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Ryan shines to lift Dubs

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Colm Cronin, Dublin, in action against William Egan, UCD. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Colm Cronin, Dublin, in action against William Egan, UCD. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Colm Cronin, Dublin, in action against William Egan, UCD. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

WE'VE no idea whether or not Anthony Daly invests much faith in omens but on both occasions that his Dublin hurlers won the Walsh Cup, in 2011 and 2013, they went on to claim national silverware (a League and Leinster title respectively) and contest All-Ireland semi-finals.

Last night in Parnell Park, they qualified for the semi-finals of this year's competition, beating UCD 2-20 to 2-15 and in doing so, set up a last four dual with Wexford next Sunday in Gorey (2.0).

Moreover, they were hungry and sprightly and wholly un-January-like and played with a shape and purpose of a team looking to continue where they ceased in 2013.

Fielding seven of the team that lost last year's All-Ireland semi-final to Cork, Dublin were hugely reliant on the Ballyboden St Enda's representatives in their attack.

Poise

Paul Ryan scored a hatful of 2-9 (1-8 from placed balls). Conal Keaney, lining out at full-forward, showed plenty of the poise and skill usually missing from this early part of the year and clipped four fine points.

Between them, they were the attacking centrepiece of the Dublin team, particularly in the first half with Ryan hitting six (five frees) and a goal (also from a free), the score that initially put distance between the teams.

Debutant Colm Cronin was fouled within goal-attempt range of UCD's goals in the 32nd minute and Ryan, naturally, went for it.

His shot was stopped by a UCD defender although it was deemed to have happened behind the line and Dublin went into a 1-10 to 0-8.

Indeed, Cronin showed encouraging flashes of his obvious potential, setting up two points, using the ball smartly and aggressively running at his man, Cork senior William Egan.

The first half was also notable for two fine saves from Dublin 'keeper Alan Nolan. First, the St Brigid's stopper repelled a dead-on drive from Domhnall Fox after Walter Walsh's set-up and Walsh himself was denied in the 12th minute.

Largely, UCD were kept afloat in the half by virtue of Jack Guiney's free-taking. The Wexford man hit six points, five frees, to leave the students 0-9 to 1-11 behind.

Momentum

Then, two major events within a minute of one another swung momentum away from – but subsequently back to – Dublin's favour.

Nolan mishandled a short-dropping shot from Cillian Buckley over his own line to narrow the gap to two points before Egan was sent off for a second yellow, this time for chopping down on Keaney, to reduce UCD's numbers to 14.

Dublin flirted with getting sucked into a tight game but Ryan smashed a second goal on 52 minutes and from there – and with Peter Kelly sweeping as the spare man – they kept UCD at a comfortable distance, despite a goal from substitute David Higgins.

On the theme of experimentation, Conor McCormack was busy in an unusual posting at centre-back, but leaked four points to Patrick Murphy.

And with Paul Schutte definitely out for Dublin's League opener against Galway and Niall Corcoran doubtful, both Jack Doughan and Cian O'Callaghan can both be happy with their evening's output at corner-back.


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