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blues' blitz No fairytale ending for Cavan as ruthless Dubs remain on course for six-in-a-row

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Brian Fenton of Dublin shakes hands with Cavan's Luke Fortune after the final whistle

Brian Fenton of Dublin shakes hands with Cavan's Luke Fortune after the final whistle

SPORTSFILE

Brian Fenton of Dublin shakes hands with Cavan's Luke Fortune after the final whistle

Dublin 1-24 Cavan 0-12

There were 15 minutes gone in Croke Park before Ciarán Branagan blew for the first free of the All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Cavan for a two-man foul on Paddy Small.

In all, there were just six frees in a first-half in which Cavan only once attempted to utilise Thomas Galligan’s aerial threat by aiming direct ball to the Ulster final Man Of the Match on the edge of the Dublin square.

Branagan issued no cards in that period and Cavan never came close to generating a goal chance.

Played on these terms, Dublin are likely to win either 99 or 100 per cent of their matches at the moment.

And as the half wore on, as some of the Cavan players’ lungs began to burn, it became increasingly clear that without attempting something extreme, without exerting some real physical pressure, Dublin would simply generate a higher number of scoring chances, convert a higher percentage of those and, in turn, win the game.

So it proved.

Cavan’s caution was understandable.

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Dublin's Robert McDaid palms the ball past Cavan's Raymond Galligan

Dublin's Robert McDaid palms the ball past Cavan's Raymond Galligan

Dublin's Robert McDaid palms the ball past Cavan's Raymond Galligan

Dublin beat Meath by 21 points in a bloodless Leinster final dismantling.

The last thing Cavan needed in their first All-Ireland semi-final appearance in 23 years was to allow Dublin the oxygen of an early goal.

But in allowing Dublin play the game at their own pace, to make informed decisions and execute plays, the outcome was ordained from very early.

And so Dublin make it through to their eighth All-Ireland final in ten years without playing a team capable of keeping within ten points or scoring a goal against them.

Beforehand, we wondered how long Cavan could stay in the game.

As it turned out, there was no single moment Dublin disappeared into the horizon. Just a gradual, calculated process of putting more and more distance between themselves and Cavan.

Brian Fenton put on a masterclass of movement and casual efficiency.

Con O’Callaghan, switching between the inside line and a deeper, foraging role, put in a powerful body of work in the first half.

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Philip McMahon of Dublin has a clearance blocked by Martin Reilly

Philip McMahon of Dublin has a clearance blocked by Martin Reilly

Philip McMahon of Dublin has a clearance blocked by Martin Reilly

Dean Rock, meanwhile, was the recipient of six scoring chances from play despite doing nothing more complex than sitting in that pocket of space between the ‘21 and ‘45 yards lines, just the left of goal, where he performs his best work.

And Robbie McDaid, the man tasked with replacing the irreplaceable this year, ended up with a most Jack McCaffrey-like tally of 1-2 from wing-back.

Cavan had some notable individual performers themselves.

Oisin Kiernan and Martin Reilly never stopped working, never stopped running and scored five points between them.

But the precision of Dublin’s play meant Mickey Graham’s players spent much of the game chasing ghosts.

At 0-12 to 0-7 at half-time, there was an outside prospect of a contest but Dublin scored six of the first seven points after the resumption to put the result to bed early.

By the end, Cavan were lumping balls at Galligan, who now had Philly McMahon for company, in the vain hope of getting a goal.

Dublin held firm.

Another awesome team display. Another All-Ireland final.

SCORERS – Dublin: D Rock 0-6 (2f), R McDaid 1-2, B Fenton, C Kilkenny (1m), C O’Callaghan 0-4 each, P Small 0-2 (1m), C Costello, B Howard 0-1 each. Cavan: M Reilly 0-3, J Smith, O Kiernan 0-2 each, C Brady, T Galligan, G McKiernan, C Madden, C Conroy (f) 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, D Byrne, J Cooper; E Murchan, J Small, R McDaid; B Fenton, J McCarthy; N Scully, C Kilkenny, S Bugler; P Small, C O’Callaghan, D Rock. Subs: B Howard for Bugler (48), P McMahon for Cooper (51), P Mannion for P Small (55), C Costello for Scully (64), C Basquel for Rock (70)

CAVAN: R Galligan; K Clarke, P Faulkner, L Fortune; C Brady, O Kiernan, J McLoughlin; J Smith, G McKiernan; G Smith, K Brady, M Reilly; C Madden, T Galligan. C Conroy. Subs: C Smith for K Brady (17 inj), S Murray for Conroy (35), N Murray for Clarke (46), C Brady for C Smith (52), S Smith for Madden (64)

REF: C Branagan (Down)

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