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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

Relentless Dublin complete Leinster 10-in-a-row after mauling Meath

Cormac Costello received a late red card as goals from Dean Rock, Sean Bugler and Niall Scully saw Dublin home.

Dublin's Dean Rock scores his goal.
Dublin's Dean Rock scores his goal.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Dublin 3-21

Meath 0-9

FOR THE 10th straight year Dublin have been crowned champions of Leinster and their dominance has never looked more pronounced.

On a night when the 100th year anniversary of Bloody Sunday was marked in Croke Park with a pre-game ceremony, the main event offered little entertainment. 

Dublin had 16 points to spare over the Royals in last year’s final and despite the talk that the gap had been narrowed in the intervening 18 months, the 21-point margin here suggests otherwise.

A late red card to Cormac Costello was the main talking point from a drab game. He only arrived onto the field in the 58th minute and nine minutes later had received his marching orders for an off the ball incident. 

According to Dessie Farrell after the game, Costello was dismissed for something he said to an official.

Unless an appeal is successful he’ll miss the All-Ireland semi-final against the Ulster champions. On current form Farrell’s main concern will be around whether they’ll arrive into that game undercooked such is the paucity of the challenge they’ve faced in Leinster. 

It took Meath 63 minutes to better their tally of four points from last year’s Leinster final. Dublin swallowed them up at the back and completely shut down the Meath forward line that had scored 12 goals in the previous two games.

They eventually finished with 0-9, though the game was probably over as a contest after Dean Rock’s eight minute goal. 

Dublin almost look like a better side without the crowd because their on-field communication is so good. Captain Stephen Cluxton was a vocal presence, roaring ‘kick-out, kick-out’ to his team-mates every time they were about to get a shot away. 

The Sky Blues almost look insulted by the pre-match talk that Meath would run them close.

The Royals kicked the first score of the game and were still level by the seventh minute when they pressed high on a Dublin kick-out. Cluxton bombed his kick-out down the middle on top of Con O’Callaghan, who played mostly at centre-forward. 

Dublin clearly expected a heavy Meath press and they dragged bodies into their own half, leaving oceans of space either side of O’Callaghan. It was the first of four kick-outs he fetched in the game.

Niall Scully raced past the Cuala man and forwarded it onto Brian Fenton. Dean Rock peeled off to the back post and received the pass for a simple finish that has become Dublin’s hallmark. 

By the interval, Dublin’s all-time leading scorer had 1-5 on the board after a few sweetly struck placed balls. He finished the game with 1-7. Sean Bugler grabbed his second goal in as many games, fisting in a chance he fashioned himself after playing a one-two with Kilkenny. 

The game was practically over at that stage. Niall Scully, Kilkenny and O’Callaghan all added points to leave Dublin in an unassailable 2-12 to 0-2 half-time lead.

They lost Jonny Cooper to a foot injury before the start of the second-half, but the introduction of Brian Howard hardly weakened Dublin. By the 43rd minute, two of Meath full-back line had been replaced, indicating their struggles against the Dublin attack. 

John Small broke forward for a point and O’Callaghan added another. Kilkenny had an opportunity to go for goal when Fenton slipped him through, but he showed mercy on Meath and popped it over. 

The Castleknock man mainly played at full-forward and finished with 0-4, adding to the 1-9 he clipped in the previous two outings.

dean-rock-is-tackled-by-ronan-ryan-and-shane-mcentee Dublin's Dean Rock is tackled by Ronan Ryan and Shane McEntee of Meath. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Cluxton made a good save to deny Wallace but Dublin counter-attacked immediately.

Cormac Costello, only off the bench minutes earlier, was speeding through for a certain goal chance when he was downed by Ronan Jones. The offender shipped a black card and Meath were down to 14 men for the remaining 10 minutes of normal time. 

Meath scored more in the last 10 minutes than they did in the previous 60.

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Royals subs Joey Wallace and Jason Scully pulled back points and Jordan Morris finished with 0-3 to his name. Costello’s red and a fisted goal from Niall Scully arrived in the closing stages as the game petered out.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-7 (0-5f, 0-1 45), Paddy Small 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1m) Ciaran Kilkenny 0-4, Sean Bugler 1-2, Niall Scully 1-1, Con O’Callaghan 0-2, John Small and Paul Mannion (0-1f) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Meath: Jordan Morris 0-4 (0-1f), Bryan Menton, Thomas O’Reilly (0-1f), Jason Scully, Joey Wallace and Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1 each.


1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

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

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)
14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
12. Sean Bugler (St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER)

13. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
11. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
15. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)


19. Brian Howard (Raheny) for Cooper (ht)
21. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes) for Paddy Small (41)
22. Eric Lowndes (St Peregrines) for John Small (53)
20. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcilles) for O’Callaghan (58)
25. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s) for Kilkenny (65)


1. Mark Brennan (O Mahonys)

12. Ronan Ryan (Summerhill)
3. Conor McGill (Ratoath)
4. David Toner (Curraha)

2. Seamus Lavin (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
5. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny) 
7. Matthew Costello (Dunshaughlin)

8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne)
6. Shane McEntee (St Peter’s Dunboyne)

9. Ronan Jones (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
10. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
11. Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)

15. Thomas O’Reilly (Wolfe Tones)
13. Jordan Morris (An Obair)
14. Shane Walsh (Na Fianna)


18. Cathal Hickey (Senchelstown) for Toner (43)
19. Eoin Harkin (Dun Samhna) for McGill (43)
21. Ethan Devine (Na Fianna) for Costello (46)
23. Jason Scully (Oldcastle) for McMahon (52)
22. Joey Wallace (Ratoath) for O’Reilly (53) 

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Croke Park

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