'Better than Sam Allardyce and no money involved' - Dublin stand-in boss Paul Clarke on O'Byrne Cup success
Dublin 2-16 Louth 1-10
Red faces all round in Leinster as the blue-clad Dublin wannabes romped to victory in the Bord Na Móna O'Byrne Cup at Drogheda yesterday.
The so-called Dublin third string could have been excused if they bowed out gallantly to a county team at almost full strength which is preparing for league action next weekend.
Instead, the strength of club football in the county, and the rich harvest of U-21 and minor titles of recent years enhanced Dublin's superiority in the province.
No wonder former All-Ireland winners Paul Clarke, Jim Brogan, and Bryan Cullen were delighted with the performances of the shadow squad they were given by Dubs boss Jim Gavin in place of the big names who were scheduled for a team holiday in Jamaica.
Clarke retires from his brief stint as county manager with four wins from five matches and a trophy on the sideboard.
"Better than Sam Allardyce and no money involved. I can ride off into the sunset," he quipped.
He will wrap up his campaign with an in-depth report for Gavin on the players worthy of consideration for league and possibly championship.
"These lads have skill sets. That's why they're here.
"They've performed with their clubs admirably over the last season, and some of them have performed very well at minor and U-21.
"It's great credit to them that they can achieve something like that in a short space of time.
"Four or five was probably the number discussed at the start, but there are eight or nine now that we can say to Jim Gavin, 'They could play league next week'," said Clarke.
He would not be drawn on individuals, and it's fair to say that Dublin got very good value from all the players they used on a greasy surface against a competitive Louth side.
Man of the match Niall Scully, Ciarán Reddin, Ross Hazley, Jason Whelan, Niall Walsh, Paul Hudson, Conor McHugh, and Emmett ó Conghaile showed up well, but Dublin had no passengers.
Goalie Evan Comerford made a couple of fine close-range saves to deny Louth a goal when they penetrated the Dubs' backline. Louth boss Colin Kelly was not happy with the result, particularly as his players had 10 wides and another few attempts dropping short.
He understandably viewed the saves made by the Dublin 'keeper as more about missed opportunities by his players, but the fact remains that being down 0-5 to 0-6 at half-time, and losing by nine points hurt him.
"Disappointing. I'm going to have to listen to a load of stuff now about the Dublin third team," said Kelly.
"The inevitability is, for 35 minutes we had serious domination. Possibly should have turned 1-10, 1-12 to four or five points ahead. There lies the problem. We didn't. And when Dublin got their period of domination, their skill set shone through. Some of their shooting was very, very good.
"They had a period of domination straight after half-time where they killed the game, whereas in the first half we were getting attack after attack after attack, and five points to show for it.
"Not good enough."
Clarke's men had six wides in the first half and they remedied that failing after half-time.
By the time Louth got their sixth point in the 55th minute, which was 32 minutes after their fifth, the Dubs had found the target seven times.
Hudson got three, two from frees, and Colm Basquel, Conor Mullally, McHugh, and Reddin all raised white flags.
The exchanges got a bit tasty, with a number of altercations breaking the flow of the game.
Ref John Hickey ended up booking 11 players, six from Louth, including a black card for Derek Maguire. Dublin's ó Conghaile was sent off for a second yellow in the dying minutes.
By then the game was over as a contest. Colm Basquel's neatly-slotted shot to the Louth net from a pass by Gary Sweeney in the 65th minute had put the Dubs eight points ahead.
Pádraig Rath scored Louth's goal in the 74th minute, but with almost the last kick of the game Killian O'Gara responded with a goal at the other end of the pitch.
Scorers - Dublin: P Hudson 0-6 (3f); C Basquel 1-1; K O'Gara 1-0; C Reddin 0-3 (1 '45); J Whelan, N Scully, S Cunningham, C Mullally, C McHugh, R O'Brien 0-1 each. Louth: P Smith 0-5; P Rath 1-0; R Holcroft, S Mulroy (2f) 0-2 each; B Duffy 0-1.
Dublin - E Comerford; J Smith, E O'Brien, R McGowan; N Scully, C Reddin, R Gaughan; J Whelan, C Mullally; R Hazley, S Boland, N Walsh; P Hudson, S Cunningham, C McHugh. Subs: E ó Conghaile for R Hazley (h-t); C Basquel for S Boland (h-t); T Shields for C Mullally (40); G Sweeney for N Walsh (51); K O'Gara for S Cunningham (55); S Newcombe for J Whelan (62); R O'Brien for C McHugh (67).
Louth - C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, K Carr; D Maguire, D McMahon, A Williams; T Durnin, A McDonnell; J Stewart, P Smith, B Duffy; C McKeever, J McEneaney, R Holcroft.
Subs: A Reid for C McKeever (39); R Burns for J McEneaney; E O'Connor for T Durnin (48); S Mulroy for R Holcroft (50); R Moore for A McDonnell (65); R Nally for P Smith (67).
Ref - J Hickey (Carlow)