Saturday 29 April 2017

Byrne leads rampant Dubs to historic four-in-a-row

Dublin 2-14 Offaly 0-8

Declan Monaghan of Dublin makes a full-length dives to try to block down the kick of Offaly defender Adam Mahon during last night’s EirGrid Leinster U-21 FC final in Portlaoise. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Declan Monaghan of Dublin makes a full-length dives to try to block down the kick of Offaly defender Adam Mahon during last night’s EirGrid Leinster U-21 FC final in Portlaoise. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Frank Roche

Frank Roche

Con O'Callaghan didn't shoot the lights out this time. Colm Basquel didn't even play. And still Dublin finished with 12 points to spare at O'Moore Park.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the chasm in standards between Dublin football and the rest - not just at senior level but also here as they became the first county to win four consecutive Leinster U-21 titles.

Colm Doyle of Offaly in action against Declan Monaghan of Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Colm Doyle of Offaly in action against Declan Monaghan of Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Dessie Farrell has been manager for all four. Here, instead of being reliant on any individual masterclass, he had many players who delivered cameos of excellence.

These included Eoin Murchan in defence, midfield duo Andrew Foley and Brian Howard, man of the match Aaron Byrne, top-scorer Tom Fox with 1-2 from play, and O'Callaghan too - albeit more as selfless link-man than executioner-in-chief.

Offaly were brave to a fault and occasionally inspired in the first half but still trailed by 0-10 to 0-5 at the break, having played with the elements.

Then Mont Blanc became Everest when O'Callaghan tapped over his second free and followed up with a clever lay-off for Fox to clip home a goal.

Dan O'Brien of Dublin in action against David Dempsey of Offaly. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Dan O'Brien of Dublin in action against David Dempsey of Offaly. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Stretched

Glen O'Reilly's 40-yard effort stretched the lead into double-digits before they entered a 16-minute scoring lull. Offaly landed three points in this period but needed so much more … then Dublin stirred themselves for one final flourish, O'Callaghan pointing off either foot before sub Stephen Smith added a late goal.

Offaly fans were the more vocal in a crowd of 2,095. Initially, at least, Shane Tierney gave them reason to cheer by arcing over three outrageously good points. Yet his efforts did little more than keep Offaly within vague touch.

Then Murchan wandered up from defence to score before O'Callaghan belatedly opened his account with a tap-over free in injury-time.

That left Dublin ahead by double-scores, their success based on the cohesion of their counter-attacks, the pressure being exerted on the opposing kickout - plus Offaly's wasteful eight wides with the wind.

Adam Mahon of Offaly battles with Aaron Byrne of Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Adam Mahon of Offaly battles with Aaron Byrne of Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

In truth, a storming comeback never appeared remotely likely.

SCORERS - Dublin: T Fox 1-2, S Smith 1-0, A Byrne (1 '45'), C O'Callaghan (2f) 0-4 each, G O'Reilly 0-2, C Sallier, E Murchan 0-1 each. Offaly: S Tierney 0-4 (1f), J Hayes 0-3 (2f), R McEvoy 0-1.

DUBLIN - E Comerford; D Monaghan, S McMahon, D Byrne; E Murchan, C O'Shea, C Murphy; B Howard, A Foley; T Fox, D O'Brien, A Byrne; C Sallier, C O'Callaghan, G O'Reilly. Subs: S Smith for Sallier (41), S Bugler for O'Brien (41), D Gavin for Fox (48), A Elliot for O'Reilly (51), A McGowan for Monaghan (56).

OFFALY - B Rohan; C Horan, D Dempsey, C Doyle; A Mahon, PJ Daly, J Egan; J Lalor, J Hayes; C Farrell, R McEvoy, J Walsh; R McNamee, P Dunican, S Tierney. Subs: K Higgins for Daly (41), J Clancy for Dunican (49), C Stewart for Egan (62).

REF - D Hickey (Carlow).

Chris Sallier of Dublin takes on Clint Horan and Patrick Dunican of Offaly, Co Laois. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Chris Sallier of Dublin takes on Clint Horan and Patrick Dunican of Offaly, Co Laois. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

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