Delight for Farrell after hat-trick hero Costello sees Dublin lord it over Royals
THEY haven't been given the same billing as last year's crop but on this evidence, Dessie Farrell's 2012 Dublin minors looked every bit the real deal when dismissing Meath yesterday.
And it was one of last year's stars that drove the Dubs to success. A remarkable Cormac Costello hat-trick steered Dublin to their second successive Leinster title at this grade as Meath's challenge failed to get off the ground.
In truth, Dublin were out of sight at half-time when they had opened up a 1-10 to 0-5 lead thanks to Costello's first goal. His opener had a large slice of luck about it as his point attempt evaded Jack Hannigan and dropped under the crossbar to put the young Dubs into a nine- point lead.
Dublin might have goaled earlier, but Niall Scully saw his penalty saved after he had been fouled by Ruairi O Coilean. But more chances would come for the Dubs, who consistently tore through the heart of Meath's defence with the hard running of Gavin Burke and Niall Walsh causing all sorts of problems.
For their part, the Royals could make little stick up front despite the best efforts of Fiachra Ward and Barry Dardis as Meath's ploy of dropping long balls on top of their full-forwards failed to pay off. Dublin's full-back line, and in particular captain David Byrne, were superb as they conceded just three points from play in the opening half hour.
There was a change of referee at half-time with Anthony Nolan replacing the injured Damien Brazil, but there was little change in the flow of traffic going towards Meath's goal.
Meath scored first through a Ward free but Costello's second goal came soon afterwards and it was a thing of beauty. He gathered the ball under the Hogan Stand and weaved his way past Brian Power before slotting calmly to the net with 34 minutes gone.
Four minutes later, he found the net again, this time profiting from some good work from the impressive Conor McHugh, who would finish with four points to his name.
That goal signalled Meath's best passage of play as Dublin took their foot off the gas. Cillian O'Sullivan hit the roof of the net with a classy finish.
Jason Daley and Ward followed up with points but normal service was soon resumed as the day belonged to Dublin and, in particular, Costello.
"He was great, he's very gifted," Farrell said. "He carries himself very well which is important for a fella who has had the accolades he has had at this stage of his young career. It doesn't seem to faze him. We are just hoping he stays fit and healthy."
Dublin face beaten Ulster finalists Monaghan in the quarter-final, while Meath take on Tyrone, but Farrell insists his side have plenty of room for improvement.
"It wasn't pretty at times. There is huge room for improvement and there is plenty for us to get our teeth into," he said.
"I thought at times we over-elaborated up front. We took too much out of things. There were one or two times in defence where we didn't cover ourselves in glory, but definitely we died a little bit in midfield during the second half. They started to get a bit of a grip.
"But it is very difficult to sustain that type of a performance for 60 minutes. Against better opposition, because Meath had an off day, the next day, we mightn't get away with switching on and off like we did."
SCORERS -- Dublin: C Costello 3-4 (1f), C McHugh 0-4 (1f), G Burke 0-3, N Walsh 0-2, Shane Cunningham, N Scully, R Gaughan, S Carthy ('45) 0-1 each. Meath: F Ward 0-6 (5f), C O'Sullivan 1-0, P Kennelly, A Flanagan, J Daley, B Dardis, S Coogan 0-1 each.
Dublin: -- L Molloy; E Mullan, D Byrne, R McGowan; M MacDonncha, C Mulally, E Lowndes; Stephen Cunningham, S Carthy; G Burke, N Scully, N Walsh; C McHugh, C Costello, R Gaughan. Subs: D Gormley for Walsh (45), Shane Cunningham for Gaughan (51), D Campbell for McHugh
(57), M Deegan for Costello (58), B Bentley for Carthy (60).
Meath -- J Hannigan; D Smyth, B Power, S Gallagher; P Kennelly, P Harnan, R O Coileain; S McEntee, A Flanagan; C O'Sullivan, J Daley, J McEntee; S Coogan, B Dardis, F Ward. Subs: C Carton for Kennelly, J O'Malley for Smyth (31), P Kennelly for Coogan (31), H Rooney for P Harnan (43), C Gillespie for O'Coileain (56)
REF -- D Brazil (Offaly) injured half-time, replaced by A Nolan (Wicklow)