Monday 20 January 2020

Dublin set new unbeaten record with comprehensive win over Roscommon


Paul Flynn of Dublin celebrates after scoring his side's first goal against Roscommon at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Paul Flynn of Dublin celebrates after scoring his side's first goal against Roscommon at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

FOR all the talk these past couple of weeks of history-in-the-making, you couldn’t but escape the feeling of anticlimax in Croke Park tonight.

As expected, Dublin broke the record for the number of competitive matches unbeaten for an inter-county football team but this felt more lap of honour than sprint down the final straight.

The hard work was done in places like Tralee and Ballybofey. This was Dublin doing one of the things they do better than anyone else; hammering some poor mid-ranker in Croke Park.

The Dubs have, across 35 League and Championship matches, engaged themselves in some epics, clawed and scraped their way back from positions so perilous as to appear terminal.

This was none of the above.

Roscommon came to Croke Park tonight, threw a couple of jabs and then resorted to the role of rented sparing partner, unmercifully slapped around by the all-seeing, all-conquering Dubs.

In fairness, the omens weren’t good. Roscommon arrived pointless and almost certainly relegated.

Kevin McStay, who has already been forced to defend himself against accusations of some form of internal sabotage to his adopted county, had expressed his hope that his team “go down fighting.”

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Dublin meanwhile, had four different names on their team sheet to that which started in Tralee a week previous.

Those names were Bernard Brogan, Paul Flynn, Cian O’Sullivan, and Kevin McManamon.

Late breaking news in Croke Park was that Diarmuid Connolly would be added to the Dublin substitutes and wear the number five vacated by James McCarthy.

Like we said - bad omens.

The game marked a first start of the season for Brogan, Flynn and O’Sullivan and as it went, the first two were the brightest sparks in Dublin’s first half performance.

Brogan hit three points and looked sharp as Dublin’s furthest man forward.

Flynn, meanwhile, had his most prolific match for Dublin, scoring 1-6 in a performance reminiscent of his 2014 peak.

He took a brilliantly-won ball off Brogan to slam in Dublin’s first goal after 15 minutes and from there, the energy sucked out of Roscommon like a vacuum.

For two such highly decorated players who struggled for their best form last year, this was more good news heaped upon good news for Jim Gavin.

Indeed, every Dublin forward scored from play on the evening and though Stephen Cluxton had to make two saves and Enda Smith caused sporadic problems in the first half, the question was mainly about how much the winning margin would ultimately be.

Dublin led by 1-14 to 0-6 at half-time and proceeded to bring on two former Footballers of the Year; Jack McCaffrey and Michael Darragh Macauley, and Connolly.

Kevin McManamon, who linked well but couldn’t quite find his range, then burst past three tackles and roofed Dublin’s second after 58 minutes.

By that stage, it had become a procession. Dublin go to Clones next Sunday where any sort of result would put them in their fifth League final in a row.

More records and plaudits await.

SCORERS – Dublin: P Flynn 1-6, K McManamon 1-1, P Andrew, B Brogan, D Rock (2f) 0-3 each, B Fenton, C Reddin, N Scully, C McHugh (1f) 0-2 each, E Lowndes, S Carthy, J McCaffrey, D Connolly 0-1 each. Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-3 (1f), D Smith, E Smith, C Murtagh (1f), C Connolly (1f) 0-2 each, G Patterson, S Killoran, N Kilroy 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P McMahon, M Fitzsimons, D Daly; D Byrne, C O’Sullivan, E Lowndes; B Fenton, C Reddin; P Flynn, K McManamon, N Scully; D Rock, P Andrews, B Brogan. Subs: S Carthy for Byrne (30), J McCaffrey for Daly (40), C McHugh for Rock (40), Connolly for Fenton (44), MD Macauley for Reddin (47), P Mannion for O’Sullivan (50).

ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; D Murray, J McManus, N McInerney;  McDermott, U Harney, R Stack; T Corcoran, T O’Rourke; G Patteron, C Devaney, E Smith; D Smith, D Murtagh, C Murtagh. Subs: C Compton for Corcoran (h-t), S Killoran for Harney (h-t), C Connolly for D Murtagh (53), B Murtagh for McDermott (53), F Cregg for D Smith (53), N Kilroy for C Murtagh (65)

REF: C Reilly (Meath)

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