Dublin slip seamlessly into gear as they dispatch Roscommon

All-Ireland champions instantly find their groove on the road in Division 1 opener

Roscommon’s Eddie Nolan is surrounded by Dublin players during his side’s Division 1 defeat. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Roscommon’s Eddie Nolan is surrounded by Dublin players during his side’s Division 1 defeat. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Dublin 1-22 Roscommon 0-16

A new season and the All-Ireland champions remain light years ahead. In the 74th minute, Cormac Costello elected to fire his third penalty of the game over Colm Lavin’ goal, bringing his haul in Douglas Hyde country to 1-13. It was comfortable and even if Dublin were in cruise mode, they showed that the familiar stuff is all there: the sharpness, the brisk sense of purpose and the rapacious hunger with which they have redesigned the historical shareholding of Gaelic football.

By then, this contest had long lapsed into a training contest, with the exchanges dying down even as Ciaran Kilkenny employed the lung capacity that few can match to demand more of himself, engineering a series of slick Dublin points when he sensed the collective effort waning.

We learned very little new about Dublin here but opposition managers will still spend the week scanning the video in the hope of inspiration. They may note that when they are run at, the Dubs defence aren’t shy about fouling. They coughed up 0-8 in frees to their hosts here and were smart about the dispersal and location of their fouls.

Eager to exploit the clear aerial advantage they enjoyed over Roscommon, they pressed Lavin’s kick out with audacious brazenness and trusting that they wouldn’t be caught on over the top breaks. There was also a notable slowdown in the scoring rate, just 0-3 between half time and the second water break. Apart from once, it was business as usual.

Cormac Costello scores from the spot during Dublin’s win over Roscommon. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Cormac Costello scores from the spot during Dublin’s win over Roscommon. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The defining problems began for Roscommon after 10 minutes, when Dublin used a Costello free to establish a 0-4 to 0-3 lead and also, more worryingly, to organise their press. After the kick-out, Brian Fenton claimed a mark in a sequence which should provide a golden rule in the playbook of all other managers this summer: Wherever Fenton Is Standing, Kick The Ball Somewhere Else.

By the time the water-break came, after 18 minutes, Dublin had added a further 1-4, the penalty coming when Brian Stack hauled down Con O’Callaghan, who was through on goal, earning himself a black card in the process. Costello, in the zone, converted.

The compelling thing about Dublin is that it’s impossible to tell who is going to hurt you on the score board. O’Callaghan has had an electrifying impact on All-Ireland finals: here, he cheerfully slipped into a yeoman roll. Niall Scully floated around the wings to play provider, James McCarthy was relocated to right half back and seemed content to use the afternoon in the west to fine-tune his hunger for chasing down gamboling Roscommon fliers.

Fenton didn’t look at the posts in the first half. Instead, the scoreboard was kept ticking by a superlative show of efficiency by Costello. Tom Lahiff and Dara Mullins were among the late changes: both scored as the Dubs trundled off with a 1-12 to 0-9 lead.

And Roscommon played some fine football in that first half, with both Murtaghs striking gorgeous scores from play and Niall Daly breaking forward to float one on the breeze. At times, their scrambling defence forced heartening turnovers, twice smothering the menacing Kilkenny as he tried to duck and weave his way through for goal.

Enda Smith carries with Cormac Costello in pursuit in Roscommon’s defeat to Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inopho
Enda Smith carries with Cormac Costello in pursuit in Roscommon’s defeat to Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inopho

They had one golden goal chance. Dublin’s press on the Roscommon kick out was impudently high, with their fullback line pressing up to their own 50 as they compressed the options. Enda Smith flicked on the break and suddenly the yellow shirts were in jailbreak mode: the final pass from Ciaran to Murtagh forced Diarmuid to stretch a little as he palmed the ball into a gaping net: he hit the woodwork and that was that.

Dublin spurned a dubious second penalty chance just after half time, Fergal Lennon black carded for hauling down Dara Mullin and Costello hitting the post with his strike. Two Smith frees brought Roscommon into contention but then they fired three wides as the half meandered towards an inevitable Dublin win.

Because Roscommon had little choice but to concede the short kick out to Dublin, it was impossible to tell how their kick out might operate under the heat Kerry will try to exert next week. Each of their players looked so comfortable; sharp in possession, pulling and dragging the Ros’ man markers out of shape and rarely making bad choices - just three wides were registered over the 74 minutes.

Roscommon continued to chip away at the scoreboard, with Enda Smith hurtling into traffic before supplying Ciaran Murtagh for two nicely taken late scores and Eddie Nolan also bursting through. David Murray was exceptional throughout an unflagging defensive effort.

But Dublin slipped soundlessly out of sight. Roscommon couldn’t replicate that first half goal chance and like many teams over the past decade found themselves chasing shadows in the sunshine by the time the game wound down.

Show’s on the road again.

Roscommon: 1 C Lavin; 2 D Murray, 3 F Lennon, 4 G Patterson; 5 C Hussey, N Daly (0-1), 7 B Stack, 8 E Nolan (0-1), 9 S Killoran; 10 N Kilroy, 11 C Cregg, 12 E Smith (0-1); 13 C Murtagh (0-6, 2 frees), 14 D Smith (0-6, 5 frees), 15 D Murtagh (0-1). Substitutes: 25 C Devanney for 10 N Kilroy (half time), C McKeon for 11 C Cregg (41), 19 C Daly for 7 B Stack (46 mins), 23 C Cox for 15 D Murtagh (50 mins), 17 D Neary for 3 D Neary (50 mins), 24 H Darcy for 9 S Killoran (59 mins), 18 R Hughes for 19 C Daly (65 mins).

Dublin: 16 M Shiel: 5 E Murchan, 3 D Byrne, 23 S McMahon; 9 J McCarthy, 6 J Small, 24 D Mullin (0-1); 8 B Fenton (0-1), 19 T Lahiff (0-1); 10 N Scully, 14 C O’Callaghan; 7 R McDaid; 11 Kilkenny (0-4, 1 mark), 13 P Small (0-2), C Costello (1-13, 2 pens, 8 frees, 1 mark). Substitutes: 2 M Fitzsimons for 24 D Mullins (50 mins)17 C Basquel for 23 S McMahon (50 mins) 21 C McHugh for P Small (56 mins), 26 P O’Ciofagh Bryne for Lahiff (56 mins), 20 E Lowndes for 9 J McCarthy (65 mins), 4 R Basquel for 14 C O’Callaghan (65 mins), 22 P McMahon for 5 E Murchan (67 mins).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).

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