Mossy shoots for the stars in tight affair
McHugh strikes late in Dublin win as Quinn hits hat-trick for Dubs Stars
Jim Gavin's Dublin took their first tentative steps on what they hope will be another prolonged and successful campaign when facing the Dubs Stars in their annual Dublin Bus/Herald football challenge at Parnell Park yesterday afternoon.
A large crowd assembled in Donnycarney and were treated to an entertaining and keenly contested affair that had a suitably exciting conclusion as Conor McHugh netted two minutes from time to hand Dublin a narrow one-point success.
However, the star performer on the day proved a player who has graced this occasion with his presence numerous times down the years, with Tomás Quinn showcasing his talent with a sublime showing from corner-forward.
The St Vincent's player scored 3-5 over the hour with his three goals a mixture of anticipation, sharpness and accuracy, traits that have made him such a revered attacker at both club and county level.
He managed to contribute all of his side's scores in the first half and continued to threaten after the break as his side recovered from an eight-point interval deficit to largely dominate the second half.
Much had been made in advance of the tie of the introduction of the mark but the new initiative proved largely irrelevant.
Ryan Deegan of Dublin proved the first player to be awarded the mark but it seems the directive by both managements was to play on once possession had been secured with Dublin substitute Ross Hazley doing so on three occasions after his lively cameo in midfield off the bench.
Hazley was one of a number of players to make a positive impression over the match. Dublin panellist Graham Hannigan maintained his excellent form from Castleknock's run to the county final with a solid outing for the Dubs Stars at full-back while his clubmate Shane Boland worked tirelessly throughout in joining defence and attack.
There was an unfamiliar feel to both teams and that showed in the initial stages, especially among the Dubs Stars, who lacked cohesion when looking to build from deep.
However, they enjoyed a greater degree of possession with their midfield duo of Boland and Darren Gavin combining well to hand their side a marked advantage in that area.
From limited possession, Dublin took the lead in the fourth minute through McHugh before Tomás Quinn landed a typically fluid point of his own two minutes later to restore parity.
Quinn repeated the trick in the 11th minute after Paul Hudson had briefly restored Dublin's lead but Dublin looked to have gained a decisive advantage when McHugh's sublime crossfield ball was seized upon by Killian O'Gara, whose rising effort whizzed past Morven Connolly in the Dubs Stars goal.
While their approach play was particularly impressive, the economy of the Dubs Stars forwards left a lot to be desired as they kicked a series of poor wides to undermine their encouraging showing.
Quinn was the obvious exception to this and his quick thinking was rewarded as he caught Evan Comerford unawares with a close-in free to level matters in the 13th minute.
However, with Deegan beginning to shine in the Dublin midfield, the Blues began to gain control and after Niall Walsh had restored their lead, they pushed further clear in the 21st minute as McHugh pounced close to goal after his initial attempt cannoned off the upright.
The remainder of the half was a familiar tale of the Dubs Stars' wastefulness and, in contrast, the clinical nature of the Dublin attack, as two Hudson frees and points from Walsh and Ciaran Reddin pushed Jim Gavin's men 2-7 to 1-2 clear by the interval.
The gulf in terms of fitness seemed likely to prove telling the longer the contest evolved and so it appeared in the early stages of the second half as Dublin tagged on points through O'Gara and Hudson within five minutes of the resumption.
That the Dubs Stars remained in touch was down almost exclusively to the predatory instincts of Quinn, who nipped in ahead of Comerford to pounce for his second goal after Niall Coakley's point attempt had dropped short.
Gradually, the Dubs Stars began to exert a strong control on matters, with the St Jude's duo of Ross O'Brien and Tom Lahiff particularly prominent.
The Stars trimmed their arrears further thanks to three frees shared by Quinn and Coakley.
Their confidence was visibly enhanced and that manifested itself in a wonderful team goal in the 42nd minute that stretched the length of the field, allowing Quinn to complete his hat-trick with a clipped effort under the out-rushing Comerford.
There was a keener edge to proceedings for the final quarter with the play becoming increasingly frantic and enjoyable as a consequence.
O'Gara inched Dublin ahead at the end of the third quarter while Coakley replied in kind for the Dubs Stars in the 47th minute as the Corkman fired over from an acute angle.
Dublin looked to have gained the upper hand soon after, as Hudson clipped over his first point from play two minutes later, and a quick-fire double by McHugh ensured Dublin gained tangible reward for their brief period of supremacy.
In keeping with the meandering nature of the contest, the Dubs Stars replied in the 55th minute as Gavin fired home a sublime goal past replacement goalkeeper John Brian Carthy.
The momentum of that score was maintained as Quinn added a free a minute later and victory looked assured for manager Seán Fox and his team when Ballyboughal's Gerry Seaver tagged over an excellent point with three minutes remaining.
However, McHugh, who showed glimpses of his undoubted potential throughout, was to enjoy the final word with a clinical finish past Seán Blanchfield, a fitting conclusion to a barnstorming encounter and perfect preparation for Dublin ahead of their O'Byrne Cup campaign which begins with their clash with DCU AT Parnell Park next Sunday afternoon (2.00).
football: dublin 3-13 dubs stars 4-9
Scorers - Dublin: C McHugh 2-3, K O'Gara 1-2, P Hudson 0-4 (0-3f), N Walsh 0-3, C Reddin 0-1. Dubs Stars: T Quinn 3-5 (1-3f), D Gavin 1-0, N Coakley 0-3 (0-2f), G Seaver 0-1.
Dublin: E Comerford; E O'Brien, S Clayton, R McGowan; N Scully, R McDaid, C Mullally; R Deegan, C Reddin; G Sweeney, C Basquel, N Walsh; P Hudson, K O'Gara, C McHugh. Subs Used: R Gaughan, S Newcombe, R Hazley, S Cunningham, G Ivory, M Deegan, JB Carthy.
Dubs Stars: M Connolly; C Wilson, G Hannigan, T Shields; B Howard, M Mac Donncha, R O'Brien; D Gavin, S Boland; T Lahiff, G Seaver, P Small; S Smith, N Coakley, T Quinn. Subs Used: S Blanchfield, D Kerr, E O'Toole, G Carruth.
wides - Dublin: 6 (3+3). Dubs Stars: 12 (8+4).
Conditions: Cold, dry and bright.
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Mossy Quinn.
Referee: Darragh Sheppard (Round Tower Lusk)
DUBS STARS 4-9
dublin bus/herald dubs stars 2016