As many predicted Dublin got their Leinster Championship campaign off to a winning start yesterday evening in a routine victory over Carlow in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise.
It was a fairly dull affair for the patrons in attendance mainly down to the all too familiar set up by opposing teams that face Dublin, Carlow followed suit putting 14 and at times 15 players inside their own half.
The result was a game that failed to excite with the ball moving in the main backwards and sideways for much of the game. Carlow’s persistent fouling also made the game very stop, start throughout with very little flow to the game.
A game of football did threaten to break out on a number of occasions particularly in the first half with Jack McCaffrey and Niall Scully to the fore with some intelligent interplay between the pair.
Carlow started off with plenty of enthusiasm which was to be expected after their win over Wexford the last day out and they hit a couple of brilliant long range points in the opening half.
Carlow hit the first point of the game in the 2nd minute from midfielder Brendan Murphy. But two Dean Rock frees in the space of a couple of minutes put Dublin in front.
Carlow drew level in the 9th minute from a free scored by Paul Broderick. The Carlow tactics were designed to frustrate Dublin and keep the score down and in the early part of the opening half they did just that with no space for the metropolitans forwards to exploit including the much talked about Con O’ Callaghan who was making his senior debut.
But Jack McCaffrey and Niall Scully punched holes in the packed defence with some clever quick interplay and the Clontarf flyer hit a beauty of a point from the right hand side to put the Jim Gavin’s men back in front.
Carlow’s ultra defensive set up even on their own kick outs allowed the Sky Blues to push high up the pitch and put severe pressure on the Scallion eaters backline.
It paid off as they forced mistakes and turnovers. One such turnover resulted in a free which Dean Rock dispatched with nonchalant ease. Two more points followed from Paul Mannion from an acute angle and another excellent finish from McCaffrey.
Carlow were relying on the quick counter attack and although it did cause some problems for the Dubs defence in the early stages, as the game went on it became less of a issue for the sky blues backline.
Twenty five minutes in and Sean Murphy hit a monster score for Carlow from distance. The teams exchanged a brace of points between them, Dublin’s Niall Scully and Ciaran Kilkenny hit a point apiece with two excellent finishes and Carlow responded with two frees scored by Paul Broderick and Darragh Foley.
That left the score at the short whistle 0-08 to 0-05 in Dublin’s favour, it could and maybe should have been a bigger gap, but some wayward shooting from Dublin forwards put paid to that.
The early part of the second period followed a similar pattern to the first, six minutes in and a Dean Rock free stretched Dublin’s lead to four. Carlow’s Danny Moran reduced the lead back to three with a well struck point in the 44th minute.
Then disaster struck for the Barrowsiders when midfielder Brendan Murphy got his marching orders on a second yellow card for an off the ball incident with Jonny Cooper in 48th minute.
With that dismissal it was then just a matter of how much Dublin would win by. Another Dean Rock free was quickly followed by another brilliant point from the influential Ciaran Kilkenny.
Gavin started to empty his bench in came Bernard Brogan for Kevin McManamon, Jack McCaffrey was called ashore with Shane Carthy replacing him. Bernard Brogan made an immediate impact with a customary well taken point.
Cue more substitutions, former Dublin hurler Mark Schutte made his senior football debut replacing Niall Scully and Dean Rock came off for Conor McHugh.
With Rock off the pitch Con O’Callaghan took over the free taking duties and he let no one down hitting two successful frees in a row straight over the black spot.
Dublin made their final two substitutions bringing in David Byrne and Denis Bastick for Cian O’Sullivan and Brian Fenton.
Carlow got their final score of the game with two minutes of normal time remaining from a Paul Broderick free.
But Dublin relentlessly drove on to the final whistle and hit four unanswered points to wrap up the game, three from open play from Bernard Brogan, Conor McHugh and Ciaran Kilkenny and the last score of the match was a sublime 45′ scored by Diarmuid Connolly who had a run-in earlier in the second half with a linesman that might yet see him miss a chunk of the season.
Dublin will now look forward to a Leinster SFC semi-final in a few weeks against either Westmeath or Offaly but they will have plenty to work on before that game.
Dean Rock 0-06 (6f)
Ciaran Kilkenny 0-03
Jack McCaffrey 0-02
Con O’Callaghan 0-02 (2f)
Bernard Brogan 0-02
Paul Mannion 0-01
Niall Scully 0-01
Diarmuid Connolly 0-01 (’45)
Conor McHugh 0-01
Paul Broderick 0-03 (3f)
Brendan Murphy 0-01
Sean Murphy 0-01
Danny Moran 0-01
Darragh Foley 0-01 (1f)
1. Stephen Cluxton
2. Michael Fitzsimons
3. Jonny Cooper
4. Eric Lowndes
5. Niall Scully
6. Cian O’Sullivan
7. Jack McCaffrey
8. Brian Fenton
9. James McCarthy
10. Ciarán Kilkenny
11. Diarmuid Connolly
12. Paul Mannion
13. Kevin McManamon
14. Con O’Callaghan
15. Dean Rock
19. Bernard Brogan For 13. Kevin McManamon (45th Min)
21. Shane Carthy For 7. Jack McCaffrey (52nd Min)
26. Mark Schutte For 5. Niall Scully (57th Min)
23. Conor McHugh For 15. Dean Rock (58th Min)
20. David Byrne For 6. Cian O’Sullivan (63rd Min)
18. Denis Bastick For 8. Brian Fenton (66th Min)
1. Craig Kearney
2. Chris Crowley
3. Shane Redmond
4. Conor Lawlor
5. Danny Moran
6. Daniel St Ledger
7. Gary Kelly
8. Brendan Murphy
9. Séan Murphy
10. Eoghan Ruth
11. Darragh Foley
12. Alan Kelly
13. Paul Broderick
19. Sean Gannon
15. John Murphy
14. Ciaran Moran For 9. Sean Murphy (20th Min) (Blood Sub)
20. Mark Rennick For 12. Alan Kelly (40th Min)
21. Shane Clarke For 10. Eoghan Ruth (52nd Min)
22. Jamie Clarke For 7. Gary Kelly (59th Min)
18. Kieran Nolan For 2. Chris Crowley (63rd Min)
17. Barry John Molloy For 5. Danny Moran (67th Min)
14. Ciaran Moran For 13. Paul Broderick (68th Min)