Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 12°C Thursday 28 January 2021

Dublin march into 8th All-Ireland final in 10 years with 15-point win over Cavan

Dublin will face Mayo or Tipperary in the decider on Saturday week.

Ciaran Kilkenny attempts a pass.
Ciaran Kilkenny attempts a pass.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Dublin 1-24

Cavan 0-12

IT’S A SHAME after the excitement they brought to the 2020 football championship that Cavan’s season petered out with a 15-point beating to Dublin tonight.

Dublin encountered few problems in sealing a return to their eighth All-Ireland decider since 2011. 

In the year where shocks have been a feature of the competition, they showed no signs of complacency despite coming into the game priced at 1/50 with bookmakers to prevail.

The Sky Blues went through the game with their usual methodical nature, minding possession and patiently waiting for scoring chances to arise. They gave Cavan little chance to get their dander up in the early stages, racing into a five point lead after 20 minutes and from there on the margin of their victory was the only question.

Dublin’s vice-like grip on the Sam Maguire tightened further with only Mayo or Tipperary now in the way of the first six-in-a-row in either hurling or football. 

Dessie Farrell stands 70 minutes away from his first senior All-Ireland title as manager and his team have hardly had a glove laid on them so far in this winter championship.

Dean Rock top-scored with a six-point haul, while Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O’Callaghan continued their run of scoring form with four apiece. Robbie McDaid enjoyed his most eye-catching display in the Dublin jersey, scoring 1-2 to end a week where unfounded rumours went around that Jack McCaffrey had rejoined the panel.

Dublin knew coming in it was a game they’d be given little credit for winning. As ever they went about their business with minimal fuss. 

Though Cavan had eight different scorers, they didn’t possess the attacking punch required to take down such a fearsome side. 

Cavan aimed high ball on top of Thomas Galligan at 14 in the second-half but the Dublin full-back line dealt with it comfortably. It should quieten the talk that it’s an area the defending champions are vulnerable.

Tactically, Mickey Graham got things fairly spot on in the first-half. Cavan left two men inside and withdrew Galligan as a third midfielder. They defended the danger zone around the D and had great success in turning Dublin over a handful of times after their attacks stagnated.

But Killian Clarke gave too much room to Dean Rock, who reeled off four from play – two off his left – in the opening 35 minutes. 

McDaid, Kilkenny and Fenton all kicked scores after long passages as Dublin patiently probed for scores around the Cavan rearguard.

brian-fenton-and-davy-byrne-with-padraig-faulkner Brian Fenton fetches a high ball. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Killian Brady led the Cavan charge, scoring a fine effort and winning a free for a McKiernan point.

Dublin were fortunate not to lose Jonny Cooper to a black card when he looked guilty of a drag that took down Martin O’Reilly as a dangerous ball came in.

The Breffni men went in at the break 0-12 to 0-7 behind. They were left to rue five wides, including a number of poorly executed strikes. 

Dublin were clinical after the restart. O’Callaghan handpassed over and then Fenton clipped a stunner from the wing. Paddy Small added the handiest mark he’ll ever score and all of a sudden the Leinster champions were eight clear. 

Kilkenny almost added a goal after a backdoor cut move that Dublin have perfected only to see his effort parried over the bar by Martin Reilly of all people.

robbie-mcdaid-celebrates-scoring-a-goal Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

O’Callaghan finished the game with four and McDaid strode forward to curl over his second of the day from wing-back.

Reilly stroked over two excellent points and James Smith added another in a Breffni purple patch. Philly McMahon scuffed a goal chance but Dublin had the ball in the net a minute later as McDaid palmed a Rock assist into the net. 

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

To keep things interesting Fenton drifted into the edge of the square and finished off a move in such a manner that he looked like a natural full-forward.

Cavan lost Thomas Galligan to a second yellow in stoppage-time and sub Cormac Costello kicked a point to round off the win.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-6 (0-2f), Robbie McDaid 1-2, Ciaran Kilkenny (0-1m), Brian Fenton and Con O’Callaghan 0-4 each, Paddy Small 0-2 (0-1m), Brian Howard and Cormac Costello 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cavan: Martin Reilly 0-3, James Smith and Oisin Kiernan 0-2 each, Gearoid McKiernan (0-1f), Chris Conroy (0-1f), Conor Madden, Ciaran Brady and Thomas Galligan 0-1 each.


1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
3. Davy Byrne (Naomh Olaf)
19. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)

4. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)
6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Robbie McDaid (Ballyboden St Endas) 

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)

10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
11. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
12. Sean Bugler (St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER)

13. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
15. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)


9. Brian Howard (Raheny) for Bugler (48)
24 Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams) for Cooper (50)
23. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes) for Small (54)
20. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcilles) for Scully (63)
17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for Rock (70)


1. Raymond Galligan (Leacain)

4. Killian Clarke (Searcog)
3. Padraig Faulkner (Dun a Ri)
7. Luke Fortune (Cavan Gaels)

6. Ciaran Brady (Armhach)
12. Oisin Kiernan (Caislean Reathain)
2. Jason McLoughlin (Gaeil Na Sionainne)

11. Gearoid McKiernan (Cavan Gaels)
24. James Smith (Cros ar Loch)
8. Thomas Galligan (Leacain)

9. Killian Brady (Mullach Odhrain)
14. Chris Conroy (An Leamhai)
5. Gerard Smith (An Leamhai)

10. Martin Reilly (Coill an Gharrai)
13. Conor Madden (Loch Gamhna)


15. Conor Smith (Coill an Gharrai) for Killian Brady (17)
22. Stephen Murray (Cavan Gaels) for Conroy (35)
17. Niall Murray (Cavan Gaels) for Clarke (45)
26. Conor Brady (Loch Gamhna) for Smith (50)
18. Stephen Smith (Cros ar Loch) for Madden (64) 

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Croke Park

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel