Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 18 November 2017

Ivory calls tune as slick Sky Blues coast to title

Dublin 2-18 Meath 1-11

Dublin's young footballers justified their lofty billing by winning this decider with a performance of maturity and class.

Sky Blues manager Dessie Farrell has moulded them into a unit that clearly understands the importance of team ethic and collective effort, but along the way they haven't sacrificed individual brilliance. The much-heralded Ciaran Kilkenny had a quiet match by his standards, but he had no shortage of team-mates who were ready and willing to prove they're also dazzlingly bright prospects.

Centre-forward Gavin Ivory finished with five points from play and was composed and classy in everything he did. He was ably assisted in Dublin's free-wheeling forward line by Cormac Costello and Scott Fulham, who both combined a voracious work ethic with clinical finishing.

The physicality of Patrick O'Higgins and footballing intelligence of Emmett O Conghaile in midfield was a potent cocktail, while the defence was a well-balanced unit with a couple of stand-out displays from John Small and Jack McCaffrey. Dublin had to be good yesterday because Meath were up for it and for a while suggested they might be capable of pulling off an upset.

When Brian McMahon smashed the ball past Dublin goalkeeper Ross O'Hanlon, it put Meath 1-5 to 0-5 ahead after a hugely entertaining first 20 minutes of brisk attacking football.

Dublin's response was emphatic. Kilkenny settled them down with a point and then the buzzing Fulham struck a crisp finish to the back of the net after being sent clear by Ivory.

Cathal Smith found a response for Meath but two fine points by the stylish O Conghaile gave Dublin a 1-9 to 1-6 half-time lead. They upped the ante even more in the second half as McCaffrey strode forward from wing-back to claim two impressive points that helped push his team five clear.

Dublin then struck for a second goal that effectively settled the issue as Costello guided the ball past Meath 'keeper Robert Burlingham.

Meath closed the gap to six points, but they never looked like getting the goal that might really bring them back into the match. And after they ran out of steam and ideas, Dublin disappeared out of sight down the home straight and finished the match with four unanswered points from Ivory (two), Costello and the lively Paul Mannion.

Cork are up next in the All-Ireland quarter-final for Farrell's team. The Rebels will have to be very good indeed to halt Dublin's onward march.

Scorers -- Dublin: G Ivory 0-6 (0-1 '45'), S Fulham, C Costello 1-2 each, J McCaffrey, E O'Conghaile, P Mannion, C Kilkenny (1f) 0-2 each Meath: B McMahon 1-3 (0-2f), A Forde, C O'Sullivan, W McGrath, C Finn, D Smith, C Smith, S Mattimoe, N Shorthall (0-1f) 0-1 each.

Dublin -- R O'Hanlon; G Hannigan, R McDaid, R Real; E Lowndes, J Small, J McCAffrey; P O'Higgins, E O'Conghaile; G Ivory, D Campbell, C Costello; S Fulham, C Kilkenny, P Mannion. Subs: S Carthy for D Campbell (47), E Archibald for S Fulham, E Boyne for E Lowndes (both 59), R Noonan for E O'Conghaile (61).

Meath -- R Burlingham; A Forde, B McConnon, O Fitzpatrick; C Finn, S Melia, D Smith; P Harnan, S McEntee; N Shorthall, B O'Brien, C O'Sullivan; B McMahon, C Smith, W McGrath. Subs: R Farrelly for C Smith (h-t), S Mattimoe fro N Shorthall (38), N Hannon for A Forde (39), O Sheridan for D Smith (47), S Sheridan for W McGrath (55).

Ref -- F Kelly (Longford).

Irish Independent

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