FL1 semi-final: dazzling Dubs demolish disappointing Donegal

April 10, 2016

Dublin's Bernard Brogan celebrates scoring his side's goal against Donegal.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

Dublin will face Kerry in the national football league final after cruising to a 1-20 to 0-13 semi-final victory over Donegal at Croke Park.

The Dubs - who had eleven different scorers today (Bernard Brogan got the goal at the start of the second half) - are now just one win away from four successive league titles, having won eight straight games in this year's competition to assume their place in the decider. Donegal are deservedly out after losing for the fifth time in a row.

With the wind behind them, the impressive victors outscored an adventurous Donegal side by eleven points to six during the course of an entertaining first half, where both teams attacked and defended in packs, but the All-Ireland champions' greater attacking prowess was evident as they scored at will compared to the visitors.

Dean Rock opened the scoring from a second-minute free and Patrick McBrearty replied in kind before Man of the Match Ciaran Kilkenny lofted over the first score from play. Paddy Andrews added a sublime Dubs point from a difficult angle and Rock's strike from play made it 0-4 to 0-1 after eleven minutes.

A brace of beautifully-struck Michael Murphy frees from the deck closed the gap to the minimum but the holders hit back with points from Rock (free) and Kilkenny to lead by double scores after 22 minutes, 0-6 to 0-3.

In response to a fine Martin McElhinney effort, Rock restored his side's three-point cushion from a very soft free and Andrews drilled over a sumptuous point after Rory Kavanagh's diving block had denied Brogan a Dublin goal; Kilkenny's third point left five between them on the half-hour mark.

The Ulster side came back with points from McBrearty and Murphy (free) but it was the Dubs who finished the first half stronger with left-footed points from Paul Mannion and James McCarthy.

Playing into The Hill, Dublin made an ideal start to the second half when Brogan collected Philly McMahon's pinpoint pass and rolled a low shot past Michael Anthony McGinley to the Donegal net. That score, which followed a turnover at the other end as the Tir Chonail men tried to resume on the front foot, left eight between the sides and effectively settled the match as a contest.

McBrearty's beauty was replied to by marauding corner back McMahon; Rock and McBrearty hit the woodwork at either end before McGinley came off his line to deny Mannion, with Rock converting the accruing '45' into the stiff breeze.

Last-ditch defending from Neil McGee denied John Small a second Dublin major and Donegal closed the gap somewhat with three converted McBrearty frees and one from Murphy, with Mannion smacking over a superb strike at the other end. Substitute Cormac Costello stroked over the score that made it 1-16 to 0-11 with 14 minutes remaining.

Full back Jonny Cooper crept forward to get in on the Dubln scoring act before being forced out of the action after being caught in the jaw by the inside of a stray Colm McFadden forearm but the Dubs kept motoring and substitute Eric Lowndes supplied the score that re-established their ten-point lead, 1-18 to 0-11.

McBrearty and Brogan added points for either side and the latter glided through to provide his team's 20th point in injury time before the former replied from a free.

In the end, it was all too easy for Jim Gavin's league, All-Ireland and Leinster championship holders, who advance to face Kerry - surely the only other potential Sam Maguire Cup winner this year - in the final for the first time in 29 years.

Dublin - S Cluxton; P McMahon (0-1), J Cooper (0-1), D Byrne; J McCarthy (0-1), C O'Sullivan, J Small (0-1); B Fenton, D Bastick; P Flynn, P Andrews (0-2), C Kilkenny (0-3); D Rock (0-5, 3f, 1'45), P Mannion (0-2), B Brogan (1-2). Subs: C Costello (0-1) for P Andrews, E Lowndes (0-1) for D Bastick, M Fitzsimons for P McMahon, S B Carthy for P Flynn, K O'Brien for J Cooper, S Carthy for C O'Sullivan.

Donegal - M A McGinley; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; R McHugh, K Lacey, C Gillespie; R Kavanagh, O MacNiallais; M O'Reilly, M McElhinney (0-1), F McGlynn; P McBrearty (0-8, 5f), M Murphy (0-4f), L McLoone. Subs: S McBrearty for M O'Reilly, C McGonagle for O MacNiallais, C McFadden for M McElhinney, C Toye for R Kavanagh, E Ban Gallagher for L McLoone, J O'Brien for C Gillespie.

Referee - M Deegan.

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