Hurling: Dubs ease into Semple decider
Blues U21s face Tribes after 26-point win over Antrim
AN opening-minute goal from Mark Schutte got Dublin off to a flying start as they cruised to a facile 26-point victory (3-23 to 0-6) over a limited Antrim in their one-sided Bord Gáis All-Ireland U21 Hurling Championship semi-final at Páirc Esler Newry last Saturday afternoon.
The Dubs' reward is a final berth against Galway, impressive semi-final victors over Limerick, on September 10 in Semple Stadium.
Dublin were allowed to do pretty much as they pleased over the hour with the template set early on as Schutte gathered a lengthy Ger McManus puck-out before embarking on a solo run which culminated in a stunning strike into the top right-hand corner of the net from 15 metres.
Schutte's aerial dominance was a recurring theme of the first-half in particular with the Cuala man providing a totemic presence at centre-forward, but there was little else in their attacking play that impressed in what was a sloppy opening-half performance.
Point opportunities were spurned on numerous occasions in favour of potential goal opportunities with Seán McGrath, Eamon Dillon and Niall McMorrow all guilty of indecisiveness when placed through on goal while the delivery into the inside-forward line lacked direction at times.
However, such was their dominance that Dublin were never likely to be punished by an overwhelmed Antrim side that encouragingly registered two points inside the opening seven minutes through Michael Devlin and James Black but had to wait another 42 minutes to score from open play when Paddy McNaughton added a point from centrefield.
Kevin O'Loughlin and Schutte were largely responsible for Dublin's 1-9 tally in the first-half with the former hitting 0-5, including three frees and a sideline, while the latter added two points to his earlier goal as the Dubs enjoyed an eight-point interval advantage.
There was a marked improvement to Dublin's display after the break and they blitzed their opponents with a 1-4 salvo within five minutes of the restart.
Schutte was heavily involved in the goal as he burst through in the 31st minute to place Dillon clean through and although Eoin Gillan did well to parry the initial effort, McGrath was on hand to poke home from close range to effectively settle the tie as a contest.
Four points followed for the Dubs with Dillon bagging two scores while Schutte and Dean Curran also added points as Dublin improved on their decision-making, albeit against a by-now overrun Antrim side.
Antrim looked to stem the flow of scores towards their goal by redeploying an extra defender as the half progressed but that just allowed the Dublin half-back line of Curran, team captain Liam Rushe and Martin Quilty to enjoy an armchair ride as they collected misplaced clearances at their ease.
Niall McMorrow took advantage of the looseness in play with three superb second-half points.
Dublin's strength from the bench was also highlighted with Tomás Connolly, Odhran Ó Maoiléidigh and Ben Quinn all making scoring contributions when introduced with Quinn's 56th-minute goal from Connolly's pass sealing an emphatic win for the Dubs.