As Dublin look towards Donegal in this year’s league Semi Final, we look back a close encounter in February of last year
Dessie Farrell’s Dublin side maintained their unbeaten league run with victory over Donegal at the end of February.
Dublin started the game slowly and for the second game in a row conceded an early goal. But the sky blues soon found their feet and finished the half on the up and by the break having trailed by five at one stage in the opening half, Dublin headed to the dressing rooms just two adrift.
Donegal extended their lead out to four points shortly after the resumption but Dublin were controlling the tempo and the bulk of possession and by the 60th minute the sides were level.
Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Howard were pulling the strings and driving the Dubs forward at every opportunity.
With Donegal dropping deep David Byrne and Michael Fitzsimons piled forward opening up space in the Donegal rearguard with numerous incisive runs from deep.
The five in-a-row All Ireland champions could smell blood and they got their noses in front with four minutes of normal time remaining when Paul Mannion bundled the ball to the net.
Donegal did manage to reduce the deficit to a single point just before the final whistle, but Dublin held on for their second league win of the campaign to continue their unbeaten league run.
There was late drama before the finish with Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Dublin’s John Small involved in a scuffle which resulted in both players sent off on second yellows.
Just before the start of the game Craig Dias was a surprise inclusion to the starting Dublin team replacing James McCarthy.
Dias an All Ireland winner in 2011 hasn’t played for Dublin for a number of years and he found the going tough in the first 35 minutes and was replaced at half-time by Cormac Costello.
Donegal were the better side in the opening quarter of the game and overran Dessie Farrell’s charges who continued the trend seen in their opening three games of starting off slowly.
Two minutes in and Michael Murphy was very lucky to not see red for a high tackle on David Byrne. And Donegal grabbed the opening score of the game three minutes later with a pointed free from Ciaran Thompson.
In the sixth minute Dublin were left reeling as Hugh McFadden bagged a goal. Sean Bugler opened Dublin’s account with a well taken point.
All that is wrong with the advanced mark was evidenced again in the 12th minute as Michael Murphy got out a yard ahead of his marker to catch a chest high ball and claim the mark which he dispatched over the bar with ease.
From the next attack Ciarán Kilkenny claimed a mark himself and swung it over the bar. Murphy and Dean Rock swapped frees and then in the 20th minute Murphy flicked a ball onto Ryan McHugh who played a quick one-two with Jamie Brennan, but his shot at goal was saved brilliantly by Evan Comerford.
Jamie Brennan gathered the loose ball and fisted it over the bar. Another point from Brennan stretched the Donegal lead but Dublin outscored their opponents by four points to one in the closing stages of the half with efforts from Brian Howard, Sean Bugler, Dean Rock and Ciaran Kilkenny reducing the Donegal lead to just two points at the break with the score 1-06 to 0-07.
Points from Ciarán Thompson and Peader Mogan inside the opening minute of the second half put Donegal four in front.
That lead was reduced to the bare minimum by the 46th minute with points from Dean Rock from a free, Cormac Costello and a brilliant individual effort from Brian Howard.
Murphy and Rock exchanged points, Peader Mogan and Michael Murphy added further points to again put three points between the teams with 16 minutes left to play.
Brian Fenton turned the ball over on the 20 metre line, took a couple of steps to the right and swung a nice effort over the bar. Seconds later he added another point to leave just a point in it.
Dublin though had keeper Evan Comerford to thank for thwarting Donegal grabbing a second goal.
Eoghan Ban Gallagher ran at the Dublin defence, he slipped the ball to Niall O’Donnell off his shoulder who in turn passed the ball to Paddy McBrearty, Comerford dived full length and saved the Kilcar forwards shot at goal.
A minute later and second half substitute Colm Basquel glided past two Donegal defenders and swung the ball over for the equaliser.
Dublin’s tails were up and they pressed forward, Brian Howard attempted a long range effort at a point but the Raheny man lost his footing and his attempt dropped short.
But Donegal keeper Shaun Patton fumbled the ball and Paul Mannion was on hand to bundle the ball to the net and with four minute of normal time left Dublin led by three.
David Byrne who was excellent both in defence and breaking forward to supplement the attack, broke forward again in the second minute of added time to score an excellent point.
Donegal reeled off three points from Murphy, Hugh McFadden and McBrearty deep in stoppage time.
But as the attack progressed to the McBrearty point Murphy and his marker all night Paddy Small were involved in a wrestling match on the ground and both players were shown their second yellow cards of the game and sent to the stands.
Shortly afterwards the full time whistle was blown and Dublin maintained their unbeaten league run with a one point victory.
15. Dean Rock 0-04 (3f)
13. Paul Mannion 1-00
12. Sean Bugler 0-02
11. Ciarán Kilkenny 0-02
10. Brian Howard 0-02
8. Brian Fenton 0-02
20. Cormac Costello 0-01
17. Colm Basquel 0-01
3. David Byrne 0-01
14. Michael Murphy 0-05 (3f)
8. Hugh McFadden 1-01
11. Ciaran Thompson 0-02
15. Jamie Brennan 0-02
20. Peadar Mogan 0-02
9. Michael Langan 0-01
13. Patrick McBrearty 0-01
1. Evan Comerford
2. Eoin Murchan
3. Davy Byrne
4. Mick Fitzsimons
5. Niall Scully
6. John Small
7. Cillian O’Shea
8. Brian Fenton
9. Craig Dias
10. Brian Howard
11. Ciarán Kilkenny
12. Sean Bugler
13. Paul Mannion
14. Kevin McManamon
15. Dean Rock
20. Cormac Costello for Dias (HT)
17. Colm Basquel for McManamon (51)
18. Aaron Byrne for Bufgler (67)
26. Paddy Small for Rock (72)
1. Shaun Patton
2. Caolan Ward
3. Neil McGee
4. Eoin Ban Gallagher
5. Ryan McHugh
22. Daire Ó Baoil
7. Odhran McFadden Ferry
8. Hugh McFadden
9. Michael Langan
10. Paul Brennan
11. Ciaran Thompson
12. Caolan McGonagle
20. Peadar Mogan
14. Michael Murphy
15. Jamie Brennan
17. Niall O’Donnell for Paul Brennan (46)
13. Patrick McBrearty for McGonagle (51)
24. Brendan McCole for Ward (54)
19. Eoin McHugh for Jamie Brennan (61)