A late surge from from 14 man Dublin finally got them past a tough Galway challenge to lift their fifth league title in six years and ninth national title since Jim Gavin took over as manager.
Galway though made them work hard for the victory and with twelve minutes left on the clock and Dublin light a player after the 50th minute dismissal of Niall Scully on a second yellow the sides were tied at 0-13 apiece.
But it was Dublin who dominated till the final whistle showing all their experience, guile, quality, game management and unquenchable appetite for success to claim the honours.
It was an intriguing contest throughout which may have lacked a sense of excitement but tactically was fascinating. Galway’s run the Allianz League Final was based on a blanket defence and quick counterattacking and today was no different.
Tactically Dublin mirrored their opponents to avoid being outnumbered when the men in maroon broke forward and both sides flooded players into their own half when they didn’t have the ball and leaving a lone attacker up front.
Dublin almost got off to the perfect start inside the opening 15 seconds but a superb save from Galway keeper Ruairi Lavelle denied Paul Mannion a certain goal.
Dublin win the Div 1 Allianz Football League! Stephen Cluxton lifts the cup! pic.twitter.com/V11Z1dF0yV
— The GAA (@officialgaa) April 1, 2018
The men from the West had their keeper to thank on two more occasions during the game as he denied Mannion again in the first half tipping over a pile driver from the Kilmacud Crokes and then in the second half he pulled off a brilliant save from a Dean Rock shot.
There was little to separate the sides in the first half and they were level on five different occasions.
Damien Comer caused the sky blue defence plenty of problems in the opening quarter until Philly McMahon put him on the back foot by breaking forward and forcing the Galway man to follow him back towards his own goal and away from the Dublin square.
At the other end Paul Mannion, Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock were giving the Galway defenders plenty to think about. Two quick fire points from Rock and Mannion in the third minute got Dublin up and running.
A Barry McHugh converted free and a Johnny Heaney point had the sides level in the tenth minute. Dublin retook the lead with a fine score from John Small but it was all square again.
Niall Scully and Ciaran Kilkenny pushed Jim Gavin’s side two in front, but back came Galway and two Damien Comer points, one from a free and the other from open play restored parity.
The sides traded points till the half time break and as they headed to the dressing rooms under the Hogan Stand there was nothing separating them with the score 0-08 apiece.
Dublin have won the Div 1 Allianz Football League beating Galway, Watch the Full-Time highlights here on GAANOW! pic.twitter.com/bJ8vcLuHaJ
— The GAA (@officialgaa) April 1, 2018
Gavin introduced Colm Basquel for the start of the second half and he made an immediate impact with a fine point just after the restart. Barry McHugh converted a free to once again bring the team’s level.
But Dublin up the pace and hit three points on the bounce from a Dean Rock free, and one each from Paul Mannion and Colm Basquel to surge ahead.
Galway though were not about to bow down and helped by the dismissal of Scully they were level again with 16 minute of normal time remaining thanks to two Shane Walsh points one from a free and another successful dead ball strike from Barry McHugh.
But Dublin made light of their numerical disadvantage to dominate till the finish and they got an added spark with the introduction of Con O’Callaghan after his exploits with the Cuala hurlers.
The boys in blue outscored the maroon clad men by 0-06 to 0-02 going down the home straight with three from Dean Rock and one apiece from Ciaran Kilkenny, Philly McMahon and Eric Lowndes, the two Galway points came from the boot of Damien Comer.
When the full time whistle went to officially end proceedings there could be few complaints from Galway at the result, Dublin were the deserving winners in the end and showed once more they are the standard bearers and it’s going to take something special to stop them in the upcoming championship.
Dean Rock 0-07 (6f)
Paul Mannion 0-03
Ciaran Kilkenny 0-02
Colm Basquel 0-02
Philly McMahon 0-01
John Small 0-01
Niall Scully 0-01
Eric Lowndes 0-01
Barry McHugh 0-05 (4f)
Damien Comer 0-04 (1f)
Johnny Heaney 0-02
Shane Walsh 0-02 (1f)
Paul Conroy 0-01
1. Stephen Cluxton
2. Philip McMahon
3. Michael Fitzsimons
4. David Byrne
5. James McCarthy
6. Jonny Cooper
7. John Small
8. Brian Fenton
9. Michael Darragh Macauley
10. Brian Howard
11. Kevin McManamon
12. Niall Scully
13. Dean Rock
14. Ciarán Kilkenny
22. Paul Mannion
21. Eric Lowndes for James McCarthy (35th min)
17. Colm Basquel for Kevin McManamon (HT)
24. Eoin Murchan for John Small (40th Min)
15. Con O’Callaghan for Michael Darragh Macauley (61st Min)
18. Shane Carthy (St Vincent’s) for Mannion (67th Min)
7. Small for McMahon (72nd Min)
1. Ruairi Lavelle
2. Declan Kyne
3. Sean Andy O Ceallaigh
4. Eoghan Kerin
5. Gareth Bradshaw
6. Cathal Sweeney
7. Johnny Heaney
8. Peter Cooke
9. Ciaran Duggan
10. Eamonn Brannigan
11. Paul Conroy
12. Sean Kelly
13. Barry McHugh
14. Damien Comer
24. Shane Walsh
21. Gary O’Donnell for Johnny Heaney (61st Min)
20. Thomas Flynn for Peter Cooke (66th Min)
22. Patrick Sweeney for Paul Conroy (68th Min)
23. Adrian Varley for Shane Walsh (68th Min)
19. Johnny Duane for Gareth Bradshaw (69th Min)