Leinster SFC Final: Relentless Dublin win again
Leinster SFC Final
DUBLIN 3-21 MEATH 0-9
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
It was a night of history and high emotion at Croke Park and Dublin rose to the unique occasion with a thundering Leinster final performance to secure a remarkable provincial 10-in-a-row.
Dessie Farrell's side wore a special commemorative jersey on the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and cut a dash with a 21-point win, underlining their dominance of the eastern province for the majority of the last 15 years.
Dean Rock top scored for Dublin with 1-7 while Sean Bugler and Niall Scully notched goals too as they secured an All-Ireland semi-final place with the minimum of fuss.
Dublin will play the winners of tomorrow's Ulster final between Donegal and Cavan though they'll be without Cormac Costello who was dismissed for a straight red card offence late in the game.
All of Dublin's forwards got on the scoresheet on a night when the Sky Blues dished out more capital punishment to Meath who they overcame by 16 points in last year's provincial final.
Meath needed everything to go their way and they did open the scoring through joint-captain Bryan Menton within seconds.
The Royals' top scorer, Jordan Morris, fresh from shooting 4-5 in his first two Championship games, struck their second point to level it up at 0-2 apiece after seven minutes.
But they didn't score again until early in the second-half and failed to convert a number of solid scoring opportunities that sapped their momentum and drained their confidence.
Cillian O'Sullivan, tracked by John Small, and Morris both found themselves in good positions but played passes to Bryan McMahon and Menton and the two opportunities came to nought, McMahon quickly crowded out and Menton booting wide.
Meath also landed three score attempts short and Dublin being Dublin jumped onto the offensive, punishing the mistakes with ruthless efficiency.
Rock's eighth minute goal came straight from a Stephen Cluxton kick-out which was caught by Con O'Callaghan, he fed Niall Scully and his vision found Brian Fenton who eyed Rock at the back post.
Paddy Small, Kilkenny and Rock all tagged on points and suddenly Meath found themselves in the Dubs' rearview mirror, trailing by 1-6 to 0-2 at the first water break.
Another Leinster final played in Dublin's slipstream was not how Meath planned it but they were powerless to prevent the mauling.
In all, Dublin reeled off 2-10 without reply in the first-half with Bugler grabbed their second goal in the 23rd minute.
It was another fluid move that cut straight through the heart of Meath's defence, ending with Bugler playing a neat one-two with Robbie McDaid and fisting to the net.
Donal Keogan did a man-marking job on Kilkenny but the Castleknock man still escaped the Meath star for a couple of first-half points.
Dublin led 2-13 to 0-2 at half-time and with the result now certain, the intrigue switched to whether Meath would manage more than the 0-4 they struck in last year's final.
That issue was put to bed when sub Jason Scully scored Meath's fifth point in the 63rd minute and the underdogs finished with a series of points to take some consolation from the occasion.
Ronan Jones was black carded in the closing stages for Meath though Costello's dismissal will hit Dublin even harder as he will be unavailable for their All-Ireland semi-final tie.
Dublin at least finished on a high with Templeogue Synge Street man Scully palming to the net in the 72nd minute for their third goal.
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-7 (5fs, 145), Sean Bugler 1-2, Niall Scully 1-1, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-4, Paddy Small 0-3 (2ms), Con O'Callaghan 0-2, Paul Mannion 0-1 (1f), John Small 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: Jordan Morris 0-4 (1f), Thomas O'Reilly 0-1 (1f), Cillian O'Sullivan 0-1, Bryan Menton 0-1, Jason Scully 0-1, Joey Wallace 0-1 (m).
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Eoin Murchan, Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne; Jonny Cooper, John Small, Robbie McDaid; James McCarthy, Brian Fenton; Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Sean Bugler; Paddy Small, Con O'Callaghan, Dean Rock.
Subs: Brian Howard for Cooper h/t, Paul Mannion for Small (42), Eric Lowndes for J Small (53), Cormac Costello for O'Callaghan (59), Kevin McManamon for Kilkenny (65).
MEATH: Marcus Brennan; Ronan Ryan, Conor McGill, David Toner; Seamus Lavin, Donal Keogan, Mathew Costello; Bryan Menton, Ronan Jones; Bryan McMahon, Cillian O'Sullivan, Shane McEntee; Thomas O'Reilly, Shane Walsh, Jordan Morris.
Subs: Cathal Hickey for Toner (44), Eoin Harkin for McGill (44), Ethan Devine for Costello (46), Jason Scully for McMahon (52), Joey Wallace for O'Reilly (53).
REFEREE: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).