Beast of the east is on the move as Dubs thrash Longford in 27 point rout
Dublin's 27-point rout of Longford exposes giant gulf between Galvin's mean machine and the rest of Leinster
EVERYONE knew this was coming but it doesn't make the Longford post-mortems any less painful or the Dublin celebrations any less muted.
We expected a turkey shoot and we duly got one. We probably didn't expect the final margin so be so gigantic but, then, it doesn't really matter whether Dublin steamrolled their unfortunate midland opponents by 15 points, 20 or 25?
In the end, they settled for 27 points - 4-25 to 0-10 - and the assembled scribes high up in the Hogan Stand were left scratching their heads and wondering what if any records had just been shredded by Jim Gavin's metronomic machine.
We can't give you any definitive answers just yet, given the GAA's less-than-accessible memory bank of championship data ... but we're pretty safe in our assumption that this was some form of modern-day record for a Dublin football team in SFC combat.
Seven years ago, Paul Caffrey's men walloped Wexford by 23 points (3-23 to 0-9) and it registered as a Leinster final record. This was only a quarter-final but, such was the ruthless ease with which the unbackable favourites dismantled Longford's challenge, it was impossible to see who can possibly stop them in Leinster.
As a diehard Dub himself, Jack Sheedy will have been painfully conflicted watching his Longford team succumb to the role of sacrificial lambs. He was asked afterwards if he had been tempted to 'park the bus' in an attempt at damage-limitation. His answer couldn't have been more emphatic.
"No, don't believe in it," Sheedy declared. "Don't like it. I think its horrible to watch. As a spectator sport, it's called football so let's go play football to the best of our ability ... and if we had done that with our lads (by playing with a blanket defence) what would they have gained out of it? Very little.
"They got to experience playing against one of the best teams in the country, suffered heavily against them, but putting 15 guys behind the ball was not going to improve how they play football. So no, I wouldn't have wanted to do it. And they wouldn't have wanted it either."
As for Dublin, they will now face Kildare or Laois in a June 28 semi-final back at headquarters. Based on what those two sides would have witnessed on TV, peering out from behind their armchairs, they must now be asking themselves privately if victo ry in Tullamore next Saturday evening would actually qualify as a booby prize best avoided.
We had only 33,544 at yesterday's opener - despite the obvious attraction of a far more intriguing hurling clash between Dublin and Galway - so it's fair to surmise that the Sky Blues' legendary 16th man is now picking and choosing which matches to attend in person.
Can you blame him?
That said, you can't condemn Gavin or his players for any of this. They had a job to do yesterday and they achieved it with a clinical efficiency that bodes well for the rest of the championship, even beyond Leinster.
Any notion of easing into their campaign, or even teasing Longford with a pedestrian start, was shattered inside a minute when Brian Fenton launched what would prove an impressive SFC debut with Dublin's opening point.
From there on it was a question of by how much?
Dublin's first goal - a sublime finish by Diarmuid Connolly - stemmed from a Kevin McManamon delivery that was intercepted by Longford skipper Dermot Brady only to be knocked straight into Ciarán Kilkenny's path.
One swift offload across to the inrushing Connolly and you can guess the rest. The game was four minutes old and the gap was out to six. Already it was a case of calculators at the ready.
Dublin had already tallied 1-5 without reply after just seven minutes, Longford's woe compounded by the loss of their first five kickouts.
Longford's only flurry of any significance came with three unanswered points during that opening quarter. Two of those scores came from the ghosting Rory Connor, bringing his personal tally to 0-3 from play inside 13 minutes and doubtless prompting a few steward's inquiries on the Dublin sideline.
The revival was shortlived: when Kilkenny located Paul Flynn in acres of open prairie and the four-time All Star pointed, all six Dublin forwards had scored with less than 15 minutes elapsed.
Come the final whistle, the number of scorers in Sky Blue had stretched to 11 and the 16-point handicap had long since been obliterated.
Dublin's second goal, on 27 minutes, showcased the All-Ireland favourites at their counter-attacking best but also Longford's limitations. They had possession around midfield but were being harried and tackled to distraction and the eventual turnover was inevitable. Three slick passes later, the ball had transferred through Connolly to Dean Rock and McManamon (who still contrived a successful offload despite being tripped) and Flynn was curling a sweet shot beyond Paddy Collum.
At half-time the margin was out to 12 - 2-14 to 0-8. Then it got even worse for Longford, who were confined to just two pointed Brian Kavanagh frees in that second half.
Two more Dublin goals inside 60 seconds - around the 50-minute mark - followed via Rock's fisted effort and Bernard Brogan's low rasper.
Rock finished with 1-6 (1-2 from play) but Brogan's identical tally all stemmed from open play and was a fair reflection of his razor sharpness from the off. The 2010 Footballer was our choice for Man of the Match, ahead of a sizeable posse that included Flynn, Kilkenny and McManamon up front while, of the summer rookies, David Byrne and Fenton both looked assured at this level.
Not that Brogan or his colleagues will read too deeply into this non-event: no one may stop Dublin this year but we'll all have to park judgement, whatever about the bus, until August at least.
SCORERS - Dublin: B Brogan, D Rock (2f, 2 '45s') 1-6 each, P Flynn 1-3, D Connolly 1-0, C Kilkenny 0-3, K McManamon 0-2, B Fenton, P McMahon, E Lowndes, T Brady, P Andrews 0-1 each. Longford: B Kavanagh 0-5 (4f), R Connor 0-3, L Connerton, P Collum ('45') 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton 7; P McMahon 6, D Byrne 8, J Cooper 7; D Daly 8, J Small 7, J McCaffrey 7; B Fenton 8, D Bastick 7; P Flynn 8, C Kilkenny 8, D Connolly 7; D Rock 8, K McManamon 8, B Brogan 9. Subs: M Fitzsimons 6 for McMahon (ht), T Brady 6 for Connolly (ht), MD Macauley 7 for Bastick (46), P Andrews 6 for Flynn (53), E Lowndes 6 for Cooper (56), A Brogan 6 for B Brogan (61).
LONGFORD: P Collum 6; D Brady 5, C Farrelly 5, B Gilleran 5; CP Smyth 5, B O'Farrell 5, D Masterson 6; M Quinn 6, K Diffley 5; R Connor 7, R McNerney 5, P Foy 6; B McKeon 6, B Kavanagh 6, R McEntire 5. Subs: L Connerton 6 for McKeon (inj 17), D Reynolds 5 for Diffley (30), A Rowan for Smyth (49), P Gill for Connor (53), F Battrim for Masterson (58), E Williams for McNerney (inj 70).
WIDES: Dublin 6 (2+4); Longford (3+ 2).
YELLOW: Dublin 0; Longford 2 (Foy 25, Masterson 44).
BLACK: Dublin 0; Longford 1 (Diffley 28) .
REF: C Lane (Cork).
ATT: 33,544 .
MAN OF THE MATCH: Bernard Brogan (Dublin)
leinster sfc quarter-final