Dublin 3-31 Antrim 0-22
Dublin’s 3-31 scoreline in Navan was fitting because that was precisely what the clock read when they killed off Antrim to secure a Leinster SHC semi-final against Galway.
In a game that threw-in at 3pm, Cian O’Sullivan’s 31st minute goal left eight points between the teams and set Mattie Kenny’s men on their way to a surprisingly comfortable win.
This was supposedly a banana skin encounter for Dublin who, despite beating Antrim in the league, still finished lower than the Saffrons in the Division 1B table.
And for the first quarter it was tight and tense, the sides level on five occasions.
But when Dublin got going they quickly wore down an Antrim side competing in the MacCarthy Cup for the first time since 2015.
Dublin, in turn, had wiped out a 16-point deficit at one stage against Kilkenny at Croke Park just last Halloween, so clearly possess both talent and big game experience and brought it all to bear here.
Working the ball up through the lines with precise passing and powerful running, they picked Antrim apart and were led in scoring terms again by All Star nominee Donal Burke.
The free-taker sniped 0-11 with 0-5 of that haul coming from play while Ronan Hayes and Cian Boland, like O'Sullivan, managed to find the net.
All of Dublin’s midfielders and forwards, four of their subs and even full back Eoghan O’Donnell got on the scoresheet with the 2013 provincial winners possessing 13 different scorers in total.
An afternoon to inspire confidence then though a far trickier assignment awaits next weekend with a semi-final against Galway scheduled for Portlaoise on Saturday.
“Galway are in massive form at the moment,” said Kenny, a Galway native and former selector. “I’ve watched all their games and the range of scores they have, the way they’re moving the ball, they’re in top, top form.”
Dublin will travel with momentum at least after this 18-point win, even if Antrim did present a weaker challenge than anticipated. After losing to Dublin by eight points in the league, Antrim manager Darren Gleeson complained about his team only playing in patches.
They were out of this game by half-time despite a bright first quarter with Dublin outscoring them by 1-9 to 0-6 between the water break and half-time.
It was a straightforward journey from there to victory for Dublin who added goals from Hayes and Boland either side of the second water break.
Hayes's goal was well worked and owed everything to the industry of Conor Burke who burst through the centre of Antrim's defence before laying off to his right.
Dublin scored four of the game’s last five points with Antrim’s misery compounded by a 71st-minute straight red card dismissal for substitute Ryan McGarry who was alleged to have chopped at Burke with his hurl.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, E O'Donnell (0-1), C O'Callaghan; D Gray, L Rushe, J Madden; R McBride (0-2), C Burke (0-1); C Crummey (0-3), D Sutcliffe (0-3), D Burke (0-11, six frees); C O'Sullivan (1-2), R Hayes (1-3), C Boland (1-1).
Subs: J Malone for McBride, F Whitely (0-1) for Sutcliffe, O O'Rorke (0-1) for O'Sullivan (all 57); S Moran (0-1) for C Burke (60),; P Crummey (0-1) for C Crummey (63).
ANTRIM: R Elliott; D McMullan, G Walsh, S Rooney; E Campbell, P Burke, J Maskey; K Molloy (0-3), J McNaughton (0-1, free); M Bradley (0-1), N McManus (0-6), N McKenna; C Clarke (0-9, six frees, one 65), C Cunning (0-1), S Elliott.
Subs: C McCann (0-1) for S Elliott (27); D Nugent for McKenna , S Shannon for Bradley (both 48); C Johnson for Campbell, R McGarry for Maskey (both 57).
Referee: L Gordon (Galway).