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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 11 May 2021


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HELLO AND WELCOME to our liveblog for today’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final between Dublin and Cavan – one side aiming for their sixth final in a row, the other chasing their first appearance in the decider since 1952.

Throw-in is just under 45 minutes away. So pour yourself a cuppa, get the feet up and get ready for this. Can Cavan upset the odds or will Dublin continue their march to yet another final?

Dublin have made one change to the team that will start against Cavan in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final this evening at Croke Park [throw-in, 5.30pm].

Brian Howard comes in to start at midfield alongside his Raheny club-mate Brian Fenton, while Jonny Cooper makes way.

James McCarthy, who started at midfield in their Leinster final win over Meath, reverts to the half-back line to join John Small and Robbie McDaid.


 1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
3. Davy Byrne (Naomh Olaf)
4. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)

5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Robbie McDaid (Ballyboden St Endas)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
9. Brian Howard (Raheny)

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)

There have been two late changes: Jonny Cooper has replaced Brian Howard for Dublin and James Smith has come in for Conor Smith on the Cavan team. 

So Dublin team now looks like this with that late change

 1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
3. Davy Byrne (Naomh Olaf)
4. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)

5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Robbie McDaid (Ballyboden St Endas)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
19. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)

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)

Here is the Cavan starting XV

1. Raymond Galligan (Leacain)
2. Jason McLoughlin (Gaeil Na Sionainne)
3. Padraig Faulkner (Dun a Ri)
4. Killian Clarke (Searcog)
5. Gerard Smith (An Leamhai)
6. Ciaran Brady (Armhach)
7. Luke Fortune (Cavan Gaels)
8. Thomas Galligan (Leacain)
9. Killian Brady (Mullach Odhrain)
10. Martin Reilly (Coill an Gharrai)
11. Gearoid McKiernan (Cavan Gaels)
12. Oisin Kiernan (Caislean Reathain)
13. Conor Madden (Loch Gamhna)
14. Chris Conroy (An Leamhai)
24. James Smith (Cros ar Loch)

This is Mickey Graham arriving into Croker with his team earlier this afternoon.

mickey-graham-arrives Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It may be a long time – 68 years – since Cavan won their last All-Ireland but they are up there on the roll of honour, having won more All-Irelands than Tyrone and Mayo.

Most successful counties

1: Kerry 37 titles (last All-Ireland title: 2014)

2: Dublin 29 titles (last title: 2019)

3: Galway 9 (last title: 2009)

4: Meath 7 (last title: 1999)

Cork 7 (last title: 2010)

6: Cavan, Down, Wexford 5 

Here is the Cavan team completing their warm-up as throw-in approaches

the-cavan-team-warm-up Source: James Crombie/INPHO

We are underway

Martin Reilly scores the first of the day – James Smith collects the throw-in and Cavan have the lead

1 minute – Cavan 0-1 Dublin 0-0

2 minutes – Dublin 0-1 Cavan 0-1 – Ciaran Kilkenny scores from play; teams level

Dean Rock misses a fairly tricky chance after taking a mark

4 minutes – superb score from James Smith for Cavan. They now lead 0-2 to 0-1

Four minutes – Dublin 0-2 Cavan 0-2 Brian Fenton scores from play

This has been a magnificent start, high standard of play, few unforced errors and a seriously high tempo to proceedings

Robbie McDaid scores a point from play for Dublin

6 minutes – Dublin 0-3 Cavan 0-2

Thomas Galligan with a beauty, scores level again

7 minutes – Cavan 0-3 Dublin 0-3

Mickey Graham will be thrilled with this start, Cavan scoring three points from three attempts

And having just said that, James Smith hits their first wide. Still, Cavan certainly aren’t suffering stagefright – as Con O’Callaghan scores a point from play to make it 0-4 to 0-3

9 minutes – Dublin 0-4 Cavan 0-3

10 minutes – Dublin 0-5 Cavan 0-3 – Dean Rock gets a superb score from play, just inside the 45

Although John Small has just hit a wide – Dublin are beginning to win a lot of small battles around the pitch. Next score vital

13 minutes – Dublin 0-6 Cavan 0-3 Nice play by Paddy Small to set up Dean Rock who calmly slots it over

Cavan doing well on their kick-outs; but after their slick start, they are turning the ball over cheaply

15 minutes – Free from Dean Rock after a foul by Killian Brady leads to Dublin establishing a 0-7 to 0-3 lead

If ever a team needed a score asap, it’s Cavan

Guess what, they get it. Their first in 10 minutes, Ciaran Brady with the score as we head to the waterbreak

17 minutes – Dublin 0-7 Cavan 0-4 

Dublin have been the better side but Cavan have had their moments, scoring four points from play. They need to build on that last score. 

Brian Fenton’s point makes it Dublin 0-8 Cavan 0-4, 19 minutes played

Eleven of the 12 points so far have been from play. Some brilliant shooting so far

Conor Smith, on as a sub after the waterbreak, has hit a rare wide in this game

21 minutes – Dean Rock again, this time from play – Cavan now between a Rock and a hard place: Dublin 0-9, Cavan 0-4

Ciaran Brady wins a free for Cavan, scoreable position

Gearoid McKiernan puts it over – Dublin now leading by four, 0-9 to 0-5

Dean Rock misses. Yes, it happens ever now and then

24 minutes – Ciaran Brady limping – not the news Cavan needed

26 minutes – Brian Fenton concedes possession after Dublin held it for well over a minute. Key moment for Cavan

27 minutes – but Dublin win it back, Ciaran Kilkenny finishing off a move to put Dublin further ahead, 0-10 to 0-5

28 minutes – Dublin 0-10 Cavan 0-5 Cooper fouls Reilly, free in for Cavan

29 minutes – Dublin 0-10 Cavan 0-6 Chris Conroy hits the free for Cavan

29 minutes – free to Dublin, Dean Rock on his way to see if he can extend Dublin’s lead to five points

It drops short ……. goal chance for Dublin 

But they don’t take it.  Niall Scully slips as he shapes to shoot and Cavan get the numbers back to clear it

32 minutes – another turnover, Dubs on the charge again, Rock scores another from play, has five points to his name, Dublin now lead 0-11 to 0-6

33 minutes – Dublin’s Paddy Small hits the post as he attempts a point. Stephen Murray set to come in for Cavan

Cavan force a turnover as Ciaran Kilkenny shaped to shoot. 

35 minutes – Conor Smith misses a scoreable opportunity for Cavan – as Chris Conroy makes way for Stephen Murray

Two added minutes at the end of the half

Paddy Small scores a fine point, again from play, as Dublin now lead by six points, 0-12 to 0-6, as we head towards the break

Oisin Kiernan gets a brilliant point for Cavan, who reduce the gap to five points, 0-12 to 0-7

HALF-TIME Dublin 0-12 Cavan 0-7 

Cavan have come back before in this championship – overcoming bigger gaps than this. The difference is they have not faced a team as good as Dublin so far in this campaign

ciaran-kilkenny-kicks-a-point Ciaran Kilkenny kicks a first half point for Dublin. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Cavan are certainly giving this a decent shot


Dean Rock has scored five points in that first half, four coming from play, including this one

We are about to get back underway here. Cavan have the wind at their backs for the second half

37 minutes – Dublin hit their fifth wide of the day

38 minutes – Dublin 0-13 Cavan 0-7 – Con O’Callaghan with the score

con-ocallaghan-with-oisin-kiernan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

40 minutes – Brian Fenton gets a superb score from play, Dublin now leading by seven points, 0-14 to 0-7

Another turnover forced by Dublin. They recycle possession and Paddy Small takes a mark and follows that up with a score, as Dublin get their third point without reply since half-time. They now lead 0-15 to 0-7, 42 minutes gone. 

Conor Madden, take a bow. Classy score, Cavan 0-8, Dublin 0-15

44 minutes – GOAL CHANCE, Dublin: But Martin Reilly makes a superb clearance off the line from Ciaran Kilkenny’s shot, stopping a certain goal, Dublin get the point as they now lead 0-16 to 0-8

48 minutes – Padraig Faulkner makes a brilliant intervention to steal the ball off Con O’Callaghan, saving a certain goal. Dublin introduce Brian Howard.

49 minutes – John Small’s attempt of a point has resulted in the ref asking for Hawkeye’s intervention

Hawkeye judges it was wide

51 minutes – Dublin 0-17 Cavan 0-8 – Con O’Callaghan with a tidy point from play as we head towards the waterbreak – Cavan running out of steam here. Result does not seem to be in any doubt

52 minutes – Ciaran Kilkenny takes a mark, then slots over a point as Dublin now lead by ten points 0-18 to 0-8

Dublin have brought on Philly McMahon and are now set to introduce Paul Mannion as well. Their depth of talent is unbelievable

54 minutes – Dublin 0-18 Cavan 0-9 Game has opened up a lot more in the second half. Martin Reilly scores a fine point, Cavan’s second after the interval.

55 minutes – Dublin 0-19 Cavan 0-9 

Con O’Callaghan with this point

Robbie McDaid gets Dublin’s 20th point of the day – 0-20 to 0-9 now

57 minutes – Dublin 0-21 Cavan 0-9 

Brian Howard with this score. Cavan have run out of gas. 

And Martin Reilly has been excellent as well.

His third score was a beauty as Cavan get their 10th point of the evening. They trail 0-21 to 0-10, with 11 minutes remaining. 

60 minutes – Oisin Kiernan has got the best point of the night, followed by a score from James Smith. They have hit three in a row now and aren’t going to slip quietly away. 

Dublin 0-21 Cavan 0-12

Cormac Costello has come on for Niall Scully on the Dublin side, Stephen Smith has come in for Conor Madden on the Cavan side. Six minutes remain

Goal chance for Dublin but Philly McMahon shoots wide

GOAL DUBLIN – Robbie McDaid

It is now 1-21 to 0-12 – Dean Rock with the assist, McDaid palms it into the net, five minutes remain

Cavan trying to go long – searching for a goal but Dublin have the right men in the right positions, Philly McMahon with the intervention

68 minutes – Dublin 1-22 Cavan 0-12 – Brian Fenton gets another point from play; Dublin look unbeatable

Dean Rock scores a free, then gets subbed, Basquel replacing him, as Dublin lead 1-23 to 0-12 – having scored 1-19 from play as we move into injury time

Three minutes of injury time being played

Thomas Galligan has been sent off after receiving a second yellow card

Dublin 1-24 Cavan 0-12 – Cormac Costello this time with the point

FULL TIME – Dublin 1-24 Cavan 0-12

So the Cavan adventure comes to an end. For many reasons they won’t forget 2020 and few outside the county will forget the joy they brought to this year’s Championship. They won the Ulster championship, won the hearts of their county people and won respect throughout the country.

While well beaten today, context is required. The team who were too good for them have been too good for everyone since that summer day in 2014 when Donegal tactically outthought them.

Since then, they have been brilliantly consistent, rattling off five straight All-Ireland titles. It is hard to see how that will not be extended to a sixth in two weeks time – although Tipperary and Mayo will have something to say about that.

They tick every box, though. Their fitness is extraordinary and the way they retain possession is really, really impressive. Plus they can score. And defend. And stay calm. Has there ever been a better team in the game’s history? It’s unlikely. 

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About the author:

Garry Doyle


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