Mannion red mars Dublin's five-star show
Dublin 5-21 Louth 0-10
If Dublin needed to make a statement about their desire to go again, they delivered here. There was no equivocation in Portlaoise. No giving Louth a chance to breath or believe, stay in the game or even keep it respectable.
In Portlaoise they delivered a 26-point win and a 25th consecutive victory in the province, in what could be step one of eight in their Drive for Five.
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You could argue Dublin had the game out of sight on 20 minutes when they moved six clear. Even when they were reduced to 14 men with the dismissal of Paul Mannion, Dublin simply took a breath and went again. Save for the moment's silence for the late great Anton O'Toole, which turned into a spontaneous round of applause, Dublin weren't waiting around for anyone.
Even long after their cold business was done and passage to a Leinster semi-final ensured, the subs piled on the misery, determined to force themselves into Gavin's thinking.
Replacements Michael Darragh Macauley and Philly McMahon both found the net in an utterly one-sided second half. Had it been a boxing match, Louth boss Wayne Kierans would surely have long thrown the towel in by the time McMahon ran in his side's fifth goal.
They will face stiffer tests of course but Jim Gavin left Portlaoise knowing that success hasn't dimmed his side's appetite. The tip of the spear remains as sharp as ever.This was the same story we've seen so many times since their last defeat in Leinster in 2010.
Here, Louth were game in the early exchanges but were ultimately outclassed in every department from the first whistle to the last. You'd have to have been paying attention to know Dublin were down to 14 men after Mannion's sending off.
The Kilmacud Crokes man caught Conal McKeever in the chest with a shoulder. Referee Jerome Henry, perhaps with Croke Park's warning that they would take a dim view of head-high tackles in mind, flashed the red card.
It mattered little. By that stage, Dublin were already 1-7 to 0-3 up. Louth had kicked the first point of the game through Ryan Burns after he got away from Cian O'Sullivan but Dublin replied with seven on the bounce.
Dean Rock wasn't part of the 26, due to injury, but Cormac Costello was unerring from placed balls in the first half. Costello delivered a man-of-the-match performance and had 1-12 to his name by the time Gavin called him ashore. It was just his third championship start in seven seasons but it looks like his time has arrived.
By half-time he had kicked eight frees and a '45. The Whitehall man might also have found the net in the first half but his effort shaved the post. Dublin had created two good goal chances in the opening six minutes. First Fergal Sheeky made a smart stop from Niall Scully. A few minutes later the Louth goalkeeper denied Con O'Callaghan.
However, a Dublin goal felt like an inevitability and it arrived on 22 minutes. Louth had cut the gap to four when Andy McDonnell and Burns pointed but Dublin cut the Wee men open again with Scully finding O'Callaghan.
His first effort was blocked but he got enough on the rebound to get it over the line and put the Dubs in complete control. With Costello stroking over the frees Louth coughed up, Dublin took a 1-12 to 0-4 lead in at the break.
The second half was more one sided. And even when Costello hit the post with a free shortly after the resumption, it rebounded kindly into his arms for his first point from play.
Louth looked like a team that wanted the end but the Blue Wave kept coming. Costello, Macauley, McMahon and Fenton all found the net in the second half. They had the ball in the net for a sixth time but it was ruled out for a square ball. To demonstrate their complete dominance, there was even time for Michael Fitzsimons to wander up for a point.
And when the sideline official announced that there would be four minutes injury time there was a palpable groan from those that still remained in O'Moore Park. Ryan Burns brought Louth's tally to 0-10 with the last kick of the game but it was little more than a footnote. The Drive for Five has begun and Dublin couldn't have done much more to underline the task it will be to dethrone them this year.
Sunday Indo Sport