Brogan provides spark for Dublin in dour spectacle
When Gaelic football is bad, it can be toxic, and here we saw it at its inglorious worst.
The excitement generated by wins for both teams in the opening round quickly evaporated and the void was filled by a plague on the senses, the game's only saving grace being a final scoring spurt from Dublin, inspired by substitute Bernard Brogan.
On a night crying out for some quality, Brogan arrived like a man on a mission to save the game's honour. He came on in the second half and levelled the sides at 0-7 apiece with a 53rd-minute free. The previous 10 minutes had been scoreless as had 15 minutes of a hideous first half. On the hour a rare display of vision and creativity from Brogan set up Brendan McManamon for a good score that nudged the home team in front.
It opened the door finally and let in some light. Darragh Nelson came up the field and kicked a good point and by then the winning line was in sight and Dublin had found something approaching second gear. Kevin McManamon broke through a porous defence for a fine clinching goal five minutes from the end and Brogan added one from play. All over.
If Dublin were poor for most of the match, Derry's second-half showing dipped alarmingly as they managed only one point. Last year they won by five points at Parnell Park but one of their stars, Paddy Bradley, was absent last night and sorely missed. His brother Eoin was another absentee, suspended and perhaps feeling the sting of what looks like a tougher stance on discipline by the GAA.
Dublin, still without several key players, will be happy with another win, although there will have to be reservations about the performance up to Brogan's introduction. Their game plan of stacking their defence and then attacking en masse had limited success and did little for the game's aesthetics. Tiernan Diamond, named in the full-forward line, fulfilled a roving role but he he did not come out for the second half.
James Brogan had a good goal chance in the 19th minute after an excellent intervention by Michael McAuley but the shot dribbled wide. Alan Hubban also had strong claims for a penalty overruled. But scores were hard to come by and the first half frankly stank.
Dublin led for most of the first quarter and opened a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage, with good scores from play from both midfielders, Eamonn Fennell and Ross McConnell.
But sloppy defending gifted Derry a string of frees, shared by James Kielt and Mark Lynch. A Kielt free in the 20th minute put Derry in front for the first time and they led 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.
Scorers -- Dublin: K McManamon 1-1, B Brogan 0-3 (2f), E Fennell 0-2, B Kelly, B McManamon, M McAuley, R McConnell, D Nelson 0-1 each. Derry: J Kielt 0-4 (3f), M Lynch 0-2 (2f), A McLaughlin 0-1
Dublin: M Savage; P Conlon, R O'Carroll, M Fitzsimons; P Griffin, C O'Sullivan, J Brogan; E Fennell, R McConnell; A Hubbard, M MacAuley, K Bonner; T Diamond, B Kelly, K McManamon. Subs: B McManamon for Diamond and D Nelson for Brogan (both h-t), D Kelly for Hubbard (48), B Brogan for B Kelly (51), P Casey for K McManamon (70)
Derry: B Gillis; B Og McAlary, G O'Kane, D McBride; C Kielt, M Lynch, L Hinphey; F Doherty, Patsy Bradley; J Diver, J Kielt, A McCartney; E Lynn, C O'Boyle, A McLaughlin. Subs: M McGoldrick for McAlary (22), M Craig for McCartney (30), S Bradley for Lynn (40), B Mullan for O'Boyle (48), I Moore for Bradley (52)
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)