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Gavin hails resolve of Blue army in march to decider

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Dublin wing-forward Ciaran Reddin tries to punch the ball away from Cork's Eoin Healy during the All-Ireland U-21 FC semi-final at O'Moore Park

Dublin wing-forward Ciaran Reddin tries to punch the ball away from Cork's Eoin Healy during the All-Ireland U-21 FC semi-final at O'Moore Park

Dublin wing-forward Ciaran Reddin tries to punch the ball away from Cork's Eoin Healy during the All-Ireland U-21 FC semi-final at O'Moore Park

Dublin continued their inexorable progress to the final with another excellent performance at O'Moore Park on Saturday.

While the ease of victory didn't match anything they had produced en route to a provincial success secured on the back of an average winning margin of 13 points, there was still never any doubt as to the superiority of the swaggering boys in blue.

How good was that Wexford team that pushed them to three points in the first round, one wonders?

There is just one hurdle left for Dublin to clear now as they hunt for a second All-Ireland U-21 football title in three seasons and, although Roscommon are likely to be their toughest test yet, there is no doubt that the Metropolitans will be heavily favoured to prevail.

Cork provided stern resistance in the opening 10 minutes when they pushed four points clear, but once Dublin began to find a modicum of space, John Cleary's side had no answer.

Philip Ryan plundered two goals -- one from the penalty spot -- while the outstanding Jack McCaffrey ended Cork's hopes with his clinical strike less than two minutes into the second half.

Cork kept plugging away and got the deficit down to five points at one stage, but it had been six with a quarter of an hour remaining.

That gives an indication of the maturity of the Dubs' effort and perhaps how much within themselves they were playing at that juncture.

Reliant

Contrary to that opening period when Brian Hurley, Donal Og Hodnett, John O'Rourke and Mark Sugrue all scored from play, Cork were completely reliant on frees in the second half.

Invariably, when the Rebels did chisel out a desperately hard-earned score, Dublin sauntered up the field to respond, through Paul Hudson, Ryan, Emmet O Conghaile and Ciaran Kilkenny.

"We struggled in some parts of the game but I thought the guys showed great resolve," said Dublin manager Jim Gavin afterwards. "Cork got a great start. But we knew that we had the wind and the forwards to score.

"Other guys rallied and rallied very well. There were some great performances. There was a lot of talk about one or two of our marquee forwards, but it was great to see other guys step up. They put a lot of pressure on themselves so I'm delighted for them."

Kilkenny was kept very quiet by a Cork defence in which Danny O'Donovan and Alan Cronin were both eye-catching, but his one point in the second half was a peach, fetching a long delivery over his head, turning and firing of his right shoulder.

Ryan was one of those to step up, especially when Dublin needed something in the first half. He scored 2-2 in that time and it was a good response by the St Brigid's man to being substituted in the Leinster final.

"That's just the way the squad concept works with me anyway," added Gavin. "We all know that if they are going through a bad day, other guys on the bench will step up to the mark. But I'm delighted for Philly. He worked very hard."

Experience

Gavin knows that Roscommon will be very difficult to overcome in the final but agrees that his players' experience of the big occasion at both minor and U-21 level should be beneficial.

They should be brimming with confidence too, having laid waste to the best that Leinster had to offer before this comfortable dismissal of a good Cork side.

"We encourage them to go out and express themselves as footballers. We gave them a framework. The way I see it, my management team is there to facilitate the players ... then it's up to them to play within the framework.

"You would hope that we would have that experience of it and it is just a game of football with all the razzamatazz involved with it. But you hope that (experience) would count for something."

Scorers -- Dublin: P Ryan 2-3 (1-0 pen, 0-1 '45'), J McCaffrey 1-0; E O Conghaile, P Hudson 0-2 each, D Byrne, G Sweeney, C Kilkenny, P Maguire 0-1. Cork: B Hurley 0-6 (5f), J O'Rourke, L Connolly (1 '45') 0-2 each, D Og Hodnett, M Sugrue, K Hallissey (1f), D McEoin (1f) 0-1 each.

Dublin -- JB Carthy; M Concar, K O'Brien, S George; L Fletcher, J Kelly, J McCaffrey; E O Conghaile, D Byrne; C Reddin, G Sweeney, M Schutte; C Kilkenny, P Ryan, P Hudson. Subs: P Maguire for Byrne (38), G Seaver for Schutte (45), P O'Higgins for Reddin (46), H Dawson for Hudson (55), E Keogh for Sweeney (57).

Cork -- S Mellet; D O'Donovan, D Cahalane, A Cronin; J Cronin, T Clancy, J Wall; R Deane, E Healy; K Hallissey, M Sugrue, J O'Rourke; L Connolly, B Hurley, D Óg Hodnett. Subs: D McEoin for Hallissey (h-t), C O'Sullivan for Wall (40), B O'Driscoll for Healy (51), A Cadogan for Sugrue (55).

Ref -- M Higgins (Fermanagh).

Irish Independent