That's not the way we want to play football - McIver

Dublin 0-8 Derry 0-4

Derry's Daniel Heavron in action against Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin Newsdesk

The boos that rang out around Croke Park midway through the first half were understandable but then so was Brian McIver's viewpoint.

The Derry boss laid it out straight afterwards. They don't want to play that way but what choice did they have? Go toe-to-toe and lose, probably heavily, in the name of entertainment?

They had tried that almost a year ago in the league final and were beaten a point a man. At least this time, an eyesore of a game ensured they were level with ten minutes to go.

At that stage the scores stood at 0-4 each. It was scarcely believable considering some of the talent on the pitch, but it was the dour reality.

From there, Dublin kicked four on the bounce to kick clear and relegate Derry. The official figures said there were 19,224 souls in attendance but it's unlikely they'd all admit to it.


Derry set out their stall from early on. On a given Dublin attack they could funnel all 15 of their players behind the ball and it worked to some extent. Jim Gavin's side had nine wides by half-time and that number would swell to 17 by full-time.

Perhaps chastened by the experience of last year's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Donegal, Dublin ensured they weren't going to be caught chasing the game.

In responding to Derry's approach, they contributed to the malaise that descended on Croke Park. They held their shape and probed and retained possession.

At the back, they played percentages and always ensured there was cover and so the match quickly turned into a game of chess without the urgency.

Derry led at the break. Michael Darragh Macauley and Mark Lynch swapped scores inside 30 seconds. Derry added two more from placed balls but there was no action of note until the last kick of the half when Diarmuid Connolly boomed one over. Connolly didn't look like he was enjoying himself as the teams walked off to a chorus of boos.

Things didn't change much on the restart. With ten minutes to go the sides were level but Dublin eventually broke through to lead. From there they kicked on as tired Derry legs left gaps that previously hadn't appeared.

"When we were here a year ago we were well opened up," McIver explained afterwards.

"And there Dublin scored eight points and two of those came in the last minute or so.

"From a defensive point of view, we did the business but look, until the GAA authorities do something to change the rules or whatever, unfortunately that's the way a lot of games are going.

"Believe me, it's not the way we want to play football."

"It's an exhaustive effort and if you are going to play like that you really have to be scoring near enough every time you go to the other end of the field.

"But listen both sides' set up by and large, they nearly mirrored each other. So it was the same problem for Dublin but when their chances presented themselves they took them."

For Jim Gavin, there was the satisfaction of seeing his team work their way through a sort of puzzle that had tripped them up before.

A point down at the break, they retained their discipline throughout and Gavin rubbished any suggestion they had set out to play defensively.

"It's just a challenge for us," said Gavin, who also confirmed that Ger Brennan won't see action until July after an operation on his achilles.

"Whatever way a team plays against us; whether it's man to man or that blanket defence, it's a case of just trying to read our defence and just trying to work our way through it. That would be the most satisfying thing.

"Our midfielders and wing-forwards were quite diligent. Our half-backs held good shape. But they also assisted the attack.

"I don't think we could leave here tonight saying we played defensively. I just think we had good structure. I think there's a big difference there."

Given the relative success Derry had in frustrating the Dubs, it's likely Gavin's men will face similar conundrums before the year is out. And it's likely we'll hear more boos too.

Man of the Match: Rory O'Carroll

Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-3 (2f), D Connolly 0-2, C Costello, MD Macauley, P Andrews 0-1 each. Derry: M Lynch, B Heron (45), J Kielt (1f), E Lynn 0-1 each.

Dublin - S Cluxton 7; P McMahon 7, R O'Carroll 8, E Culligan 6; J Cooper 6, J Small 7, J McCaffrey 8; MD Macauley 7, T Brady 6; P Flynn 6, D Connolly 6, C Kilkenny 5; K McManamon 5, D Rock 6, B Brogan 6. Subs: C Costello 6 for McManamon (h-t), J McCarthy 6 for Brady, D Byrne (Naomh Olaf) for Culligan (both 42), P Andrews 7 for Kilkenny (51), B Fenton 6 for Macauley (54), D Byrne (Ballymun) for Brogan (70).

Derry - T Mallon 6; O Duffy 6, N Holly 6, K Johnston 6; L McGoldrick 6, C McAtamney 6, M McIver 6; M Lynch 7, E Bradley 6; SL McGoldrick 8, D Heavron 6, E Lynn 7; B Heron 6, E McGuckin 6, J Kielt 6. Subs: T O'Brien for McGuckin 6, F Doherty for E Bradley 6, C McFaul 6 for Kielt (all 46), D McKinless 6 for McIver (51), N McNicholl for L McGoldrick (67).

Ref - C Lane (Cork)