Dublin power past Galway into All-Ireland SFC Final
All-Ireland SFC semi-final
DUBLIN 1-24 GALWAY 2-12
By John Harrington at Croke Park
It’s beginning to look like this Dublin team won’t let up until any debate about the greatest of all time is a moot one.
The Kerry team of the 1970s and ‘80s is still more highly regarded in some quarters, but that may well soon be a minority opinion.
Dublin are now one win away from equalling that Kingdom achievement of four All-Irelands in a row, and on the basis of this comfortable win over Galway you wouldn’t bet against them reaching that landmark.
After a fairly competitive first-half they just moved remorselessly through the gears in the second and by the end had filleted the Connacht champions with their pace, power, and ruthless finishing.
Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, and Ciaran Kilkenny were effervescent in the Dublin attack, Brian Fenton ran the show in midfield, and their defending was as full-blooded as ever.
A special mention must go to Jack McCaffrey who was absolutely outstanding at wing-back and has clearly made a full recovery form the torn cruciate ligament he suffered in last year's All-Ireland Final.
Galway did their very best to compete and had some good moments in the first half, but in the final analysis they simply couldn’t get to Dublin’s level.
The match started ominously for the Tribesmen. Dublin were bossing possession, and looked capable of scoring every time they broke into the opposition half.
The hard-pressed Galway defence were being forced to foul, and two converted frees from Dean Rock followed up Paul Mannion’s opening score to give Dublin an early three-point lead.
But just when it looked like Dublin were settling into a remorseless rhythm, they hit with a Damien Comer haymaker.
Ciaran Duggan floated a lovely delivery into the Dublin square and Comer rose above Philly McMahon and Stephen Cluxton to fist the ball to the back of the net.
Cluxton was scrambling again seconds later when his kick-out to Eoin Murchan was intercepted by Damien Comer who managed a first-time shot on the ground that was saved by the Dublin goalkeeper.
Despite that miss, Galway were surfing on a sudden wave of momentum now and they went ahead when Shane Walsh kicked a typically classy point on the run.
Brian Howard drew Dublin level, but then Galway had a glorious chance to hit Dublin with another hammer-blow when Comer won a penalty after being felled in the square by Jonny Cooper.
Eamonn Brannigan stepped up to take the kick, but Cluxton pulled off a brilliant save as he got a strong left hand to the Galway man’s low, well struck kick.
As if energised by that close shave, Dublin upped the ante to score the next three points of the match through ever-industrious Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton, and Rock (f).
Galway were still very much in the game, though, and were being inspired by corner-forward Ian Burke who was the sharpest thorn in Dublin’s side.
In a four-minute spell he scored a point and then won two frees that Shane Walsh pointed to level the game up once more.
This Dublin team always has the Cobra-like ability to suddenly flex their muscles and strike, and that’s what happened when Con O’Callaghan goaled after 27 minutes.
It was brilliantly executed move as Jonny Cooper won a Cluxton kick-out and passed to Brian Fenton who picked out the flying Jack McCaffrey on the right wing.
The Clontarf man’s pace opened up the Galway defence and when he passed to Niall Scully the wing-forward had the presence of mind to immediately hand-pass the ball across the face of the Galway goal to O’Callaghan who palmed it to the back of the net.
Dublin stretched their lead to four points by the 32nd minute, but Galway clawed it back to a more manageable two before half-time thanks to nice points from Walsh and Johnny Heaney.
Unfortunately for Galway, they’d never get any closer to Dublin.
Just like he had in the first half, Paul Mannion opened the scoring in the second for Dublin, and they went from strength to strength thereafter.
When Galway attacked, they were more often than not turned over by strong Dublin tackling or else they kicked the ball away cheaply.
Whereas Dublin on the other hand were more patient in possession and so better able to create genuine scoring opportunities.
A Ciaran Kilkenny point that put them 1-12 to 1-8 ahead after 42 minutes summed up all that was good about Dublin’s play.
Galway had plenty of men behind the ball inside their own ’45, but Dublin simply kept possession and dragged the Galway defence this way and that until they finally got the ball to a man in space who had a clear shooting opportunity.
Galway sent on Michael Daly to give them some attacking inspiration and he did manage to kick a fine point shortly after his introduction, but Dublin would also have the edge in terms of impact substitutes.
They summoned Cormac Costello and he landed two points in quick succession to push Dublin seven clear.
There was no way back for Galway now – a last-gasp Shane Walsh goal would prove little more than window-dressing - and Dublin had the luxury of emptying their subs bench in the closing minutes.
That did little to dilute their superiority with revved up replacements Kevin McManamon and Paul Flynn kicking a combined three points.
It was all very comfortable in the end for the reigning champions, and regardless of who they meet in the All-Ireland Final they’ll go into it as red-hot favourites to make it a famous four-in-a-row.
Scorers for Dublin: Con O’Callaghan 1-3, Dean Rock 0-5 (4f), Paul Mannion 0-4, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-3, Cormac Costello 0-3 (1f), Brian Fenton 0-2, Kevin McManamon 0-2, Brian Howard 0-1, Paul Flynn 0-1.
Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 1-5 (3f), Damien Comer 1-1, Ian Burke 0-2, Thomas Flynn 0-1, Johnny Heaney 0-1, Gary O’Donnell 0-1, Michael Daly 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, Philly McMahon, Eoin Murchan; John Small, Cian O’Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Brian Howard, Ciaran Kilkenny, Niall Scully; Paul Mannion, Dean Rock, Con O’Callaghan. Subs: Michael Fitzsimons for Cian O’Sullivan (28), Cormac Costello for Niall Scully (44), Kevin McManamon for Dean Rock (56), Michael Darragh MacAuley for Eoin Murchan (58), Darren Daly for John Small (56), Paul Flynn for Jack McCaffrey (68)
GALWAY: Ruairi Lavelle; Declan Kyne, Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Eoghan Kerin; Cathal Sweeney, Gareth Bradshaw, Johnny Heaney; Ciaran Duggan, Thomas Flynn; Shane Walsh, Sean Armstrong, Sean Kelly; Ian Burke, Damien Comer, Eamonn Brannigan. Subs: Michael Daly for Sean Armstrong (46), Peter Cooke for Eamonn Brannigan (50), Gary O’Donnell for Cathal Sweeney (56), Adrian Varley for Johnny Heaney (59), Kieran Molloy for Eoghan Kerin (66), Johnny Duane for Gareth Bradshaw (68)
Ref: Barry Cassidy (Derry)