Dublin blitz Roscommon with late scoring spree in front of sparse Croke Park crowd

All-Ireland champions scored 2-4 without response from the 55th minute with goals from Colm Basquel and Con O’Callaghan

All-Ireland SFC round 1: Dublin 2-19 Roscommon 0-13

It isn’t every day that Dublin are forced to call for the cavalry as early as they did against Roscommon in their opening match of the All-Ireland series.

With only 52 minutes played, the All-Ireland title holders already had Seán Bugler, Jack McCaffrey, Colm Basquel and Paddy Small drafted in.

All four bring pace and penetration and that’s what Dublin were lacking in a game that didn’t seem to be inspiring the hosts all that much.

That was perhaps partly to do with the tiny crowd which appeared to be around 15,000, half what showed up for last year’s fixture at the same stage.


As a humdrum encounter played out, it seemed like those who opted for the armchair might even have made the right decision, though Dublin suddenly came good in the closing stages.

In all, they picked off 2-4 without response from the 55th minute, with the goals coming from Basquel in the 66th minute and top scorer Con O’Callaghan, who hit 1-4 overall, in the 70th minute.

It turned out to be a dozen-point win, just like that, but the scoreline didn’t do much justice to Roscommon’s efforts for the guts of an hour. Like Louth in the Leinster final, they came armed with a counterattacking mindset and trailed by just a point at half-time, 0-9 to 0-10.

Their efficiency was excellent initially and in Diarmuid Murtagh, Conor Cox and Daire Cregg they had a full-forward line capable of fattening themselves off scraps.

That hand to mouth existence wasn’t sustainable though, not when Dublin belatedly got interested and the Sam Maguire Cup holders made sure of the win that has left them sitting pretty in their group.

“There was probably a narrative that developed around this game that it was going to be Dublin at a canter or whatever,” said Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. “We definitely weren’t expecting that. We knew that Roscommon had five weeks to prepare for this game, that’s a long time planning and prepping for one opposition, for one opponent.

“We knew they were going to come with all guns blazing, they’re very organised, well drilled and stuck to their game plan very, very well. We anticipated it was going to be the back end of this game when it was going to be won.”

That was a solid prediction, though a more enthusiastic Dublin may have put the game to bed a good bit earlier.

The problem for such a successful team, that has just won its 14th consecutive Leinster title, is finding the motivation to red line it when so many supporters didn’t even fancy turning up.

Roscommon manager Davy Burke couldn’t understand why the game was played at the 82,000-plus venue.

“Why is this place open today, like?” he wondered. “It doesn’t need to be open today. It could have been packed into Tullamore, packed into Parnell Park, packed in anywhere. There would have been a better atmosphere.”

Not that it seemed to bother Roscommon. They were in this fixture for almost 60 minutes until Dublin turned on the afterburners. While Roscommon’s full-forward line accounted for all of their scores, Burke conceded that All-Star Enda Smith didn’t set the world alight and is showing low form. John Small, who marked him well and was man of the match, had an input to that.

“He’s probably not playing his best, I think that’s fairly obvious that he’s not playing his best,” said Burke. “When you’re an All-Star, there’s a bigger X on your back, isn’t there? Maybe he’s suffering from that, I don’t know. I’d say Enda is frustrated himself. He will open up, I hope it’s next Saturday but he will open up.”

Roscommon will host Mayo at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday while Dublin will travel to play Cavan the same day.

The Sky Blues could be without defender Cian Murphy who was terrific here, scoring two points and then injuring himself in the course of a full blooded block. Farrell didn’t specify what the injury was and simply said they will assess it. Captain James McCarthy is also in bother and didn’t feature in the 26.

“James picked up an injury the last day, the Louth game,” said Farrell. “He’s had a rough time of it with injuries over the season. I think a lesser man would have given up at this stage of his career but he is working hard on his rehab and recovery and we hope to see him before the end of the season.”

McCarthy’s Ballymun clubmate, goalkeeper Evan Comerford, will miss the rest of the year with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Stephen Cluxton was in place for this one and marshalled a defence that, after leaking two Leinster final goals, kept a welcome clean sheet.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; S MacMahon, E Murchan, M Fitzsimons; B Howard, C Murphy (0-2), J Small (0-1); B Fenton (0-2), T Lahiff (0-1); R McGarry (0-2), C Costello (0-2, 0-2f), C Kilkenny; P Mannion (0-2), C O’Callaghan (1-4), N Scully (0-2).

Subs: S Bugler (0-1) for Mannion (45 mins); J McCaffrey for Lahiff (48); C Basquel (1-0) for Scully, P Small for McGarry (both 52); T Clancy for Murphy (63).

ROSCOMMON: C Carroll; R Dolan, B Stack, D Murray; N Higgins, N Daly, E McCormack; E Smith, T O’Rourke; D Ruane, D Smith, C Lennon; D Murtagh (0-5, 0-2f), D Cregg (0-4, 0-1f), C Cox (0-4, 0-1f).

Subs: S Cunnane for O’Rourke, U Harney for D Smith (both 43 mins); R Fallon for Daly (50); B O’Carroll for Ruane (55); K Doyle for Cox (70).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).