Derry fall to first defeat of season as Dublin raid Celtic Park

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Allianz League Division One

Derry 1-11, Dublin 1-16

It was a first defeat of the Mickey Harte era as Dublin ended Derry's perfect Division One league record with a five point victory in front of 13,265 in Celtic Park on Saturday night.

Cormac Costello's second half goal proved the crucial score in a game in which the All Ireland champions always held a measure of control against a Derry side showing SEVEN changes from the team that defeated Monaghan last time out. Four wins from their opening four games had provided Harte with the breathing space to rotate and he took the opportunity as Ethan Doherty, Padraig McGrogan, Eoin McEvoy, Niall Loughlin and Paul Cassidy dropped to the bench while neither Conor Glass nor Conor Doherty was involved in the matchday squad.

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Dublin's Paddy Small tackles Shane McGuigan of Derry. Photo: George SweeneyDublin's Paddy Small tackles Shane McGuigan of Derry. Photo: George Sweeney
Dublin's Paddy Small tackles Shane McGuigan of Derry. Photo: George Sweeney

In came Donncha Gilmore and Eunan Mulholland for a first league start while there were also places for Emmet Bradley, Declan Cassidy, Niall Toner and Cormac Murphy,with Shea Downey making a first start since the last year's Division Two trip to Cork.

That was in contrast to Dublin's solitary change as Brian Howard came into team that had dismantled Kerry last and the changes handed the Dubs an initiative they took full advantage of.

The varying approaches were reflective of need and Dublin's was certainly the greater in a division where, before throw-in, only two points separated the second place from bottom. Indeed that fact was reflected in an opening half Dessie Farrell's men dominated, but Derry's persistence ensured the would go into the break with only a two point advantage.

Indeed the game hinged on two incident in two second half minutes. Trailing by three after an improved start to the second half, Derry turned Dublin over deep inside their own half, Gilmore releasing Shane McGuigan to try an audacious 60m effort over Daviod O'Hanlon who was well off his line. The Dublin No. 1 did well to back peddled and clawed the shot away. It stopped Derry drawing level and possibly changing the game's momentum. Fast forward two minutes and Costello's first touch of leather flew into the corner of Derry's net after great work by Kilkenny. A six point swing, a six point lead and Dublin were home and dry.Those are the margins.

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Cormac Murphy of Derry shields the ball from Dublin's Cian Murphy. Photo: George SweeneyCormac Murphy of Derry shields the ball from Dublin's Cian Murphy. Photo: George Sweeney
Cormac Murphy of Derry shields the ball from Dublin's Cian Murphy. Photo: George Sweeney

Dublin had started in whirlwind fashion with Kilkenny central to everything they did. He opened the scoring only 30 seconds in before two minutes later, last week's hat-trick hero, Con O'Callaghan stepped up to double the lead. It was all Dublin at this early stage but the All Ireland champions were lucky to escape a red card when Paddy Small caught Shane McGuigan flush in the face with a dangerously high challenge that brought only a booking.

The free did allow McGuigan to open Derry's account but the Oak Leafers were playing second fiddle. The home side were staying touch, but only just as keeper Ryan Scullion was forced into a smart save to keep out a Small drive that looked bound for the net as points from O'Callaghan (f), Paddy Small and Kilkenny again had Farrell's men 0-7 to 0-3 in front 10 minutes before the break.

Momentum changed temporarily with Conor McCluskey's excellent 24th minute goal, the catalyst for which was a superb Scullion kick-out over the intense Dublin press to find Eunan Mulholland. The Glen man accelerated up the right, moved the ball back inside where Cormac Murphy picked out McCluskey who rifled home his second league goal of the season.

Dublin responded in the style with a Brian Fenton point and another from Sean Bugler but when Emmet Bradley pointed in first half injury time, it was probably the home side who went in happier.

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Harte's half-time response was emphatic, introducing Ethan Doherty, Eoin McEvoy and Paudie McGrogan while Paul Cassidy was also on within 11 minutes and it did have an impact, McGuigan fisting over a point 34 seconds in.

Kilkenny and Lachlan Murray swapped two excellent scores and McGuigan almost brought Derry right back into the game when his audacious chip which proved a watershed moment.

The Ulster champions were still only two points adrift when Dublin struck what proved the killer blow and if Costello was the executioner, the goal owed everything to the work of Kilkenny who saw his goal-bound effort scrambled off the line by McEvoy, only for the break to land perfectly for Costello to spin and shoot into the bottom corner.

At 1-12 to 1-06, the Dubs had a cushion they weren't about to relinquish and Farrell's men slipped into game management mode, seeing the game out with undue fuss as Fenton, Lorcan O'Dell and and Lee Gannon added to their tally. McGuigan, who finished with 0-7, continued to keep the scoreboard ticking for the home side but Derry rarely looked like bridging the gap.

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Dublin deserved their win but expect more from these two as the spring turns to summer!

Derry scorers: Conor McCluskey (0-1), Shane McGuigan (0-7, 3f), Emmett Bradley (0-1), Lachlan Murray (0-1), Paul Cassidy (0-1), Eoin McEvoy (0-1),Dublin scorers: Cormac Costello (1-0), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-4), Con O'Callaghan (0-3, 2f), Ross McGarry (0-2), Paddy Small (0-1), Brian Fenton (0-3), Sean Bugler (0-1), Lorcan O'Dell (0-1), Lee Gannon (0-1).

Derry: Ryan Scullion; Conor McCluskey, Chrissy McKaigue, Diarmuid Baker; Shea Downey, Donncha Gilmore, Eunan Mulholland; Emmett Bradley, Brendan Rogers; Declan Cassidy, Ciaran McFaul, Niall Toner; Lachlan Murray, Shane McGuigan, Cormac Murphy. (Subs) Ethan Doherty for Eunan Mulholland, HT; Eoin McEvoy for C McKaigue, HT; Padraig McGrogan for S Downey, HT; Paul Cassidy for C Murphy, 46mins; Conleth McGuckian for L Murray, 58mins;

Dublin: David O'Hanlon; Sean McMahon, Brian Howard, Eoin Murchan; Cian Murphy, John Small, Lee Gannon; Brian Fenton, Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne; Ross McGarry, Sean Bugler, Ciaran Kilkenny; Paddy Small, Con O'Callaghan, Niall Scully. (Subs) Tom Lahiff for Ó Cofaigh Byrne, HT; Cormac Costello for P Small, 50mins; Lorcan O'Dell for R McGarry, 55mins; Greg MCEnaney for L Gannon, 68mins; Killian McGinnis for N Scully, 72mins.

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

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