Dublin: 1-24, Cavan: 0-12
Dublin’s quest for six All-Irelands in a row remains on track, after a comfortable victory over a spirited Cavan side in Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. The Ulster champions competed well for fifty minutes of the game, before Dublin kicked into top gear and put them to the sword. The Dubs, once again, were different class in the fourth quarter and played at a level which no side in the country can realistically match.
Cavan began the game very well, with a point inside the first thirty seconds. James Smith made a great run, before setting up Martin Reilly for a point. Dublin responded straight away, when Ciarán Kilkenny swung over his first score to get the champions off the mark. James Smith was very prominent in midfield early on and he drove forward to kick Cavan’s second point. Within a minute however, the Dubs replied, with Brian Fenton kicking a similar score after a great run. Dublin went ahead for the first time shortly after, with Robbie McDaid getting a point from the left wing. Cavan’s talisman Thomas Galligan then kicked an excellent long-range score for the Ulster champions. The game was very open, with some excellent end to end action at this stage. Cavan’s commitment was impressive, with Oisín Kiernan throwing himself in to win a turnover from Con O’Callaghan. A minute later however, O’Callaghan kicked a lovely score for the Dubs. Dean Rock then thundered into the game, kicking two excellent scores from play before pointing his first free. Cavan responded when Ciarán Brady made a strong run through the Dublin defence before kicking a great point. It left the champions ahead by 0-7 to 0-4 at the first half water break.
Dublin quickly added two points after the water break, through Fenton and Rock. Gearóid McKiernan and Chris Conroy kept Cavan in touch with pointed frees, either side of a Kilkenny point for the Dubs. They opened Cavan up for a goal chance in the thirtieth minute, when Niall Scully drew a good save from Raymond Galligan. The Cavan keeper was having an excellent game with his kickouts, which was a huge plus for them. Dublin were starting to stretch their lead on the scoreboard, however. Rock and Paddy Small kicked some impressive points, before Oisín Kiernan put over a lovely score from the left wing for Cavan. It left a five-point gap between the sides at half time, with the Dubs ahead by 0-12 to 0-7.
The champions began the second half in typically impressive fashion. Three points in a row, from O’Callaghan, Fenton and Paddy Small, stretched out their lead to eight points after five minutes played. Cavan responded with an excellent score from Conor Madden before the Dubs had a goal chance at the other end. Ciarán Kilkenny blasted a shot which beat Galligan, only for Martin Reilly to deflect the ball over the bar. Con O’Callaghan then got his third point, before Kilkenny stretched out the lead to ten points with another score. Martin Reilly then kicked his second for Cavan, but the Dubs were in control. Three points in a row, from O’Callaghan, McDaid and Brian Howard, created a twelve-point gap on the scoreboard. To their credit, Cavan did not fold and fought back with three points in a row. Two excellent scores from the left wing, from Reilly and Kiernan respectively, reduced the margin. James Smith then got his second point after winning the breaking ball from a throw in. Cavan continued to compete well, but the Dubs had another gear.
The champions began to look for goals, opening the Cavan defence up on a couple of occasions. Philly McMahon was put through for a chance but put his shot wide. However, the pressure eventually told in the sixty fourth minute, with Rock setting up Robbie McDaid, who finished to the net. Dublin put their foot on the accelerator after the goal, getting the last three points of the game through Fenton, Rock (free) and Cormac Costello. Thomas Galligan received a second yellow card in injury time to reduce Cavan to fourteen men. It was a frustrating game for Galligan, who was placed on the edge of the square, but failed to get anything out of the long balls kicked in from out the field. The Ulster champions battled gamely, but ultimately were outclassed by the Dubs, who ran out fifteen-point winners. No doubt, Dessie Farrell’s side will be odds on favourites in the final against either Mayo or Tipperary. More history beckons for the champions, who are certainly showing no signs of slowing down at this stage.
Dublin: S. Cluxton, M. Fitzsimons, D. Byrne, E. Murchan; J. Cooper, J. Small, R. McDaid (1-2); B. Fenton (0-4), J. McCarthy; N. Scully, C. Kilkenny (0-4), S. Bugler; P. Small (0-2), C. O’Callaghan (0-4), D. Rock (0-6, 0-2 frees). Subs: B. Howard (0-1) for Bugler (48 mins), P. McMahon for Cooper (51 mins), C. Costello (0-1) for Scully (63 mins), C. Basquel for Rock (70 mins).
Cavan: R. Galligan, J. McLoughlin, P. Faulkner, K. Clarke; G. Smith, Ciarán Brady (0-1), L. Fortune; T. Galligan (0-1), K. Brady; M. Reilly (0-3), G. McKiernan (0-1 free), O. Kiernan (0-2); C. Madden (0-1), C. Conroy (0-1 free), J. Smith (0-2). Subs: C. Smith for K. Brady (17 mins), S. Murray for Conroy (34 mins), N. Murray for Clarke (45 mins), C. Brady for C. Smith (51 mins) S. Smith for Madden (63 mins).
Ref: Ciarán Brannigan (Down).