The seagulls were back in force in Croke Park on Saturday and at different stages during Saturday’s disappointing contest they circled over Croke Park and over the press box in the upper tier.
It was a scene reminiscent of the 1963 thriller/horror, The Birds. All that was missing was Alfred Hitchcock, a bit of tension and some eerie music.
All we got was that Dubliners signature tune In the Rare Auld Times, and those who might have been hoping for a repeat of one of those legendary games with Cork in the days of old were left disappointed on Saturday.
Just over 50,000 fans attended, although it’s hard to put a number on how many of those were made up of Dublin and Cork fans.
Cork, in fairness, were within three points of Dublin at the break, but they needed goals. Goals bring on the noise and Derry brought on the noise in the previous game as they tore through the Clare defence.
Cork didn’t allow Dublin that same space. Their job, of course, was made all the easier by the absence of Dublin marquee forward Con O’Callaghan, one of two players forced to cry off with injury along with vice captain James McCarthy.
Keeping a clean sheet was a job well done, but the story-teller was a poor third quarter from the Rebels.
Niall Scully, back in the starting fifteen, showed his industry to win two early frees after the break which Dublin’s all-time record scorer Dean Rock put away with the minimum fuss.
Another score off the deadball, along with a point from Fenton, moved them into double figures by the 48th minute.
At that moment the cameras zoomed in on Roy Keane, the former Irish international and Manchester United captain, watching the game with a group of friends in the confines of the corporate box.
He didn’t seem one bit moved by the fuss and could afford a wry smile as Hill 16 gave him a typical Dublin welcome.
It was a light moment on another tough afternoon for the Rebels who, although cutting the gap back to seven points following back-to-back frees from Cathal O’Mahony, never looked like catching their opponents.
It was a far cry from the 2010 semi-final when Cork came from eight points down to pip Dublin at the post by a solitary point.
There was no such triumph for them this time as Dublin closed out the game with further points from Aaron Byrne, Ciaran Kilkenny and two converted frees from Rock.
They even had the luxury of bringing on this year’s Dublin hurling captain Eoghan O’Donnell who, in his brief cameo off the bench, made one nice run up the field.
O’Donnell was initially brought in as cover for David Byrne who had been recovering from an ACL injury.
In time he may well fill the breach left by Mick Fitzsimons and Jonny Cooper who at this stage are in the twilight of their careers.
Fitzsimons, a survivor of that defeat to Cork, was captain of Dublin on Saturday, an accolade deserving of a player who since 2010 has made the semi-finals of the All-Ireland in every year.
He was detailed to mark Brian Hurley and in the early stages the Castlehaven man got the better of Fitzsimons with two impressive back-to-back scores to reduce Dublin’s deficit to the bare minimum at the mid-way stage of the first half.
But Cooper’s patient probing from the centre half back position saw Dublin slowly get back on top, with a Kilkenny injury-time point leaving them up by three points at the break.
And with Fenton popping up with two fine points after half-time, Dublin gradually began to pull away.
In the words of Micheàl Murcheartaigh, ‘Dublin played with the wind in the first half and with the ball in the second half’ as Cork struggled to claw back the deficit following a number of bad wides.
They didn’t disgrace themselves on the day, but equally they have a long way to go before they can eat at the top table.
Scorers: Dublin - D Rock 0-9 (8f, 1 m),C Kilkenny 0-3, B Fenton, L Gannon 0-2, C Costello, T Lahiff , P Small S,Bugler, A Byrne 0-1 each; Cork - S Sherlock (2f, 1m),C O’Mahony (2f) 0-3 each, B Hurley 0-2, E McSweeney, J O’Rourke 0-1 each.
Dublin: E Comerford; L Gannon, E Murchan, M Fitzsimons; J Cooper, B Howard, J Small; B Fenton, T Lahiff; N Scully, S Bugler C Kilkenny; C Costello, D Rock, P Small. Subs: L O’Dell for Bugler (52), C Murphy for Cooper (56), A Byrne for P Small (60), E O’Donnell for Murchan (68), D Byrne for J Small (69).
Cork: M Martin; S Powter, M Shanley, K O’Donovan; M Taylor, R Maguire, J Cooper; I Maguire, C O’Callaghan; P Ring, E McSweeney, J O’Rourke;, B Hurley, S Sherlock, C O’Mahony. Subs; D Dineen for McSweeney (49), S Meehan for Ring (49), B Hayes for Sherlock (53), C Kelly for Cooper (55), B Murphy for O’Callaghan (69).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)