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Rossies ask some tough questions for 40 minutes before Dublin turn the screw

Dublin 2-14 Roscommon 1-12

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UNDER PRESSURE: Dean Rock of Dublin is tackled by Conor Devaney (left) and Conor Daly of Roscommon during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Dr Hyde Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

UNDER PRESSURE: Dean Rock of Dublin is tackled by Conor Devaney (left) and Conor Daly of Roscommon during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Dr Hyde Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

UNDER PRESSURE: Dean Rock of Dublin is tackled by Conor Devaney (left) and Conor Daly of Roscommon during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Dr Hyde Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

One more game into Dublin's 'recovery' and a few more awkward questions have been answered.

Theory number one: that Dublin's early-spring blip was a sign of trouble in the year ahead.

Well, that's been debunked in double-quick fashion, just as long as it took to dispatch a pair of Connacht pretenders, Mayo and now Roscommon. From being four points adrift of a Division 1 final berth, they are now second in the table on scoring difference, ahead of Mayo and Galway.

Theory number two: that Dublin aren't remotely as convincing when removed from their Croke Park 'comfort zone'.

Well, only up to a point ... or to be more precise, up to the time Conor Cox fisted Roscommon into a two-point lead (1-11 to 1-9) some two minutes after the restart.

Up to then, it had been a spectacularly enjoyable contest, even more so given the monsoon that fell over the country yesterday. It was robust, full-on football, ebbing and flowing both ways, the Rossies giving as good as they got in front of a captive Hyde Park audience.

Vice-grip

And then it all changed. Dublin established a vice-grip on possession. The hosts physically flagged - perhaps no surprise given the energy levels required to match the relentless pace of the four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions.

They still led by a point prior to Dean Rock's 51st minute goal, but the momentum had already shifted.

Thereafter, there was only ever going to be one outcome - and the margin might well have been greater but for some scattergun shooting by the Dubs.

They hit 1-5 without reply but also seven wides, one off the post and another three short in the midst of a 32-minute scoring famine from their hosts.

Not that Jim Gavin was complaining: he was delighted by Dublin's response in (albeit short-lived) adversity.

"They went ahead by two points in the second half and it was a great test of our character, and the desire of the Dublin players, and I thought they responded to that really well and we finished strongly," Gavin noted.

Sceptics may point to the concession of 1-9 in the first half, 1-6 of that coming after Dublin had surged five clear after Con O'Callaghan's 19th-minute goal.

Bullet

O'Callaghan was a livewire presence throughout, and his first-time bullet finish (after the triple-teamed Rock had somehow pawed the ball into his path) looked decisive at the time.

Instead, the Rossies raised the temperature again and were rewarded with a goal just shy of the half-hour, Cathal Cregg finishing smartly past the returning Stephen Cluxton after a speculative Donie Smith skyscraper was broken down by Ciaran Lennon as he tussled with David Byrne.

It's not the first goal conceded this spring via the aerial route, and Roscommon hit three of the next four points to leave it all-square at the break.

Any cause for panic? "Not at all," Gavin demurred. "Roscommon are a really classy side; it's no surprise that they can get these scores.

"Again, we just reset the guys at half-time and not much was said to them. I thought they were trying really hard and I thought collectively there were some great attacks, some great defending and that was consistent throughout the game - no matter who we had on the pitch."

Dublin's second goal banished any lingering prospect of a shock. It had echoes of their first goal in reverse: this time O'Callaghan was bottled up but, in the goalmouth scrum, Rock's first-time shot had just enough purchase to trickle inside the post.

The Rossies were now running on empty and there was no way back, even before Conor Devaney's double-yellow dismissal on 66 minutes.

"You'd have to credit the guys for a tremendous first half. We were worth our position at half-time," their manager, Anthony Cunningham, surmised.

"A bit disappointed with the second half; didn't get to the levels we wanted to. And Dublin are Dublin - they're an outstanding team. No matter who they've out on the pitch, they're brilliant footballers and play to a brilliant system. That's the level we want to get to."

For now, though, lying just one point above the relegation zone, it's all about survival. "We're fighting for our lives," Cunningham admitted ahead of Saturday week's trek to Salthill and a must-win date with Galway.

Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 1-5 (4f, 1 '45'), C O'Callaghan 1-1, P Andrews 0-3 (1m), N Scully 0-2, C O'Connor, C Basquel, D Gavin 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Cox 0-4 (1f), C Cregg 1-0, C Lavin ('45'), R Daly, N Kilroy, D Smith, E Smith, C Lennon (m), D Murray, A Lyons 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Cluxton; A McGowan, J Cooper, D Byrne; J McCaffrey, C O'Sullivan, C O'Connor; B Fenton, D Gavin; N Scully, C O'Callaghan, C Basquel; C Costello, D Rock, P Andrews. Subs: R McDaid for McCaffrey (inj 10), P Mannion for Costello (45), B Howard for McGowan (51), P Flynn for Basquel (51), MD Macauley for Fenton (72).

Roscommon: C Lavin; G Patterson, C Daly, D Murray; C Devaney, N Daly, R Daly; T O'Rourke, S Killoran; E Smith, D Smith, N Kilroy; C Lennon, C Cox, C Cregg. Subs: S Mullooly for Kilroy (52), C Compton for E Smith (inj 52), A Lyons for Cregg (inj 57), C Hussey for Killoran (59), H Darcy for D Smith (inj 64).

Wides: Dublin 9 (2+7); Roscommon 4 (2+2)

Yellow: Dublin 1 (Cooper 72); Roscommon 4 (N Daly 42, C Daly 50, Devaney 62, 66)

Red: Roscommon 1 (Devaney 2nd yellow 66)

Ref: P O'Sullivan (Kerry)

Att: 6,500 (est)

Man of the match: Con O'Callaghan


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