Dublin finish strongly to see off resilient Roscommon as Jim Gavin's men eye League final
Dublin 2-14 Roscommon 1-12
FOR 50 minutes, Roscommon supporters could dare to dream in Dr Hyde Park this afternoon.
And then reality dawned in the guise of those remorseless Dubs, who wrested total control of the second half of this Allianz Football League Division 1 clash to run out five-point winners.
When Anthony Cunningham's side opened the second half with a beguiling brace of points in the first two minutes – from wandering corner-back David Murray and their best attacker, Conor Cox – they led by two, 1-11 to 1-9.
The locals in an estimated crowd of 6,500 were savouring what promised to be one of their greatest days.
But they wouldn't score again for over half-an-hour, until sub Aonghus Lyons fisted over what transpired to be merely a consolation point.
In between, Jim Gavin's Sky Blue machine rattled off an unanswered 1-5 to kill the game and greatly enhance their own prospects of reaching another NFL final.
Dublin weren't foot-perfect – they hit seven wides after the break and dropped another three efforts short – but they monopolised possession against rivals who were eventually running on empty after their herculean first half efforts.
The key score arrived in the 51st minute, when Dean Rock bundled home their second goal, the ball creeping inside the right upright, after Con O'Callaghan's first goalbound incursion was held up.
That edged Dublin into a two-point lead. Four more points – a deadball brace from Rock, efforts from Niall Scully and Darren Gavin – killed off any lingering chance of an upset.
Roscommon's deflating second half was summed up by the double-yellow dismissal of Conor Devaney after 66 minutes.
The first half was a spectacularly red-hot antidote to the miserable weather, and finished with the two protagonists deadlocked at 1-9 apiece as they headed for the Hyde dressing-rooms.
The hosts had even more reason for optimism, given that they had spent most of the half chasing down the four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions.
Dublin led by 0-3 to 0-1 after Paddy Andrews converted a seventh minute mark, only for Roscommon to battle back to parity through Donie Smith's impudent point and a Ciaran Lennon mark.
They again led by 1-5 to 0-3 after O'Callaghan's 18th minute goal, buried first time as Dublin's livewire No 10 pounced on a ball that eventually broke off Rock after the latter collected a high Cormac Costello delivery.
But the Rossies kept nibbling away at Dublin's lead and, when again trailing by five, they surged right back into contention with a goal of their own after 29 minutes.
A speculative Donie Smith ‘Garryowen' created the opportunity and when the ball broke off Lennon, the inrushing Cathal Cregg was in the right place to hammer a left-footed angled drive past Stephen Cluxton, back for his first Sky Blue appearance of the year.
Even though Andrews immediately made it a three-point game from the next kickout, Roscommon finished the half with a three-point flourish from the excellent Cox (a free), wing-back Ronan Daly and skipper Enda Smith.
SCORERS - Dublin: D Rock 1-5 (4f, 1 ‘45'), C O'Callaghan 1-1, P Andrews 0-3 (1m), N Scully 0-2, C O'Connor, C Basquel, D Gavin 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Cox 0-4 (1f), C Cregg 1-0, C Lavin (‘45'), R Daly, N Kilroy, D Smith, E Smith, C Lennon (m), D Murray, A Lyons 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; A McGowan, J Cooper, D Byrne; J McCaffrey, C O'Sullivan, C O'Connor; B Fenton, D Gavin; N Scully, C O'Callaghan, C Basquel; C Costello, D Rock, P Andrews. Subs: R McDaid for McCaffrey (inj 10), P Mannion for Costello (45), B Howard for McGowan (51), P Flynn for Basquel (51), MD Macauley for Fenton (72).
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; G Patterson, C Daly, D Murray; C Devaney, N Daly, R Daly; T O'Rourke, S Killoran; E Smith, D Smith, N Kilroy; C Lennon, C Cox, C Cregg. Subs: S Mullooly for Kilroy (52), C Compton for E Smith (52), A Lyons for Cregg (57), C Hussey for Killoran (59), H Darcy for D Smith (64).
REF: P O'Sullivan (Kerry)