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McEntee had haunted look of a man that had seen too much as Farrell seemed sheepish


Dublin manager Dessie Farrell and Meath’s Andy McEntee after the final whistle

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell and Meath’s Andy McEntee after the final whistle

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell and Meath’s Andy McEntee after the final whistle

We're running out of ways to quantify Dublin's authoritarian governance of the Leinster championship so here's some figures, for context.

The 21 points they beat Meath by on Saturday night in Croke Park was a record margin of victory for a match between the two counties, a single point more than the total by which Dublin won the 1955 Leinster final (5-12 to 0-7), when Kevin Heffernan famously bamboozled Meath's legendary full-back Paddy 'Hands' O'Brien with his movement out to midfield.

The 3-21 (30 points) they scored in this latest Leinster final mismatch is, through the last decade in which they've turned the competition into their own personal fiefdom, the largest score Dublin have hit in a provincial decider.

But only minimally so.

In 2017, Dublin scored 2-23 (29) against Kildare in the final. In 2014, they put 3-20 on Meath.

It is, however, their biggest margin of victory in a Leinster decider, eclipsing the 18 points they beat Laois by in 2018.

And yet, as a body of work, the 2020 Leinster championship doesn't even rank as their finest. At least not in the cold, hard metric of scoring.

Through their three matches, Dublin tallied 5-66 (81 points).

That ranks as just their sixth highest scoring tally through the ten Leinster campaigns, and five points a game shy of the 7-75 (96) they scored in 2018.

In total, they won their three games of the 2020 Leinster championship by 54 points.

Last year, that figure was 57 points. In 2015, the combined margins of their three wins was 59 points. In 2018, it was 60.


And yet, because of how they control matches now, how they squeeze their opposition into distraction and frustration, their dominance over the rest of the province has never felt more pronounced.

All the talk in the build-up to Saturday was about Meath needed to score goals to have any chance of ending Dublin's dictatorial reign.

And having hit 12 in their last two Championship matches, the seemed well-equipped to do so.

Early on, they had a couple of what might euphemistically be described as 'half chances'.

But the game was Dublin's eighth clean sheet in a row in the province since James Stafford scored one in Portlaoise in June 2018.

Afterwards, Andy McEntee wore the haunted look of a man who'd seen far, far too much.

To his credit, he stood and dutifully churned out basic assessments of what had happened on a cold and poignant November evening for the GAA.

But if we were looking for a moment of deep introspection, this wasn't it.

"It's hard for every team, we've just got to keep going at it," he said.

"Dublin do what they do and they have a very good system in place and they're bringing in new players and it doesn't seem to affect them.

"Yeah, it's difficult but that's the challenge that lies ahead of every other team in Leinster."

A couple of minutes in, McEntee excused himself, deciding either that he hadn't anything more to say or maybe that he would just rather not say it.

Dessie Farrell meanwhile, was almost sheepish about it all. This was a tricky one for Farrell.


His job at that moment was to talk up his team's performance to the point that the margin of victory and Dublin's degree of dominance could be rationalised.

But strictly no higher.

Mostly, what we wanted to know how it had come to this.

But Farrell is in his first year as Dublin manager and knows well that's there's no such thing as a sure thing any more.

He has an All-Ireland to win and if the fate of the rest of the province is an understandably hot topic just now, it's not exactly his concern.

"To be fair to them, I think they probably were slightly off," Farrell stressed. "I do believe they're a much better team than that.

"They've showed it in their last couple of Championship games, they were very unlucky in a number of their League games and they've been really competitive and they showed it against us.

"They may have just been off the boil tonight, caught us on a good night and sometimes that confidence, once it's sucked away, it can be very difficult to find your mojo or whatever.

"I'd put it down to a once off more than anything else."