All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Group 3, round three
Dublin 3-23 Sligo 0-8
THUNDER grumbled overhead at Kingspan Breffni while, down below, Dublin tormented Sligo with lightning fast football to comfortably secure their All-Ireland SFC quarter-final place.
The horizon looks Sky Blue and inviting now for the Championship favourites.
Trailing by a point after a humdrum opening quarter, they suddenly opened up and hit the Division Four champions with all the force of a flash flood to secure the victory by half-time when they led by 12.
Dublin approached the encounter knowing they needed to beat Sligo by more than Roscommon beat Kildare to secure top spot in Group 3.
As it turned out, Roscommon didn’t win but Dublin fulfilled their side of the bargain with goalscorers Con O’Callaghan and Collie Basquel applying the finishing touches to some sumptuous attacking moves.
Basquel also set up a major for Eoin Murchan while Paddy Small helped himself to five points on a day when there were 10 different Dublin scorers.
“I thought we were clinical,” said manager Dessie Farrell.
“In the second period of the first half, we kicked into gear. We came out after half-time then and continued in that vein when there was perhaps the possibility to step off it at that stage. But we didn’t. We showed an element of ruthlessness.”
Sligo kicked four first half wides, dropped a couple of shots short and also hit a post, while Pat Spillane dragged a shot at goal just wide.
Boss Tony McEntee acknowledged they were never likely to win, but felt they could have made life more difficult for the Dubs.
“For 20 minutes, we looked to be managing okay and then we gave away what I think was a very slack goal at that stage,” said McEntee.
“And then they pinned us down on our kick-outs. We got absolutely hammered on kick-outs.
“I was disappointed at that stage that we couldn’t tweak it with some short kick-outs maybe. It looked like we had given up the ghost a wee bit.
“The reality is that they’re just leagues apart from us.”
Sligo’s season is over but Dublin’s is just getting going. They’ll return in a fortnight for an All-Ireland quarter-final, possibly outside of Croke Park.
A late knock to Sean Bugler aside, it was all positive for Dublin who never let up once O’Callaghan netted.
That goal opened the floodgates for Dublin who outscored Sligo by 3-15 to 0-1 between the 19th and 49th minutes.
Basquel bagged Dublin’s second goal after the restart following a stunning solo run.
Three minutes later he took off on a similar dribble before laying off to Murchan to palm home.
Roscommon 1-15 Kildare 1-16
A LAST-gasp Kevin Feely point topped off Kildare’s best performance of the summer to date as they overcame Roscommon at Glenisk O’Connor Park to secure second place in Group 3.
The Lilywhites were hands down the better side for the majority of the game, apart from a 15-minute spell in the first half when black cards for Alex Beirne and Ryan Houlihan put them on the back foot.
Kildare put down a marker early on, opening up a 1-4 to 0-2 lead, with Beirne producing their goal through a spectacular first-time volley. Roscommon kicked five of their 11 wides in that opening quarter and their early wastefulness was ultimately costly.
Although Newbridge is currently unavailable as a venue, Kildare will at least get to choose the ground for their preliminary quarter-final, while Roscommon will be travelling.