Dublin roll over Down to book an early semi-final berth
Early goal proved a false Down for home side in Newry
Down’s Joe Murphy attempts to block Dublin’s Kevin McManamon during the Allianz Football League Division One game at Páirc Esler in Newry. Photograph: William Cherry/Inpho/Presseye
Down 1-7 Dublin 1-15
Nothing can stop them now, Dublin making it five wins from five and already reserving their place on the knock-out stage. In this sort of form a fourth successive Allianz Football League title is also looking increasingly like theirs to lose.
The expectations of Down presenting much of a challenge here were low, and so it proved. They raised a little more gallop than on previous outings but still found themselves well off the pace at the finish, and with five defeats in five, already reserving their place in the Division Two next season.
At least Down gave Dublin something to chase early on, or rather Dublin gave themselves something to chase – gifting Down a goal after five minutes. Donal O’Hare’s long-range shot fell into the hands of goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton, only Cluxton couldn’t keep his hands on it – and with that the ball fell softly into the net.
That was about as good as it got for Down. They lost captain Kevin McKernan to a black card just moments later, and while his replacement Joe Murphy fired over another score, Dublin suddenly woke up, or at least suddenly started destroying Down on their own kick-outs – Paul Flynn and Ciaran Kilkenny practically sending the ball straight back over the Down bar.
Then on 18 minutes Kevin McManamon made one of his trademark runs at goal, and while he’s initial pistol shot was blocked, Cormac Costello promptly reloaded the rebound, and with that Dublin were up - 1-4 to 1-2.
With that it become one-way traffic, Costello added two more frees, while McManamon and Kilkenny scored from play, and with that Dublin eased six points clear. Down got one back before the break thanks to O’Hare, their first score in 26 minutes, but Dublin still looked perfectly happy to be heading into the break 1-8 to 1-3 in front.
Nothing much about that changed in the second half, Dublin tacking on scores at will, winning by eight in the end to bring their five-game scoring tally to 6-66.
There were other positives for Dublin on the night: Michael Fitzsimons is looking increasingly comfortable at full back, alert and assertive in equal measure. Jonny Cooper didn’t put a foot wrong all night either.
Dublin could afford to lose Paul Flynn to a black card on 45 minutes and still cruise on. Paddy Andrews came off the bench and kicked a razor sharp point just before the hour mark and that certainly ended it as a contest.
Down did raise some mild cheer in the end, when two goal chances came off the woodwork, the first from Paul Devlin, and the second from Ger McGovern, in the space of two minutes, although by then they would only have counted as consolation scores.
Dublin will get a bigger test the next day, hosting Donegal in Croke Park on Saturday week, before finishing up in Roscommon: still, nothing can stop them now from being back in Croke Park for the semi-finals.
DOWN: M Cunningham; G Collins, G McGovern, D O’Hagan; J Flynn, A Carr, D O’Hanlon (0-1); P Turley, M McKay (0-1); C Maginn, R Mallon, K McKernan; C McGovern, D O’Hare (1-2, two frees), B O’Hagan.
Subs: J Murphy (0-2) for McKernan (6 mins, black card), P Devlin (0-1) for Mallon (48 mins), C Harrison for O’Hagan (51 mins), H Brown for McKay (56 mins).
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; D Byrne, M Fitzsimons, J Small; J McCarthy, P McMahon, J Cooper (0-1); B Fenton, S Carthy; P Flynn (0-2), D Connolly, C Kilkenny (0-2); C Costello (1-4, four frees), D Rock (0-3, one free, one 45), K McManamon (0-2).
Subs: S B Carthy for Flynn (44 mins, black card), E Lowndes for Carthy, P Andrews (0-1) for McManamon (both 46 mins), D Bastic for Fenton (50 mins), T Brady for Costello (55 mins), D Daly for Cooper (65 mins).
Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary)