Sunday, April 03, 2011

NFL Dublin 2-10 Down 0-13

Dublin 2-10 Down 0-13
Dublin maintained their 100% league record & secured their 1st NFL final appearance since 1999 with a dramatic late win over Down.  The night had started in a downpour and a crowd excited after the hurlers brilliant performance against the Cats.  On a night which would see three Brogan brothers on the field there was time before the throwin for a minute silence for their grandfather Jim Brogan who had recently died.  Well respected and we’re sure he couldn’t have been more proud of the young men.
Unusually Dublin went behind when on this occasion Martin Clarke fed Benny Coulter to kick over.  Dublin rallied when Diarmuid Connolly brilliantly outfielded his man passed to Barry Cahill who kicked the point.  5 minutes later & Dublin’s goal scoring skill in Croke Park continued.  Alan Brogan took the ball at the Hogan Stand sideline, looked up to see Dublin forwards in the square & drove the ball into the space.  Paul Flynn was 1st to react & got to the ball before the keeper palming to the net & putting the Blues 2 ahead.  It was nip & tuck through to half time.  The northerners did draw level and it continued that way up to the half time whistle when it was Dublin 1-05 Down 0-08.  It could have been so much better for the Dubs as they saw a Denis Bastick goal shot shave the left hand post & a Paul Flynn goal shot beat the keeper and fire back off the right hand upright.  Down continued their basketball tactic of handpassing forward & back forcing a blanket Dubs defence to pressure Down into long range shots.  In truth the Down tactics are awful to watch & the GAA authorities will really have to act to stop this miserable brand of basketball being widely adopted.
Paul Flynn kicked the Dubs ahead in the 2nd half but it was Down who would take an initial lead.  Martin Clarke’s freetaking was consistent and punished Dublin whenever he had the chance.  Dublin had made some changes with Bernard coming on for Kevin Mc and Michael Dara on for Denis Bastick.  Another goal chance for the Dubs around the 42nd minute when Barry Cahill tried his soccer skills to beat the onrushing Down keeper.  But the clash saw no goal and injuries to both men which saw them substituted.  In the next 10 minutes the teams exchanged scores but it was the cynical Down play which drew the eye.  Time after time they were cynically blocking Dubs from getting onto the end of a return pass, on many occasions out of sight of the referee.
With 2 minutes left Martin Clarke kicked the reds a point up.  But then it was Brogan time.  1st up was Bernard to kick the sides level.  Then deep into injury time, he brilliantly won the ball at the Hogan Stand corner, turned his man & looked up.  In the distance he could see a blue shirt & he lobbed the ball into the square.  The ball was dropped by the Down number 9 & it was brother Alan who was 1st to react & drove the ball off the ground into the net.  The reaction of the Dublin players showed how much the goal meant and within a minute it was all over.  Six wins out of six & a great result for the Brogans, Pat Gilroy & the entire Dublin panel.  A trip to Galway & an Easter Sunday final to look forward to.
Three footnotes:- A brilliant performance from the hurlers who were so unlucky not to beat the Cats got the night off to a great start.  A Leinster Minor Football League Final win for Dessie Farrell’s men had already got the weekend off well.  But the tiresome searching of entry to the Hill was on show again on the night.  It had thankfully been missing from earlier games but there they were again at 5:15 searching again.  Yet again Dubs fans going to the Hill are being singled out when those going to the stands are welcomed with open arms.  Yet again it is those fans who come early who are being subjected to this special treatment when those who come in later are not so treated.  The continuing abuse of Hill fans is a disgrace.  How quick it is for the Croke Park authorities to forget that it was a Hogan Stand fan who hit a steward with a bottle last year.  But will we ever see searching of Hogan Stand patrons?  Cows will fly over the moon 1st.
Dublin - Stephen Cluxton, Philip McMahon, Paul Brogan, Nicky Devereux, Kevin Nolan, Ger Brennan, Daragh Nelson, Denis Bastick (Michael Dara McAuley (45)), Barry Cahill (0-01), Paul Flynn (1-01) (Dean Kelly (69)), Kevin McManamon (Bernard Brogan (40) (0-01)), Bryan Cullen (0-01) (Paddy Andrews (60)), Alan Brogan (1-01), Diarmuid Connolly (0-01), Tomás Quinn (0-04) (Pat Burke (65)).
Down - B McVeigh (D Alder (45)), G McCartan, D Gordon, B McArdle (D McCartan (45)), C Garvey, K McKernan (0-01), D Rooney, P Fitzpatrick (0-01) (J Colgan (50)), K King, D Hughes (0-02), M Poland (0-01) (E McCartan (60)), C Maginn (0-01), P McComiskey (0-02) (R Murtagh (55)), B Coulter (0-02), M Clarke (0-03).

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