Sunday 25 February 2018

We saw this kind of performance coming – Farrell


Dublin players gather for a 'selfie' as they celebrate with the cup
Dublin players gather for a 'selfie' as they celebrate with the cup
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
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

THE cheers and the whoops of delight rang out loud and clear from behind the locked door of the Dublin dressing-room at O'Connor Park, Tullamore, as the boys in blue rejoiced at their marvellous triumph.

Across the passageway, Roscommon players shed tears of frustration and anguish, not so much at defeat, but at the manner in which they stayed stuck in first gear for so long while the Dubs ran riot through their porous, ineffective defensive screen.

The Rossies and their thousands of fans among the 9,201 attendance know that, individually and collectively, they are better than they showed in that one-sided first half which ended with Dublin leading 0-14 to 0-1.

A dramatic third-quarter resurgence, in which they scored 3-3, restored some Roscommon pride, but Dublin were the better side, especially in terms of their tactics and finishing.

It wasn't quite perfection for manager Dessie Farrell, who has mentored most of the Dubs squad at various levels over the last seven years, but it was pretty darn close.

"We had a sense it was coming because fellas were in the right frame of mind. The stuff we spoke about wanting to do, they executed it masterfully in the first half," said Farrell.

"No, you couldn't find many faults at half-time, but one of our challenges then was to avoid complacency.

"I think we did a fairly good job of that, but at the same time Roscommon hit us for three goals so we had a few nervy moments."

Man of the match Conor McHugh hit 1-6 as part of a devastating full-forward line.


Between them, Paul Mannion, Cormac Costello and McHugh accounted for 1-18 of Dublin's total, with Mannion on 0-8 (5fs, 1 '45'), and Costello, who injured a hamstring late in the match, contributing 0-4, two from frees.

McHugh and Co were virtually unstoppable, particularly in the first half, but the Na Fianna player knows there's no 'I' in team.

"It's the lads out the field – they put it on a plate for me in the first half," he said. "The tackling was unbelievable from the defence, and when you have 30 yards of space it's easy to be a forward – the defence deserve all the credit there.

"We knew they had very attacking half-backs, and if we got on top of them that would make them defend, so that worked out well. Great tactics from the management, they really did their homework."

The 'what ifs?' of this final will centre around the black-card dismissal of Dublin full-back David Byrne for a foul on Roscommon's Donie Smith in the 13th minute, and the subsequent penalty.

Smith took it himself, but his shot was saved by Dubs 'keeper Lorcan Molloy. The score at that stage was 0-7 to 0-1, and a goal was badly needed by Roscommon.

Dublin brought on Emmet O'Conghaile off the bench, and moved Conor Mullally deep into defence, but having escaped the penalty situation, the Metropolitans got back to the business of piling on the scores.

Roscommon manager Nigel Dineen did his best to rally the troops at half-time, and they gave a better second-half display.

"Dublin just blew us away in the first 30 minutes. We just had no answers to them," he lamented. "This is a good team but we were just beaten by a better Dublin team on the day."

Dublin started the second half strongly.

Costello produced a mazy soccer-style dribble along the end line and crossed the ball for Mannion, who had the goal at his mercy but put his shot over the the bar.

Then came points by McHugh, Mannion (free) and a 35th-minute goal by McHugh to make it 1-17 to 0-1.

Murray plundered a point for Roscommon, who then managed to score three goals in eight amazing minutes, but Dublin were in no mood to let things slip.

This group of Dubliners have travelled a hard road, particularly those who lost the 2011 minor final.

They weren't going to let it slip and over the next 16 minutes plus one extra minute of added time, they fended off each Rossie point with one of their own. Ultan Harney, Enda Smith and Diarmuid Murphy got three for the Rossies; they were matched with points by Jack McCaffrey, Mannion and sub Shane Cunningham.

Skipper McCaffrey, already a senior All-Ireland medallist, couldn't have been happier after his last year at this level.

"It's a great bunch of lads, a great bunch of footballers, and we feel we got our just desserts out there anyway. I'm finished at U-21 and what a way to go," he said.

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 (2fs), 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 (BC, 14), 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 M Gunning (h-t), S Flynn for R Daly (51), S Killoran for Healy (59).

Ref – B Cassidy (Derry).

Game at a glance

Man of the match:

Conor McHugh (Dublin)

Tidy and efficient in his use of space and shooting accuracy, McHugh gave a fine display and deserved to get the Dublin goal which came at an important time in the match. Just pipped his fellow front men Cormac Costello and Niall Mannion for the man-of-the-match award.

Turning Point:

The missed penalty after 14 minutes for Roscommon was a blow but in reality the way Dublin stepped on the gas for the first 12 minutes and then from the 19th minute to the end of the first half just blew the Rossies away.

Talking Point:

The Dubs are attracting silverware in a highly impressive fashion. Two senior football All-Irelands, three U-21s, one minor title, and successive Division 1 Football League titles since 2010 adds up to a great era of success. Can they bring a hurling All-Ireland to the county just to complete the set?

Magic moment:

Cormac Costello's audition for Manchester United as he skipped along the end line in a soccer-style dribble before laying on a great pass for Paul Mannion, who just hit the ball too high, scoring a point instead of what would have been a stunning goal.

Ref Watch:

Barry Cassidy didn't have much choice about the black card for the unfortunate Dublin full-back David Byrne. Generally kept good control of the match.

What they said:

Dessie Farrell (Dublin manager):

"Some days you get it right, plenty of days you don't as a management team. Today it was nice because it is nice when it works out."

Nigel Dineen (Roscommon manager):

"Obviously if we got the (penalty) goal it would have made a difference, but they were well on top all over the field. We can't just put it down to one goal chance."



Dublin 5 (2 in first half);

Roscommon 7 (5)


Dublin 20 (10); Roscommon 21 (9)


Dublin 1 (N Scully, 47);

Roscommon 1 (D Smith, 56)


Dublin 1 (D Byrne, 14); Roscommon 0


Dublin 0; Roscommon 0

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