Derry should be favourites for final insists Connolly

by Aaron Dunne
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League Division 2

Dublin 0-16

Louth 1-6

Derry should be favourites for  their Allianz Football League Division 2 final clash with Derry this Sunday, according to former county star Diarmuid Connollly.

Dublin secured promotion back to the top flight and a place in this weekend’s decider with a win over Louth last weekend, the only blot on their copybook during the campaign a narrow defeat to table toppers and final opponents Derry.

“We’ve seen Derry’s full hand throughout the league, they have a very strong squad and a great system of play,” said St Vincent’s star and former Dublin All-Star Connolly (inset).

“Dublin, on the other hand, can be brilliant in patches, but average at times as well. I was up at the Derry game against Dublin and there was very little in it.

“It could be a different story at Croke Park and we’ll see how Derry match up to them there, but Derry are unbeaten and at the moment I would have them as favourites.”

The return of Stephen Cluxton, meanwhile, caught all the headlines ahead of Dublin’s seven-point win over a plucky Louth side.

The de facto Allianz league play off was an elementary affair unlike the return of the eight-time All-Ireland winner.

A dominant second half from Dessie Farrell’s men saw them power on to win by seven in the finish and make a host of substitutions. Cluxton did not make an appearance, but Paul Mannion did, and that adds further credentials to Dublin’s hopes for championship glory.

In the short term, Dublin have a league final date with Derry this Sunday to look forward to. Louth will take comfort in their league position and performance overall but were surely disappointed with their second half.

Dublin could be forgiven if their opening half was slightly distracted. Louth tore into the game in front of an excited travelling crowd.

Ciarán Downey linked up well with Ryan Burns and the Newtown Blues man sent the supporters wild early on with the lead point.

The sides would go level three times in the even first half. Ballyboden’s Colm Basquel is well used to winning in Croke Park and he put his hand up also with two points that pushed Dublin into a 0-5 to 0-4 lead at the short whistle.

Five patient Dublin points after the break crushed Louth’s chances but not their resolve. Brian Fenton, Basquel, newcomer Daire Newcombe – who picked up the Man of the Match award –  and Cormac Costello upped the ante.

Louth struck back with a Liam Jackson goal but Dublin held on to claim the win they needed.

Dublin substitute Stephen Cluxton (right) watches the second half of Allianz Football League Division 2 match between Dublin and Louth at Croke Park on Sunday. The Dubs face Derry in the Division 2 final on Sunday. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

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