Charlie Redmond: 'How can the All Ireland champions go two months without being seen? It beggars belief'
STEPHEN Cluxton got more trouble last night from the hundreds of happy Dublin supporters who sought autographs and selfies after the match than he did during the game.
He was as much a spectator as those who had paid in, as Dublin simply waltzed their way to a 26-point victory that at times was mesmeric. The Dubs played some wonderful football and simply played Louth off the park, scoring goals as they wanted towards the end, and all while playing a man short for three-quarters of the 70 minutes.
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And yes, the whole evening in Portlaoise was an advertisement for the concept of a tiered football Championship.
Carlow were hit by injuries and suspensions – but they still never looked like laying a glove on Meath, who will play three divisions above them in next year's League.
Louth were within one win of getting promotion to Division Two back in March, but yet Dublin were still opening them up at will while a man short.
It was an awesome second half, particularly, from the Dubs and, combined with the result from Castlebar, has reshaped our thinking on this All-Ireland race.
There was rustiness from some Dublin players in the opening going with passes going astray and sloppy kicking.
It's not what we were used to seeing from this team, but then their last match as a team was against Cavan on March 24, more than two months ago.
And maybe that's another issue for the GAA. How come the Association's marquee team goes two months of good weather and lengthening days without being seen? It beggars belief.
That's an argument for another day.
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Dublin are up and running on the way to a shot at glory. If there was rustiness early on, they had sure ironed it out by half-time.
In the second period, Dublin brought the slick movements they have patented in recent seasons to the fore and they simply blitzed Louth.
It was almost cruel to watch as it looked as though Dublin had two or three extra players – not one less.
Some of the high catches from the Raheny 'Brians', Fenton and Howard, were magnificent to see and with Louth trying to push up on Stephen Cluxton's kick-outs, he simply went long to this pair and the Dubs resumed their assault on the Louth posts.
I was not surprised by the team – with the likes of David Byrne, Darren Gavin and Cormac Costello getting their chance to start.
The Dubs' boss is playing the long game and it is all about getting the best possible squad for later in the summer. Certainly Costello left
a calling card. 1-12 was a brilliant total to secure and he looked all class.
It was a show and a half and the competition for places for the semi-final against Kildare or Longford next month will be crazy.
Though Paul Mannion's red card will ease it a little as he will now have to serve out a one-match ban.
It didn't look really dangerous, but the referees have been told to clamp down on anything high and which might cause injury to an opponent. And so Mannion had to walk.
So it is on to the semi-final in Croker on this day fortnight against Kildare or Longford. Dublin will approach it as they do every game, with a mixture of caution and confidence and off a thorough preparation.
It's a mixture that has served them well in the past and still carries them toward ultimate fame and a place in history.