Dublin saw off the brave effort of Ulster champions, Donegal to claim the win in their opening encounter of the Super 8s in Croke Park this evening.
There were ominous signs for Declan Bonner’s men from the start as two kick-outs from Shaun Patton went straight into the waiting arms of the Dublin forwards, who failed to punish the goalkeeper’s mistake. Donegal frustrated the Dubs with their blanket defence with the All Ireland champions having to live off placed balls from the boot of Dean Rock.
Donegal meanwhile, while they enjoyed far less scoring opportunities, were much more clinical. Jamie Brennan and Frank McGlynn added long range scores before the ever-reliable Ryan McHugh added a beautiful score from the sideline. The Dubs look rattled as Con O’Callaghan saw his shot at goal excellently saved by Patton. Ciarán Kilkenny pointed the rebound, his first score after four attempts. Then it was Stephen Cluxton’s turn to make a mistake with the kick-out, the ball sailing to Michael Murphy who pointed.
In a huge moment in the first half, a high ball was dropped into the Dublin square and with a ‘two-on-two’ situation, Jamie Brennan gathered possession but was not able to wrap his foot around the ball and sent it wide. The ball was immediately fed down the line and ended up in the hands of Niall Scully who weaved around the Donegal defence and finished past Patton. Another kick-out from Patton went astray and O’Callaghan again found himself with a goal opportunity, with the goalkeeper saving once more.
Another blow for Donegal game just after half-time when Niall Scully found space in the oppositions square and without any contest, netted his second goal. Dean Rock went on cruise control mode as Donegal coughed up possession in defence, gifting the Ballymun Kickhams man his sixth point in the game. Donegal responded with style, scoring three points through McHugh, Brennan and Michael Langan.
Brian Fenton tried his luck in front of goal but Patton caught the ball and although he stepped back behind the line, he managed to keep the ball out to deny Dublin the score. The substitutes began to show their worth for Dublin as Cormac Costello floated over two scores before Paul Flynn added another. Donegal had another opportunity for a goal but Michael Langan blasted over the bar instead. Two frees from Murphy narrowed the gap to just four points with four minutes to go in normal time. But Dublin expertly ran down the clock, much to the frustration of the Croke Park crowd. Eventually, Flynn grabbed his second to wrap up a convincing victory for Dublin as they head into a tough trip to Omagh to face Tyrone.
Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Cian O’Sullivan, Eoin Murchan; Brian Howard (0-2), James McCarthy (0-1), Jonny Cooper; Brian Fenton, Michael D. MacAuley; Niall Scully (2-0), Con O’Callaghan, Ciarán Kilkenny (0-1), Paul Mannion, Dean Rock (0-7, 5f, 1 45′), Jack McCaffrey.
Substitutions: Cormac Costello (0-2) for MacAuley (45) Kevin McManamon for Mannion (47) Paul Flynn (0-2) for Howard (53) Eric Lowndes for McCaffrey (61) Colm Basquel for O’Callaghan (70) Darren Daly for Fitzsimons (75)
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eoghan Bán Gallagher; Frank McGlynn (0-1), Paul Brennan, Ryan McHugh (0-2); Hugh McFadden, Leo McLoome; Eamon Doherty (0-1), Michael Langan (0-2), Ciarán Thompson (0-1); Odhrán Mac Niallais, Michael Murphy (0-6, 4f), Jamie Brennan (0-3).
Substitutions: Neil McGee for McGrath (HT) Daire O’Baoille for Mac Niallais (51) Cian Mulligan for Thompson (52) Caolan Ward for Doherty (57) Anthony Thompson for Brennan (61) Stephen McBrearty for Brennan (65)