Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park
THEY FINALLY DID it.
Dublin are officially the owners of the longest unbeaten streak in GAA history, stretching their to 35 games and past the 84-year-old record set by Kerry.
Where Dublin rank in the pantheon of great teams is a conversation for another day, but on current form they’re head and shoulders above the rest in the country.
2-29 is an incredible score for March and it’s fitting they hit the 35-point tally for their 35th game without defeat.
Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan made their first starts of the season and both players, invigorated by their extended break, looked as eager to impress as a couple of rookies making their debuts.
Flynn, in particular, was sensational and it appears he has rediscovered his athletic superpowers. His shooting wasn’t bad either, mind, and he finished up with a credible tally of 1-6.
The Sky Blue juggernaut came up against difficult challenges from Tyrone, Donegal and Kerry in recent weeks, but this was one of the most straightforward victories of their phenomenal two-year stretch.
This was a clear case of yin and yang. While Dublin’s greatness was confirmed, Roscommon were consigned to Division 2 football for 2018.
The league is becoming more important for championship purposes in recent years and it’s hard not to worry for Roscommon’s summer prospects after their winless spring campaign.
Dublin led by just 0-4 to 0-3 early on, before Paul Flynn’s 14th minute goal opened the floodgates. Brogan did well to collect a high delivery inside and slipped in Flynn for the tidy finish.
Lowndes, Scully and Flynn hit three unanswered scores, making it 1-3 without replay in a devastating 10-minute spell. Bernard Brogan added a point off either foot to bring his tally to 0-3 by the break, where the Dubs lead by 1-14 to 0-6.
The second-half was merely a procession, as Gavin rolled out some of his most trusted lieutenants. Former Footballer of the Years Jack McCaffrey and Michael Darragh MacAuley, as well as All-Star Diarmuid Connolly were among the cavalry to arrive off the bench.
Flynn’s scoring exploits continued and raised the white flag three times in the third quarter as Dublin’s lead stretched to 1-21 to 0-8.
Dublin were leading by 16 points and, after almost an hour, Kevin McManamon was the only forward who had failed to trouble the scoreboard. Not to worry, he burst through for 1-1 in a couple of minutes as Dublin refused to let up.
Cian Connolly, who had a decent outing, and Gary Patterson sent over good scores for the Rossies during their brightest spell of the match.
Conor McHugh, another sub, curled over 0-3 for the champions while McCaffrey and Connolly added a point apiece for the champions as the game finished with a training session feel to it.
Scorers for Dublin: Paul Flynn 1-6, Kevin McManamon 1-1, Paddy Andrews, Bernard Brogan, Dean Rock (0-2f) 0-3 each, Brian Fenton, Ciaran Reddin, Niall Scully, Conor McHugh (0-1f) 0-2 each, Eric Lowndes, Shane B Carthy, Jack McCaffrey, Diarmuid Connolly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh 0-3 (1f), Donie Smith, Enda Smith, Ciarain Murtagh (1f), Cian Connolly (1f) 0-2 each, Gary Patterson, Shane Killoran, Niall Kilroy 0-1 each.
1. Stephen Cluxton
2. Philly McMahon
3. Michael Fitzsimons
4. Davy Byrne
5. Darren Daly
6. Cian O’Sullivan
7. Eric Lowndes
8. Brian Fenton
9. Ciaran Reddin
10. Paul Flynn
11. Kevin McManamon
12. Niall Scully
13. Dean Rock
14. Paddy Andrews
15. Bernard Brogan
Shane B Carthy for Byrne (30)
Jack McCaffrey for Daly (40)
Conor McHugh for Rock (40)
Diarmuid Connolly for Fenton (44)
Micahel Darragh Macauley for Reddin (47)
Paul Mannion for O’Sullivan (49)
1. D O’Malley
2. David Murray
6. John McManus
4. Niall McInerney
5. Sean McDermott
23. Ultan Harney
7. Ronan Stack
.8 T Corcoran
9. T O’Rourke
10. G Patterson
11. Ciarain Murtagh
12. Enda Smith
13. Donie Smith
14. Diarmuid Murtagh
15. Conor Devaney
19. Cathal Compton for Corcoran (ht)
24. Shane Killoran for Harney (ht)
20. Cian Connolly for D Murtagh (52)
21. Fintan Cregg for Smith (52)
26. Brian Murtagh for McDermott (52)
25. N Kilroy for C Murtagh (65).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)