Friday 23 August 2019

Dublin massacre Louth in an ominous signal of intent

Roscommon players and supporters celebrate in MacHale Park last night. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Roscommon players and supporters celebrate in MacHale Park last night. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Dublin's Paul Mannion was sent off as the All-Ireland champions opened their bid for a record fifth title with a runaway win over Louth at Portlaoise last night.

Mannion received his marching orders in the 25th minute, given a straight red by Mayo referee Jerome Henry, with Dublin already sitting on a 1-7 to 0-3 lead.

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Mannion's dismissal appeared to be for a careless or reckless challenge on Conal McKeever, though the exact interpretation by the referee was unclear.

Dublin manager Jim Gavin was adamant that it was not a sending-off offence. "My first thoughts on it, having seen it live, I thought he tackled him and the ball just popped up," said Gavin. "Certainly from my perspective, it didn't warrant a red card. Possibly a yellow.

"We'll see it slowed down into various frames and we can make an assessment then. But my initial reaction is it's a harsh call. Thankfully it didn't upset the rhythm of the game for us. Paul's a strong guy. He's a big man. He's six-two. I thought the Louth player crouched a little bit, which probably didn't help him. But the Louth guy got up and played on. But initial reaction is it's certainly not a red card."

But even with one player fewer for the remainder the gap between the teams simply grew wider and the class more pronounced.

Louth, 25/1 outsiders and who last defeated Dublin in the Championship in 1973, ran into Dublin's propellers at full tilt as Gavin's team piled up a huge score, adding four more goals from Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley, Cormac Costello and Philly McMahon, to add to their opening goal from Con O'Callaghan in the 23rd minute. The final score was 5-21 to 0-10: a massacre.

One of the biggest cheers of the evening was reserved for Rory O'Carroll who came off the bench in the 47th minute, replacing Jack McCaffrey. It was O'Carroll's first appearance since the 2015 All-Ireland final. Dublin move on to face Kildare or Longford (who play this afternoon) in the semi-finals on June 9, which Mannion will have to sit out, not that they are short of replacements.

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After Cavan's win over Monaghan last Saturday night, it was Roscommon's turn this week to upset the odds when they scored a thrilling one-point victory over League champions Mayo in Castlebar.

Substitute Fintan Cregg kicked the winning point deep in injury time and Mayo squandered a chance to draw level with the last kick of the game when Kevin McLoughlin missed a free.

But it was two first-half goals from Cathal Cregg and Ultan Harney, which did the real damage to Mayo.

It was the only real contest of the day - Meath and Tyrone also recorded facile wins over Carlow and Antrim respectively - and Roscommon fans celebrated enthusiastically after winning a Championship match against the home side in MacHale Park for the first time in 33 years.

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