Dublin claim their eighth Leinster crown in nine years
Dublin have lifted the Delaney Cup for the eighth time in nine seasons after a second half power play saw them overcome Meath by 2-15 to 0-14 at GAA Headquarters this afternoon.
Mick O'Dowd's Meath deserve huge credit for a gutsy display and unearthed some possible chinks in Dublin's armour, especially in their full-back line which was tormented by Stephen Bray and Mickey Newman.
Dublin trailed by two points at the break but Jim Gavin had Ciaran Kilkenny, who ended the game with 34 possessions, and Paul Mannion, who scored 1-4, to thank for grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck in the second period to inspire the Dubs to yet another provincial success.
Dublin remain favourites for the All-Ireland but don't look like the unstoppable force that obliterated Kildare and Westmeath while Meath will fancy their chances in the qualifiers.
The Royals got off to a lightning start with Stephen Bray twice shrugging off Rory O’Carroll to score a brace.
Paul Mannion opened Dublin’s account with a fine left-footed score as they game got off to a promising opening.
It took four minutes for Dublin to find the net with the subtlety of Mannion setting up Paul Flynn to blast to the roof of the net.
Mick O’Dowd’s side were competitive, especially in the middle third, but poor shooting from frees and play was not aiding their chances.
The underdogs should really have had a goal in the 14th minute when Stephen Bray sent Damien Carroll in one-on-one with Stephen Cluxton but he blasted wide from a difficult angle.
Meath were punished by points from Diarmuid Connolly and the lively Mannion.
Mickey Newman finally found his range at the third time of asking with a free he earned himself.
Diarmuid Connolly nearly gave the blues the perfect reply but his shot was saved by the feet of Paddy O’Rourke although Stephen Cluxton did kick over the resultant 45.
Eamonn Wallace showed his exemplary pace to beat Johnny Cooper and fist over to make it 1-4 to 0-4 after 24 minutes.
Jack McCaffrey was harshly penalised for what looked like a legitimate shoulder and Mickey Newman made it a two point game.
Newman was continuing to find his feet and points from play and a free were followed by a second point from Wallace and the Royals were in front.
A fifth Newman point from well outside the Dublin 45 metre line and Meath led by 0-9 to 1-4 at the interval.
The Royals lead was completely eroded within two minutes of the restart with Bernard Brogan and Ciaran Kilkenny adding points for the reigning provincial champions.
A tremendous effort on his weaker left foot from Paul Flynn had the Dubs back in front by the 38th minute.
Mickey Newman equalised with his first free into Hill 16 but that point was immediately responded to by a fine point from Ciaran Kilkenny who was set up by the flying wing back combination of James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey.
Kilkenny’s third point of the half in the 41st minute doubled Dublin’s advantage.
Brian Meade sliced over his first point before Mickey Newman sold two beautiful dummies before kicking over with his left foot for the point if the game to restore parity.
Cluxton’s second free edged Gavin’s men in front on 45 minutes and then he was on-hand to deny Eamonn Wallace a goal two minutes later.
Paul Mannion’s free had Dublin two in front and they almost had a goal when sub Kevin McManamon sent Jack McCaffrey through but he blasted the ball against the crossbar.
Mannion got another from play to make it 1-12 to 0-12 with 16 minutes remaining.
Diarmuid Connolly had an effort cleared off the line before Stephen Bray had a shot saved by Bray who had easily shrugged off Ger Brennan.
Mickey Newman had a goal chance but opted to kick his eighth point of the afternoon but that was cancelled out by Cluxton’s third point of the afternoon.
Dublin had been knocking on the door and finally struck for their second goal on the hour mark after Paddy O’Rourke saved Kevin O'Brien’s effort but the ball fell for Paul Mannion to soccer to the net.
A sublime team score finished off by Dean Rock made it 2-14 to 0-13 with eight minutes remaining
Meath tried in vain to score the goal which would have gave them a chance and Dean Rock’s free three minutes from time was merely an insurance score.
Joe Sheridan, who was ineffective following his introduction, scored a consolation late on as Dublin secured a seven point win.