Gaelic Football: Dublin hold off a late Royal onslaught

by Aaron Dunne
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Leinster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final 

Dublin 2-16 / Meath1-13

Dublin fended off a massive second-half comeback from Meath in Sunday’s Leinster semi-final at Croke Park to book a place in the August 1 final against Kildare. 

The Dubs led by 11 points at the interval yet were reeled back to three points in the second period before eventually booking their berth in the provincial decide.

First-half goals from Cormac Costello, from a penalty after a foul on Brian Fenton, and a brilliant finish from Con O’Callaghan aided Dessie Farrell’s men to their strong half-time cushion.

Dublin looked comfortable and used possession efficiently in the first half as they outmanoeuvred their opponents as the half wore on to move further and further away.

“The first half there was a lot to be happy about, many pleasing aspects, but it was the exact opposite in the second half for long periods,” said Dublin manager Dessie Farrell.

“There’s a lot of experience in that team. They’ve been in those tight situations before and managed that period well.

“Obviously we need to take a look at how we ended up in that situation in the first instance, and we’ll do that, but definitely calm heads prevailed late in the game.”

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The second half, particularly on the restart, was an entirely different story as Meath opened the second half by scoring 1-4 without reply.

Dublin only tallied 0-2 in the third-quarter as their opponents hit 1-5 to take control to claw back the deficit.

But Dublin showed their steel in the dying minutes to close out the game with points from Fenton, Costello and Ciarán Kilkenny to edge out to a six-point success.

Afterwards Farell added: “It was the proverbial game of two halves. We were very good in the first half and not so good in the second.

“We made it a contest and to be fair to Meath, they threw everything at it in the second half, which we knew they would.

“We were expecting it so it was no surprise. 

“We found it difficult to deal with though.

“The game was in the melting pot for longer than we would have liked. It was good to see the bit of composure come back into our play at the end.

“We finished quite strongly in the last couple of minutes,” he added.

Brian Fenton celebrates after winning a crucial Dublin penalty against Meath  
Photo: Sportsfile

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