After a patchy Allianz Football League campaign to date, Dublin erupted in the final against Cork and laid waste to opponents, who had up until the weekend felt good about their apparently rehabilitated prospects.
A year ago in the semi-finals Dublin pulled off the coup of coming back from 10 down to win by seven and in the process rattle Cork’s confidence. This time around they dispensed with the dramatics and administered a steady beating, the full impact of which was slightly diluted by two second-half goals.
The winners celebrated the county’s first three-in-a-row league title sequence after a strong display of dynamic running, purposeful attacks and vigilant defence. Maybe it would have been different if Brian Hurley’s third-minute flick of a dropping ball hadn’t bounced just wide but thereafter Cork were beaten all ends up.
Both teams had dabbled in the preventative arts of defensive alignments during the season but this turned out to be a high-scoring match - in one direction, anyway - with plenty of space uncovered by Dublin’s quick movement and tireless support.
Cork struggled to keep up. The fluid system of deploying hard running players to drop back and stream forward as required had been effective up to this point but their movement was too slow and lacking the dynamism of their opponents.
The result was that build-up from the back was slow and laboured and the final ball into their previously outstanding two-man full-forward line of Colm O'Neill and Brian Hurley never unlocked a tight marking Dublin defence where Rory O'Carroll and Jonny Cooper kept tabs on the Cork danger men.
O'Carroll had to be replaced after half an hour - an unspecified "soft tissue injury" - but after a rocky start Michael Fitzsimons got to grips with O'Neill and settled well.
The scoring burden was nicely spread around the Dublin attack, in which Tomás Brady started in place of Paul Flynn, whose groin strain was deemed not worth risking. Dean Rock's free taking was impeccable and he threw in three points from play whereas Diarmuid Connolly - having survived an early clatter from what looked like Jamie O'Sulllivan's elbow, which may attract the interest of the CCCC - distributed with digital precision and Ciarán Kilkenny gave his best display since returning from long-term injury.
It’s hard to know where to start in the litany of Cork’s shortcomings. The team had looked to have improved during the, carving out good results with a more solid defensive structure and rapier attacking potential on the inside line.
They laboured to get free of Dublin's high pressing tactics and unable to stream forward at any pace likely to trouble their opponents, turned over possession at far too generous a rate to give themselves a chance. Mark Collins, who had been so resourceful as a link man between defence and attack, had his effectiveness drastically reduced and the net effect of his roving for most of the match was to invite Philip McMahon up the field and within range to kick a point and a couple of wides.
Cian O'Sullivan's restoration to centre back was a sufficient success to look like a championship deployment, especially with Denis Bastick and the rookie Brian Fenton confirming new options at centrefield in the a
Dublin were out of the blocks quickly, 0-5 to nil ahead within 13 minutes and apart from three quick frees leading up to the half-hour mark - the only time all afternoon Cork managed to put any scoring sequence together - which reduced the margin to three, 0-4 to 0-7, there was never any glimmer of a comeback.
By half-time the margin was out to seven, 1-9 to 0-5 - the critical score a well taken penalty by Connolly after Brady had been taken down by Michael Shields. Cork had still to score from play.
The second half started where the first had left off - badly. John O’Rourke was taken off with a damaged AC joint after falling on his shoulder and replacement Daniel Goulding crashed a bobbing ball off Dublin’s crossbar after Hurley had got a hand to it.
The woodwork then saved Cork after TG4’s Man of the Match Jack McCaffrey’s turbo-heeled raid down the right culminated in a shot on goal. The Dublin wing back had the presence of mind to make himself available for a quick recycle and kicked a point.
It was the first of six unanswered points that established a 13-point lead, 1-15 to 0-5.
In the 48th minute Cork’s first score from play arrived - a goal from Collins after a strong run by Hurley that appeared to deceive Stephen Cluxton in the Dublin goal.
From then on the match settled into an unremarkable pattern of score swapping. There were some fine points from Dublin by Kilkenny and replacement Paddy Andrews after O’Sullivan and McCaffrey had opened up the Cork defence.
The final score came when Cork replacement Daniel Goulding got on the end of a move to scramble the team’s second goal.
Dublin have restated their credentials after a fitful league and Cork have seven presumably uncomfortable weeks of introspection before the championship swings into action.
DUBLIN: 1 Stephen Cluxton; 2 Philly McMahon (0-1), 3 Rory O'Carroll, 4 Jonny Cooper; 5 James McCarthy, 6 Cian O'Sullivan, 7 Jack McCaffrey (0-1); 8 Denis Bastick, 9 Brian Fenton; 18 Tomás Brady (0-1), 11 Ciarán Kilkenny (0-3), 12 Diarmuid Connolly (1-0, 1-0 pen); 13 Dean Rock (0-10, seven frees), 14 Kevin McManamon (0-1), 15 Bernard Brogan (0-2). Subs: 23 Michael Fitzsimons for O'Carroll (26 mins), 17 Paddy Andrews (0-2) for Brady (46 mins), 24 Emmet Ó Conghaile for Bastick (55 mins), 20 Cormac Costello for Connolly (58 mins), 26 John Small for McMahon ( 62 mins), 21 Darren Daly for Fenton (64 mins).
CORK: 1 Ken O'Halloran; 4 James Loughrey, 3 Michael Shields, 18 Noel Galvin; 8 Eoin Cadogan, 5 Jamie O'Sullivan, 7 Tomás Clancy; 6 Mark Dorman, 9 Fintan Goold; 10 Kevin O'Driscoll, 11 John O'Rourke, 12 Colm O'Driscoll; 15 Brian Hurley (0-1, free), 13 Colm O'Neill (0-6, four frees, one 45), 14 Mark Collins (1-0). Subs: 22 Paul Kerrigan for Dorman (27 mins), 21 Daniel Goulding (1-0) for O'Rourke (36 mins), 25 Barry O'Driscoll for C O'Driscoll ( 50 mins), 23 Donal Óg Hodnett for O'Sullivan ( 52 mins), 24 John Hayes for Collins ( 58 mins), 19 Stephen Cronin for Galvin (64 mins).
Referee: Pádraig Hughes (Armagh)