Late goal from McCaffrey seals the deal for Dublin
Dublin 2-10 Donegal 0-11
They daren't call it revenge in early February but Dublin's first Allianz League win of the season was particularly sweet. A little over five months after being dramatically dethroned at Croke Park, the Dubs turned the tables on Donegal with a most satisfying performance.
Jack McCaffrey's 1-1 contribution after being hauled from the bench with just over 20 minutes to go was decisive in front of 22,968.
Cormac Costello's early goal kept Dublin just ahead for the most part up to then while Dean Rock's placed ball kicking was also important. Manager Jim Gavin will be proud that his side won despite losing Kevin McManamon to a 45th minute red card.
Donegal finished without their own talisman Michael Murphy due to a late black card offence. It had all started so brightly for Murphy and Donegal when he picked up from where the team left off last August with the game's first two points.
Murphy was on the mark inside a minute and then doubled Donegal's advantage with a second minute free. The game exploded into life in the fifth minute when Dublin opened their own account with a Costello goal.
McManamon began the move with a kick pass to Eric Lowndes who hand passed over Donegal's full-back line to an onrushing Costello.
The young corner-forward took the ball beyond Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan before slotting home left footed. It was a double setback for Donegal because Durcan took a heavy hit from Karl Lacey during the move and had to be taken off.
Three Dublin points in a row from the lively Davy Byrne, midfielder Emmet O Conghaile and Eoghan O'Gara put some daylight between at 1-3 to 0-3.
But Paddy McBrearty was a potent outlet for Donegal in attack and he shot three points before the break to reduce their arrears. Dublin struggled to cope with the All-Ireland medallist who shot two of his scores from open play and drilled another chance just wide.
Murphy started alongside McBrearty in the full-forward line but typically flitted between there and midfield as he sought out possession.
Dublin rejigged their own team early on with Eoin Culligan and Tomás Brady both making way by the 20th minute. They took a slender lead into the interval at 1-5 to 0-7.
Donegal's momentum carried into the second-half with Murphy striking early again to level the game up. It was tough, tense stuff and rookie Dublin centre-back John Small was left floored by a huge challenge from Murphy.
McManamon was shown the red card when he picked up his second booking for a 45th minute high challenge on Mark McHugh.
In a low scoring contest, Dublin took a narrow 1-7 to 0-9 lead into the final 20 minutes though they hadn't scored from open play since the 22nd minute.
Rock's frees were crucial and he nudged them two clear, an advantage they maintained approaching the final 10 minutes thanks to a McCaffrey score. An impressive Dublin win was ultimately sealed by McCaffrey's brilliant 63rd minute goal. He took off on a stunning solo run, somehow holding off Murphy before rifling the ball to the net.
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-5 (4f, 1 45), J McCaffrey 1-1, C Costello 1-0, E O'Gara, Davy Byrne, E O Conghaile, C Kilkenny 0-1 each. Donegal: M Murphy (2f), P McBrearty (2f) 0-4 each, C Toye 0-2, C McFadden 0-1.
Dublin: S Currie; E Culligan, M Fitzsimons, D Daly; J Cooper, J Small, E Lowndes; D Bastick, E O Conghaile; T Brady, D Rock, Davy Byrne; K McManamon, E O'Gara, C Costello. Subs: D Byrne for Culligan (16), C Kilkenny for Brady (19), J McCaffrey for Lowndes (49), P McMahon for Cooper (60), B Brogan for Costello (64), C Reddin for Davy Byrne (70).
Donegal: P Durcan; F McGlynn, E McGee, P McGrath; K Lacey, E Doherty, M McHugh; N Gallagher, O MacNiallais; R McHugh, M O'Reilly, C Toye; P McBrearty, M Murphy, H McFadden. Subs: M Boyle for Durcan (6), N McGee for McGrath (19), M McElhinney for O'Reilly (47), C McFadden for H McFadden (54), D O'Connor for Doherty (64), D McLoughlin for Murphy (70, b/c).
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).
Sunday Indo Sport