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Galway give battling display but Dublin finish strong to collect Division 1 league crown

It was a ninth national title for Dublin under Jim Gavin.

Dublin 0-18

Galway 0-14

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

DUBLIN PICKED UP their ninth national title under Jim Gavin with a battling four-point win over Galway in an entertaining Division 1 final this afternoon.

Ciarán Kilkenny with Gareth Bradshaw Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Galway gave a fine account of themselves and ran Dublin close in front of 36,754, but the All-Ireland champions scored the final three points of the game to collect the 17th Allianz Football League crown in their history.

Dublin continued their remarkable final record since Gavin took charge, having lost just one decider since 2013. Last year’s league final loss to Kerry is the only blot on the copybook.

The teams were locked on 0-8 apiece at half-time and while Dublin led through the second-half, they did lose Niall Scully to a second yellow card on 50 minutes.

Not long after Scully’s dismissal, Gavin sent on Con O’Callaghan, who played a key role in Cuala’s All-Ireland final replay success just eight days earlier. O’Callaghan looked lively when he was introduced, setting up a key score for Ciaran Kilkenny, and he picked up another national medal this afternoon.

It was a game that pitted the best attacking team in Division 1 against the best defence and the big pre-match question was how Galway’s backline would cope against the Dublin attack in the wide expanses of Croke Park.

This game was further evidence that Kevin Walsh’s men are on the right track as their rearguard performed well, but they didn’t quite have the firepower off the bench to get over the line.

Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock looked dangerous throughout while Colm Basquel bagged two points after coming on at half-time. On a worrying note for the winners, they lost James McCarthy to injury shortly before the interval.

Dean Rock with Eoghan Kerin and Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Two weeks ago these sides drew 0-13 apiece in Salthill and this was another tight, physical affair. Ultimately it was Dublin’s experience and big-game knowhow that denied Galway a first league title since 1981.

It’s Galway’s first defeat of 2018 after going through the league unbeaten but they’ll head for the Connacht quarter-final against Mayo in good spirits. Damien Comer looked unmarkable at stages and drew countless fouls, while Barry McHugh was extremely accurate on the frees and Johnny Heaney scored a fine brace.

Galway’s system saw them typically leave two forwards up – usually Shane Walsh or Eamonn Brannigan along with Comer up front – while their half-forwards dropped inside their own half when they defended.

Damien Comer and Philip McMahon Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Comer troubled the Dublin rearguard from early on, scoring a point of his own and winning a couple of handy frees for McHugh to convert. Philly McMahon was booked for taking down Comer, while Johnny Cooper escaped punishment for a separate drag down in front of goals.

Scully, Kilkenny and the dangerous Paul Mannion all raised white flags to leave Dublin 0-5 to 0-3 ahead after the opening quarter.

Galway posted five of the last seven scores prior to the break, including a booming effort from McHugh and a fantastic Paul Conroy effort after he sold Mannion with a delightful dummy.

The sides were level at 0-8 apiece at the interval but Dublin surged clear in the third quarter with efforts from substitute Colm Basquel, Rock (free) and and Mannion.

Walsh stroked over a stunning left-footed free from the right flank and then Scully was dismissed for a high tackle on Conroy. McHugh fired over that placed ball and Walsh one clipped over to bring the Tribesmen on level terms.

Rock forced an excellent save from Ruairi Lavelle and scored the resultant 45, while O’Callaghan fed Kilkenny for another. Comer and McMahon traded scores, but late points from Lowndes and Rock (free) won it for the Dubs.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 45), Paul Mannion 0-3, Colm Basquel 0-2, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-2, Niall Scully 0-1, John Small 0-1, Philly McMahon 0-1, Eric Lowndes 0-1.

Scorers for Galway: Barry McHugh 0-6 (0-5f), Damien Comer 0-3, Johnny Heaney 0-2, Shane Walsh 0-2 (0-1f), Paul Conroy 0-1.

Dublin

1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnell’s)
3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
2. Philip McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
4. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf)

5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
6. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)
7. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
9. Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda’s)

12. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
14. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
10. Brian Howard (Raheny)

11. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s)
13. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
22. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)

Subs

21. Eric Lowndes (St. Peregrines) for McCarthy (35 mins)
17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for McManamon (ht)
24. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna) for Small (40)
15. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala) for Macauley (61)
18. Shane Carthy (St Vincent’s) for Mannion (67)
7. Small for McMahon (72)

Galway

1. Ruairi Lavelle (Renvyle)

2. Declan Kyne (Clonbur)
3. Sean Andy O Ceallaigh (Naomh Ánna Leitir Mór)
4. Eoghan Kerin (Annaghdown)

5. Gareth Bradshaw (Moycullen)
6. Cathal Sweeney (Killannin)
12. Sean Kelly (Moycullen)

9. Ciaran Duggan (Annaghdown)
11. Paul Conroy (St James’)

7. Johnny Heaney (Killannin)
10. Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael’s)
8. Peter Cooke (Moycullen)

24. Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin-Clonberne)

13. Barry McHugh (Mountbellew/Moylough)
14. Damien Comer (Annaghdown)

Subs

21. Gary O’Donnell (Realta Thuama) for Heaney (61)
20. Thomas Flynn (Baile Atha n Ri) for Cooke (66)
22. Patrick Sweeney (Cill Ainnin) for Conroy (68)
23. Adrian Varley (Seamroga Cortuin) for Walsh (68)
19. Johnny Duane (Naomh Seamus) for Bradshaw (69)

*An earlier version of this article stated that it was Dublin’s 10th national title under Jim Gavin. It’s their ninth title.

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Kevin O'Brien

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