Good afternoon and welcome back to Croke Park where we’re gearing up for this year’s Leinster senior football final. For the third straight year, it’s old rivals Dublin and Meath duking it out for the provincial title.
Throw-in is at 2pm.
Here’s the Dublin team. Three changes to the team named earlier this week — Fitzsimons, McCaffrey and Mannion all start.
1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)
2. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
3. Rory O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes)
21. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
6. Nicky Devereux (Ballinteer St John’s)
19. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf)
8. Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
9. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
10. Paul Flynn (Fingallians)
11. Alan Brogan (Oliver Plunkett’s / Eoghan Rua)
12. Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincent’s)
13. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s)
20. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
15. Bernard Brogan (Oliver Plunkett’s / Eoghan Rua)
And here’s the Meath team — one late change with Dalton McDonagh starting in place of Brian Meade. Expect McDonagh to go in at corner-forward with Graham Reilly dropping back out to midfield.
1. Paddy O’Rourke (Skryne)
2. Eoghan Harrington (Wolfe Tones)
3. Kevin Reilly (Navan O’Mahony’s)
4. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore / Ashbourne)
5. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey)
6. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
7. Donncha Tobin (Blackhall Gaels)
13. Graham Reilly (St Colmcille’s)
9. Shane O’Rourke (Simonstown Gaels)
10. Damien Carroll (Ballinabrackey)
11. Brian McMahon (Ratoath)
12. Andrew Tormey (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
20. Dalton McDonagh (Na Fianna)
14. Stephen Bray (Navan O’Mahony’s)
15. Mickey Newman (Kilmainham)
The teams have just finished the parade. The Hill looks to be packed to capacity — I’d take a guess at about 55,000 in Croke Park at the moment.
THROW IN: We’re up and running. Dublin will shoot into the Hill in this first half and they’ve an early free.
Dublin 0-1 Meath 0-0: 1 mins – Bernard Brogan points the free.
Jack McCaffrey storms out from the half-back line and finds Alan Brogan, but his shot drops short into O’Rourke’s hands.
Stephen Bray sets up Mickey Newman but his first shot drifts left and wide.
Fiery start to this game as you would expect. Nobody is getting much time on the ball and there are plenty of robust challenges, for want of a better description!
Dublin 0-1 Meath 0-1: 6 mins — O’Rourke tiptoes in from the Hogan Stand side to steal a few feet and points a free to get Meath on the board.
Fine battling by Kev McManamon through the middle. He ships it off to Paul Flynn but his shot hits the post and is cleared by Meath.
8 mins – Diarmuid Connolly assumes the free-taking duties over on the Cusack Stand side but he can’t hit the target. Bad miss.
Dublin 0-2 Meath 0-1: 9 mins – Donncha Tobin tries to put Connolly under pressure in possession but it’s deemed a foul. Bernard Brogan points his second free.
Mickey Newman is going to be a handful for this Dublin defence. He bursts past Nicky Devereux, who can thank Rory O’Carroll for coming to his aid.
Dublin 0-3 Meath 0-1: 11 mins – Connolly slips through the tackle of two Meath men and confidently kicks the first score from play of the afternoon.
Advantage is played in Dublin’s favour after Devereux is fouled. The ball squirts towards the Meath goal but Tobin has the speed and the strength to get their just ahead of McManamon and knock it behind for a 45.
Dublin 0-4 Meath 0-1: 14 mins – Cluxton points it.
Mannion has a snifter of a chance to get in on goal but it’s superbly defended by Keogan. At the other end, Rory O’Carroll is similarly alert for Dublin.
Dublin 0-5 Meath 0-2: 16 mins – Cian O’Sullivan is allowed to roam free on the right and points without a Meath man in sight. Stephen Bray gets Meath’s first score in 10 minutes in immediate response.
Dublin 0-6 Meath 0-3: 18 mins – The scores are coming thick and fast now. McManamon and Tormey exchange points at either end.
GOAL FOR DUBLIN! Dublin 1-6 Meath 0-3 (Brogan, 19′) Dublin strike and it’s a goal for Brogan — I’m just not sure which one. McManamon’s shot drops off the post and both Alan and Bernard attack the same ball. One angle looks like it’s Alan’s goal, the other looks like it’s Bernard’s. We’ll clear it up in a minute. Dublin won’t mind.
Diarmuid Connolly has found himself in some fine positions this afternoon but his shooting has been a little off. He drops another short into O’Rourke’s hands.
Dublin 1-7 Meath 0-4: 23 mins – Mickey Newman gets his first of the afternoon for Meath but Dublin respond immediately. Superb pace by Jack McCaffrey opens up the space and he plays in Brogan — definitely Bernard this time — to score.
Connolly has another free out on the right and again it drops short.
CONTROVERSY! Stephen Bray has the ball in the Dublin net but it’s brought back for a foul by Fitzsimons on McDonagh. Replays show the contact was minimal if anything. Meath will feel aggrieved.
Dublin 1-8 Meath 0-5: 26 mins – Newman points that free but it’s little consolation. Alan Brogan points for Dublin at the other end.
Dublin 1-8 Meath 0-6: 27 mins – Damien Carroll shrugs off his marker and points to bring Meath back within five.
Dublin 1-9 Meath 0-6: 29 mins – Macauley plucks a Cluxton kick-out from the sky and he’s fouled as he brings the ball forward. Bernard Brogan steadies himself and points the free.
Dublin work it out from the back through Cluxton and Alan Brogan to Mannion. They’re ready to pull the trigger but a fine sliding block by Donncha Tobin turns the ball over for Meath.
Dublin 1-10 Meath 0-6: 32 mins – Two quick points in two minutes for McManamon. He could have had a goal moments before the second but rattled the Meath bar from close range.
SUBSTITUTION: Meath make a change; Joseph Wallace on to replace Graham Reilly.
Dublin 1-12 Meath 0-6: 33 mins – The Dubs are in no mood to ease off. Alan Brogan see his goal chance blocked but it comes back out to McManamon who points for his third score in as many minutes.
It’s all been very impressive by Dublin so far. They’re dominating around the middle and when Meath do get into their half, they’re crowded out very quickly.
HALF TIME: Dublin 1-12 Meath 0-6
It’s a one-horse town at the moment. I’m off to watch the replay of the Dublin goal – back in five.
Dublin 1-13 Meath 0-7: 37 mins – Bernard Brogan and O’Rourke point a free apiece to get the second half underway.
SUBSTITUTIONS: A change on either side at the break. Costello on to replace Mannion for Dublin; Mickey Burke on for Damien Carroll for Meath.
GOAL FOR DUBLIN! Dublin 2-13 Meath 0-7 (McManamon, 39′) That’s that, surely. McManamon buries past his man and thumps a shot past O’Rourke, giving the Meath keeper no chance. Dublin lead by 12 now!
DUBLIN SUB: Dean Rock on to replace Connolly.
Dublin 2-14 Meath 0-7: 43 mins – Dublin swarm forward again and Bernard Brogan points.
Dublin 2-15 Meath 0-7: 44 mins – McCaffrey fists over a point. We’re getting dangerously close to rout territory here, and the Dubs aren’t letting up.
Dublin 2-16 Meath 0-7: 46 mins – Paul Flynn is given a yard of space but that’s all he needs to point.
MEATH SUBS: David Bray and Brian Meade on for McDonagh and O’Rourke.
Nothing is going right for Meath now. Joseph Wallace hits the post and then David Bray skews his shot wide.
DUBLIN SUB: Alan Brogan is replaced by Eoghan O’Gara — who very nearly scores with his first possession. Just whistles wide of the post.
Dublin 2-16 Meath 0-8: 51 mins – Andy Tormey kicks a point into the Hill who greet it with ironic cheers. Here in Croke Park, the scoreboard operator is so used to putting up Dublin scores that he mistakenly credits them with the point before realising his error. Fourteen points the margin now.
MEATH SUB: Mark O’Sullivan on for Bryan Menton.
Dublin 2-17 Meath 0-8: 56 mins – McManamon gets the score but this is all Michael Dara Macauley’s work. He plays a one-two first with Costello, then with O’Gara, and finally lays it off for McManamon to score.
Dublin 2-18 Meath 0-8: 57 mins – Dean Rock joins the party, booming over a long-range score.
Dublin 2-19 Meath 0-8: 59 mins — Marvellous by Costello who goes to ground under a tackle from Burke but springs back to his feet and points. Dublin lead by a whopping 17 now.
DUBLIN SUBS: Daly and Bastick on for Devereux and Macauley.
GOAL FOR DUBLIN! Dublin 3-19 Meath 0-8 (O’Gara, 61′)
GOAL FOR MEATH! Dublin 3-19 Meath 1-8 (Newman, 62′)
Eoghan O’Gara has been a man hellbent on goal since his introduction and he first his shot low and across O’Rourke, nestling it inside the keeper’s right post.
Dean Rock then spurns a glorious chance to really salt the wound, palming onto the post when it would have been easier to score.
And at the other end, Newman breaks through the middle and finally beats Cluxton.
All hell has broken loose here in Croke Park, sparked by a scuffle between O’Gara and Reilly in front of the Meath goal. Let’s see what happens…
The end result is three bookings – for O’Rourke, Burke and O’Gara.
Dublin 3-19 Meath 1-10: 67 mins – David Bray points and then Cluxton produces an acrobatic leap to tip Stephen Bray’s shot over the bar. Two in a row for Meath.
Stephen Bray is a lucky lad. He swings wildly and catches Philly McMahon in the face. It’s deemed a yellow card.
DUBLIN SUB: Tomas Brady on for Cian O’Sullivan
We’ll have two added minutes before Meath are put out of their misery.
FULL TIME: Dublin 3-20 Meath 1-10
O’Gara points and at long last, Meath’s nightmare afternoon is over. Sixteen points between the sides at the final whistle.
Molly Malone rings out around Croke Park. Without doubt, this is Dublin’s day — they are crowned Leinster champions for the ninth time in 10 seasons and wrap up a hattrick against their old rivals.
Quite a remarkable run really, but they’re still three wins away from retaining their All-Ireland. The question now is: can anyone stop them?
That’s all from us for now. Thanks for reading and for commenting.