Monday 22 January 2018

Dublin on another level as McHugh destroys Rossies

Dublin 1-21 Roscommon 3-6, All-Ireland under 21 FC final

The Dublin players celebrate after yesterday's All-Ireland U21 final victory over Roscommon in O'Connor Park
The Dublin players celebrate after yesterday's All-Ireland U21 final victory over Roscommon in O'Connor Park
Roscommon's Michael Gunning under pressure from Dublin's Ross McGowan
Dublin's Cormac Costello in action against Roscommon's Niall McInerney, left, and Thomas Featherston
Roscommon's Colm Lavin passes the ball around Dublin's Niall Scully
Dublin's Conor McHugh is closed down by Roscommon's Seán Mullooly, left, and David Murray
A dejected Thomas Corcoran, Roscommon, after the game

Dublin captured a third title in five years when claiming a surprisingly emphatic victory over Roscommon at Tullamore yesterday.

Losing a national decider brings plenty of pain and Roscommon departed from O'Connor Park loaded with regret. Roscommon's despair scarcely bothered Dublin, though, as Dessie Farrell's polished team went so far in front they could afford to leak three goals in four second-half minutes and still eventually win by a nine-point margin.

Thousands of enthusiastic Roscommon fans flocked to the midlands venue and the expectancy levels pinned on the Rossies' shoulders were huge. It showed initially as Dublin were ready, willing, and able to pounce. Dublin were devastating, dismissing Roscommon's challenge in blistering fashion.

It was a scary and sobering opening period for Roscommon, who were outclassed for the majority of a first half that belonged to Dublin's Conor McHugh. From an early stage it was evident that Dublin would be enterprising and efficient. Roscommon were struggling to find the answers.

Dublin's first six shots went over and that had them 0-6 to 0-1 ahead following 10 majestic minutes of football. Roscommon were flummoxed by the sheer speed of Dublin, who were attacking them from every imaginable angle.

On a rare Roscommon trip into Dublin territory, the Connacht champions' fluffed their lines, squandering a goal chance that would have offered a drop of hope. Though starved of possession Donie Smith was game and the Roscommon talisman was fouled in the square after 13 minutes. David Byrne was subsequently black-carded for the indiscretion, but from the resultant penalty Smith's effort lacked power and Lorcan Molloy saved easily.

Suddenly, the gradient had steepened again for Roscommon and by the time the interval rolled around, Nigel Dineen's charges trailed by a staggering 0-14 to 0-1. Dublin's mixture of pace and purpose had Roscommon in bother all over the field and the statistics confirmed that.

From 17 opportunities Dublin took 14 with Niall Scully, Paul Mannion, Cormac Costello, and McHugh potent. McHugh rifled four from play invariably choosing the correct option, while Mannion and Costello were excellent too.

After the restart Roscommon were simply scrambling around trying to put a semblance of respectability on the scoreboard. It had turned into one of those brutal and unforgiving afternoons when their momentum had been shredded by a superior force.

Dublin reeled off 1-3 without reply, including a splendid McHugh goal which concluded a gorgeous move involving Mannion and Costello. What happened next was truly bizarre as Roscommon bagged 3-1 on the spin. Diarmuid Murtagh palmed two goals on 37 and 41 minutes either side of a Kieran Kilcline major as Roscommon trimmed the deficit to 1-17 to 3-2.

Despite Roscommon's flurry of goals, Dublin had inflicted too much damage. Late scores from McHugh, McCaffrey, Mannion, and substitute Shane Cunningham sealed the deal as Roscommon were never in serious contention. That hurt them and Dublin gleefully celebrated a satisfying success.

Scorers – Dublin: C McHugh 1-6, P Mannion 0-8 (5fs, 1 '45'), C Costello 0-4 (2fs), N Scully, J McCaffrey, S Cunningham 0-1 each. Roscommon: D Murtagh 2-3 (2f), K Kilcline 1-0, U Harney 0-2, E Smith 0-1.

Dublin: L Molloy; R McGowan, D Byrne, R McDaid; C Mullally, J Small, J McCaffrey; P O'Higgins, B Fenton; S Boland, C McHugh, E Lowndes; P Mannion, C Costello, N Scully. Subs: E O Conghaile for Byrne (15, black card), G Hannigan for Boland (45), G Ivory for O'Higgins (46), S Cunningham for Costello (49), N Walsh for Mannion (60).

Roscommon: C Lavin; C Kenny, S Mullooly, D Murray; R Daly, J McManus, C Daly; U Harney, T Corcoran; K Kilcline, M Healy, E Smith; D Murtagh, M Nally, D Smith. Subs: M Gunning for Nally (23), T Featherston for Kenny (25), N McInerney for C Daly (30), A Gleeson for Gunning (30), S Flynn for R Daly (51), S Killoran for Healy (59).

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)

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