A strong second-quarter showing set the tone as Dublin eased to a comprehensive twenty-one point victory over Louth in their one-sided Leinster Senior Football Championship final at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon.
In doing so, the Dubs secured their thirteenth successive provincial title and while the contest was evenly matched in the opening quarter, Dublin moved through the gears to leave their opponents floundering by the final whistle.
Paul Mannion’s first-half goal helped Dublin to a 1-12 to 0-6 interval lead with James McCarthy, Sean Bugler, Paddy Small and Colm Basquel also finding the net after the break to complete a positive afternoon for Dessie Farrell’s charges.
There was a more familiar look to the Dublin line-up as Brian Howard, Jack McCaffrey and Niall Scully all started in the place of Tom Lahiff, Cian Murphy and Basquel but they took their time to settle as they fell behind to a Sam Mulroy free in the 4th minute.
Dublin finally levelled matters through a Cormac Costello free six minutes later with Mulroy and Bugler trading points soon after an equitable opening to the decider.
Mulroy restored Louth’s lead in the 13th minute with a cracking point but it proved the high point for the challengers as Dublin began to take control with Costello and bugler once again on target.
Louth’s kick-out began to implode, allowing Dublin a critical dominance in terms of possession and they led by double scores (0-6 to 0-3) by the 20th minute following a Costello ‘45’ and a Con O’Callaghan pointed mark.
The procession towards the Louth goal continued unabated as Costello added his first point from play and Dublin’s first goal arrived in the 24th minute as Mannion was on hand to palm home after a precise pass across the goal from O’Callaghan.
McCaffrey (2), O’Callaghan, Bugler and Mannion (free) all added to Dublin’s advantage before Louth finally gained a level of control as they kicked the final three points of the half through Mulroy, Conor Grimes and Craig Lennon to trim their deficit to nine points by half-time.
They maintained that momentum in the early stages of the second-half through unanswered points by Mulroy and Liam Jackson with Costello and Mulroy exchanging frees as the contest evolved.
However, Dublin effectively settled the issue in the 46th minute as a speculative ball from Mannion eventually found its way into the path of McCarthy, whose left foot shot found the net via a deflection.
An O’Callaghan brace and a Ciaran Kilkenny point reflected the one-way nature of the contest although Stephen Cluxton was afforded an opportunity to showcase his prowess with an excellent tip-over save from Grimes.
Kilkenny’s second point of the day preceded Dublin’s third goal in the 56th minute as Bugler put the finishing touches to a well-worked team move.
Mulroy continued to impress at the opposite end, finishing with 0-10 to his name, but his scores were nothing more than consolation efforts as Dublin added a fourth goal in the 69th minute as Small rose highest to flick home after Lee Gannon’s shot had cannoned off the crossbar.
There was sufficient time for Basquel to fire home Dublin’s fifth goal deep into added time, with Seán MacMahon’s point a fitting manner in which to conclude a dominant display from the holders.
Scorers – Dublin: S Bugler 1-3, C Costello 0-5 (3f, 1 ’45), P Mannion 1-1 (0-1f), C O’Callaghan 0-4 (2 marks), C Kilkenny 0-3, J McCarthy, P Small, C Basquel 1-0 each, J McCaffrey 0-2, D Rock, J Small, S MacMahon 0-1 apiece. Louth: S Mulroy 0-10 (7f, 1 ’45), C Grimes 0-2, C Lennon, L Jackson, C Downey 0-1 apiece.
Dublin: S Cluxton; D Newcombe, D Byrne, L Gannon; B Howard, J Small, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, J McCarthy; N Scully, S Bugler, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, C O’Callaghan, C Costello. Subs: C Murphy for McCaffrey (31), P Small for Scully (52), D Rock for Costello (52), C Basquel for Mannion (59), S MacMahon for Howard (63).
Louth: J Califf; D Corcoran, N Sharkey, D McKenny; L Grey, P Lynch, C Murphy; T Durnin, C Early; C McKeever, C Downey, C Grimes; D McConnon, S Mulroy, L Jackson. Subs: C Lennon for McConnon (26), A Williams for Murphy (31), C McCaul for Jackson (41), P Matthews for Early (55), R Burns for Corcoran (68).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).