Leinster champions for the ninth time in a row, Dublin were made to work hard in the opening 35 minutes of Sunday’s final before hardly working in the second 35 as the Meath challenge wilted to the point that it became sad to watch.
It was the outcome we all expected but didn’t want as Dublin turned the screw in the final twenty minutes to run away from the Royals and come out with a 16-point win.
With Tyrone, Mayo, Galway and Monaghan all having lost so far and with Kerry looking leaky at the back, this has given us all more reason to believe that their fifth All-Ireland in a row might just be their handiest yet.
Donegal look like they could challenge Dublin given the form they are in and the quality they have going forward but realistically it’s a huge ask for them to topple the dominant Dubs.
When asked last week who he saw as Dublin’s biggest threat, Galway legend, Paraic Joyce, joked that it was themselves. Only, it wasn’t really a joke, it was truth talk and that was evident from the 20-minute cameo of Dean Rock in Sunday’s final.
The Dublin sharpshooter returned to action on Sunday having spent the last few months on the treatment table and this writer had been on the record before claiming it would be tough for Rock to force his way back into the side given the performances of Cormac Costello both from play and the dead ball.
However, Rock’s cameo yesterday (albeit Meath gave up) underlined the reason why Dublin’s biggest threat is themselves. If someone has an off-day, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s a substitute waiting in the wings who’s going to kick 0-4 and set-up a goal.
Rock entered the fray on the 59th minute in place of Brian Howard and his first port of call was to convert an easy free to stretch an already unassailable lead to ten points.
Two minutes later and Rock lays down a marker to Jim Gavin as he converts once again from virtually his first touch in open play.
The resulting kick-out is sent to the middle of the field where Brian Fenton can’t believe his luck as he attacks it uncontested. Fenton gathers and lays it off to Rock who has made his way over to the opposite wing to fire over his third point in a row less than three minutes after being introduced.
Five minutes later the goal finally arrives.
Dublin, again, easily retain possession from the Meath kick-out. The ball is worked forward towards Rock who finds himself in a bit of space near the touchline.
Before the ball reaches the Ballymun Kickhams man, he sees Con O’Callaghan bursting through the middle. Rock doesn’t think twice and lays on a perfectly weighted handpass for the Cuala man to run on to and fire home.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 23, 2019
Rock rounds off the afternoon with his fourth and Dublin’s final point of the day.
He shows all the traits of a sharpshooting corner-forward to take the pop pass from Paddy Andrews and instinctively fire over without even looking.
It must be said that Meath had long given up at this stage and Rock probably had the freedom of Croke Park upon being introduced.
However, that does not take away from the fact that these Dublin players see each other as their main threat. Before this season, it would have been inconceivable that Dean Rock wouldn’t be in the starting XV for the drive-for-five.
All of a sudden he gets injured and Costello looks like the able replacement. That is until Costello misses a 14-yard free while Rock plays a hand in 1-4 during a brief cameo.
What a lovely selection headache Jim Gavin has.