) Johnny Duane for Bradshaw (67)