Dean Rock stars as Dublin extend win streak
Dublin 1-13 Roscommon 1-12
A surreal day in the west for 'Hill 16 on tour' - a less-than-straightforward day for their heroes in sky blue.
But a winning one, all the same, as Dublin withstood a brave fightback from the resurgent Rossies to claim their seventh consecutive Division 1 victory en route to next weekend's semi-final against Donegal.
That will be back in Croke Park, with no possibility for the late fixture chaos that saw yesterday's clash moved from Dr Hyde Park to Carrick-on-Shannon following a 9am pitch inspection on the beleaguered quagmire that qualifies as Roscommon's county grounds.
A huge Dublin support, including many who had travelled to Roscommon via public transport and were duly ferried by buses to Leitrim, helped to swell the attendance at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada to an estimated 10,000 people.
At half-time this bore all the hallmarks of another Sky Blue shoo-in, the 'visitors' leading by 0-9 to 0-3.
Even as late as the 57th minute, when Dean Rock finished off a one-two with the returning Eoghan O'Gara to dispatch Dublin's goal and make it a six-point game again, the match appeared over for a battling Roscommon.
But a grandstand finish, ignited by Senan Kilbride's fisted goal after 59 minutes, left Dublin hanging on by their fingertips.
Roscommon landed four of the last six points, including a third from Donie Shine (who shimmered with promise on his comeback from injury) and a fifth from the equally impressive Ciarán Murtagh.
When substitute Conor Devaney capitalised on a Dublin defensive turnover to land his second point in the 70th minute, the gap was down to the bare minimum with three minutes of signalled stoppage time to come.
The game had slipped well into a fourth additional minute when Roscommon were handed their chance of parity following a foul on Niall Daly - but Murtagh slipped in the act of shooting a presentable free from the left wing, and the ball trailed wide of the near post. Game over.
Kevin McStay wasn't about to go seeking culprits afterwards. "Ciaran had a mighty game for us," said the Roscommon joint-manager.
"He's a massive young player … he brought the game big time to Dublin in the second half. I've no issue there - I'd say he was wrecked.
"We were out on our feet with five minutes to go. We'd everybody subbed in.
"We asked them to empty the tank, and that is exactly the feeling we have in the dressing-room - that everybody, in the second half gave us whatever they had. And I can't ask any more than that."
Jim Gavin was equally effusive about the efforts of a relatively weakened Dublin team that included one player making his full league debut (Conor McHugh) and another making his comeback after a lengthy absence (Kevin O'Brien), plus a sub (O'Gara) making his first appearance since tearing his cruciate 13 months ago.
"It was going to be difficult against a very good Roscommon side in difficult conditions, and to put players into that bearpit and come out with a victory is very satisfying," the Dublin boss enthused.
"It is a healthy sign of the squad that players, with so many changes, can simply continue our patterns of play and see things through to the end."
Once upon a time, pre-Gavin and Gilroy, Dublin were dismissed as the ultimate bad travellers.
How times change: this was their third win on the road this spring, and not even the late venue switch to another county could derail the tourists.
Mind you, the opening salvos hinted at a different script. Roscommon managed the opening two points via Daly's fist and Murtagh's dead-eyed free from the left.
But gradually, inexorably, the All-Ireland champions cranked into gear on a slippery surface.
Rock was their executioner-in-chief: he landed six of the next nine unanswered points, a sequence broken by Shine in injury-time, and added another 1-2 in the second half.
Kevin McManamon, meanwhile, was their creative hub up front until appearing to tweak his hamstring in the act of shooting a wide.
Roscommon upped the ante in his absence; they'll require more of the same from far earlier in their semi-final against an in-form Kerry.
SCORERS - Dublin: D Rock 1-8 (7f), SB McCarthy 0-2, C McHugh, K McManamon, J Small 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Murtagh 0-5 (2f), D Shine 0-3, S Kilbride 1-0, C Devaney 0-2, N Daly, F Cregg (f) 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: M Savage 7; K O'Brien 6, M Fitzsimons 7, D Daly 6; E Lowndes 6, C O'Sullivan 7, D Byrne 6; B Fenton 8, E Ó Conghaile 7; T Brady 6, D Rock 9, S B Carthy 7; P Mannion 6, K McManamon 8, C McHugh 7. Subs: R McDaid 7 for O'Sullivan (HT), P Flynn 6 for Brady (44), E O'Gara 6 for McManamon (inj 49), J Small 7 for Daly (51), C Costello 6 for Mannion (57), C Kilkenny for Lowndes (BC 64).
ROSCOMMON: D O'Malley 6; N McInerney 9, S McDermott 5, N Collins 6; D Murray 7, S Purcell 6, D Keenan 6; N Daly 7, C Shine 6; F Cregg 7, N Kilroy 5, C Murtagh 8; D Shine 8, S Kilbride 6, C Cregg 6. Subs: S Mullooly 7 for McDermott (BC 26), C Devaney 7 for C Cregg (BC HT), J McManus 6 for Keenan (44), J McDermott 6 for C Shine (51), B Murtagh 6 for Kilroy (56), T Corcoran for D Shine (64).
ref - D O'Mahoney (Tipperary).