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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Cluxton off injured while McCaffrey and O'Sullivan return as Dublin crush Longford

Dublin are into their eighth Leinster SFC final in succession.

Dublin 2-25

Longford 0-12

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

AS EXPECTED LONGFORD offered little resistance as Dublin cruised into their eighth consecutive Leinster SFC final with a 19-point win.

Dean Rock celebrates scoring with Michael Darragh Macauley Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dublin ran up an impressive tally of 2-25 with all six starting forwards scoring from play, although they never moved out of second gear all afternoon. For the second straight tie they beat the handicap set by the bookies by a single point.

Such is the long shadow Dublin cast over the rest of the province, they don’t need to start thinking about peaking until the Super 8s in late July.

Longford played with a man less from the 22nd minute when James McGivney was red-carded for a reckless challenge on Stephen Cluxton, while talisman Michael Quinn was black-carded midway through the second period.

Denis Connerton’s outfit battled gamely for three-quarters of the game but had Paddy Collum to thank for four fine second-half saves on Paul Mannion, Michael Darragh Macauley and Colm Basquel, while Dean Rock rattled a strike off the crossbar.

Dean Rock has a shot on goal saved by Paddy Collum Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The All-Ireland champions were boosted by the returns from injury of Jack McCaffrey and Cian O’Sullivan, while Paul Flynn arrived off the bench for the second straight game.

Remarkably, McCaffrey missed just one championship game after the torn ACL he suffered in last year’s All-Ireland final. A burst he made down the left flank in the early stages of the second-half showed he has lost none of his pace following the surgery.

Given the one-sided nature of this contest, one of the more interesting aspects of the game was Evan Comerford making his championship debut after Cluxton was forced off following a heavy bang to the mid-section of his body in the 21st minute.

Cluxton climbed into the air to fist away a long delivery inside and while he was still airborne he was taken out with a dangerous hit from Longford full-forward McGivney.

Stephen Cluxton is fouled by James McGivney Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Stephen Cluxton is fouled by James McGivney Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The pair had clashed earlier in the half and McGivney clearly had revenge on his mind, but it was a reckless challenge on the 36-year-old who was defenceless. Cluxton was replaced by his understudy Comerford and gingerly made his way into the dressing rooms under the Hogan Stand.

It was the first time in 14 years Dublin had a keeper other than Cluxton between the posts in a championship game. The last one was Brian Murphy against Westmeath in 2004, when Cluxton was suspended after his red card against Armagh the previous summer.

Comerford had a shaky moment early on when his fisted clearance landed to a Longford forward, but otherwise had little to trouble him throughout.

Dublin quickly clicked into gear and raced into a 0-8 to 0-3 lead with seven different scorers hitting the target inside the opening quarter. In the 18th minute, Michael Darragh Macauley barrelled through and fed Rock for an easy palmed finish into the net.

Shortly after McGivney was sent-off, Longford had a mishap from a short kick-out when Liam Connerton was caught in possession inside his own 21. Rock and Mannion doubled up on the wing-forward, with the latter winning possession and drilling it past Paddy Collum into the net.

Paul Mannion with Michael Quinn and Donal McElligott Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Jonny Cooper was lucky to stay on the field shortly before half-time when his forearm made contact with Dessie Reynolds’s face as he broke through on goal. Cooper was already on a yellow and somehow escaped caution, but was duly replaced by McCaffrey at the interval.

Michael Fitzsimons, taken for two points from play by Robbie Smyth, was also whipped off at half-time by Gavin.

Longford hit three of the four scores after half-time, before Gavin ran the bench. Basquel had two points on the board shortly after arriving on the field, while Collum made several saves to deny Dublin a third goal.

Rock brought his tally to 1-6 with four second-half frees while Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny were able to finish with 0-4 apiece as Dublin coasted home.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-5 (0-1f), Paul Mannion 1-2, Brian Fenton 0-4, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-4, Colm Basquel 0-2,  Con O’Callaghan 0-2, Philly McMahon 0-1, Brian Howard 0-1, James McCarthy 0-1, Paddy Andrews 0-1, Niall Scully 0-1.

Scorers for Longford: Robbie Smyth 0-5 (0-3f), Michael Quinn 0-1, Donal McElligott 0-1, Paddy Collum 0-1 (0-1 45), Dessie Reynolds 0-1, David McGivney 0-1 (0-1f), Rian Brady 0-1, Sean McCormack 0-1.

Dublin

1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnell’s)

2. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
4. Eric Lowndes (St Peregrine’s)

5. Brian Howard (Raheny)
6. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)

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

10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
11. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
12. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)

13. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
14. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
15. Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s)

Subs 

16. Evan Comerford (Ballymun Kickhams) for Cluxton (22)
21. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf) for Cooper (ht)
19. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens) for Fitzsimons (ht)
17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for Mannion (52)
22. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s) for Andrews (52)
25. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes) for McCarthy (54)
20. Paul Flynn (Fingallians) for Macauley (57)

Longford

1. Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels)

2. Patrick Fox (St Columbas Mullinalaghta)
3. Padraig McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets)
4. Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard)

5. Michael Quinn (Kiloe Young Emmets)
6. Donal McElligott (St Columbas Mullinalaghta)
7. Daniel Mimnagh (Kiloe Young Emmets)

8. Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s)
9. Conor Berry (Abbeylara)

10. Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connollys)
11. David McGivney (St Columbas Mullinalaghta)
12. Liam Connerton (Rathcline)

13. Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara)
14. James McGivney (St Columbas Mullinalaghta)
15. Rian Brady (St Columbas Mullinalaghta)

Subs

23. Sean McCormack (Kiloe Young Emmets) for Connerton (27)
18. Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers) for Quinn (black-card, 56)
20. Mark Nally (Roscommon Gaels) for McGivney (64)
17. Peter Foy (Longford Slashers) for Reynolds (65)
24. Darren Quinn (Clonguish) for Masterson (65)
22. Shane Donohoe (Rathcline) for Mimnagh (71)

Black card: Michael Quinn (56)
Red card: James McGivney (21)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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