Dublin staged a late recovery to defeat Donegal in this afternoon’s All Ireland Football Semi Final at Croke Park. The victory secured their place in the decider against Kerry next month in what GAA fans will see as the Dream Final.
The first period was undoubtedly the poorest 35 minutes of football seen all season. Dublin failed to score from play during the entire half and struggled to cope with Donegal’s mass defence system. Colm McFadden scored the opening point of the game and it took ten minutes for the Dubs to get off the mark, through Bernard Brogan. After 18 minutes play it was still level at a point each. Ryan Bradley then hit a fine score from play to give the Ulster side the lead but this was cancelled out by Bernard Brogan.
Kevin Cassidy made it 0-3 to 0-2 soon after and Colm McFadden doubled the scores with a point minutes later. Both sides struggled for accuracy and the wides totals added up as the minutes ticked on. In fairness to the players, the two sets of supporters were less than sporting and continuously booed the opposing players as they shot at goals. The sides went in at the break on a scoreline of 0-4 to 0-2.
Colm McFadden pointed just after the restart to increase the Donegal lead. He fired over with the goal at his mercy and if he had found the net it could have been game over.Stephen Cluxton came upfield to reduce the lead with a well taken free for Dublin but McFadden was beginning to star for Donegal, and pointed an excellent free from near the sideline to double the scores once more(0-6 to 0-3).
Points from Brogan and Cluxton narrowed the gap for Dublin and with 15 minutes to play,there was just a single point between the sides. Diarmuid Connolly was sent off for striking and the Dubs were down to fourteen. However, Kevin McMenamin pointed a minute later to level the match on the day. Dublin led for the first time after 61 minutes when Bryan Cullen fired over from close range. Bernard Brogan made it a two point game as the Donegal challenge started to falter. They failed to make use of the numerical advantage and struggled to match the fitness of their opponents.
In the finish, Dublin were just the fitter side and they appeared to want the win just that little bit more. Even with 14 men they had too much for Donegal and were deserving winners at the end. And so GAA fans throughout the country are going to get the dream final that everyone had wanted: Kerry v Dublin.
Dublin (SF v Donegal): S Cluxton; C O’Sullivan, R O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; D Bastick, MD Macauley; P Flynn, B Cahill, B Cullen; A Brogan, D Connolly, B Brogan
Donegal (SF v Dublin): P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; A Thompson, K Lacey, K Cassidy; R Kavanagh, N Gallagher; M McHugh, M Hegarty, R Bradley; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden