This was a case of Dublin out–‘Tyroning’ Tyrone. The Leinster champions were imperious and cruelly exposed their Ulster opponents in the wide expanses of Croke Park.
Dublin showed no sign of rustiness having not played for four weeks. Instead they were refreshingly exuberant with a mesmerising performance that should really worry Donegal. Indeed they were not flattered by the scoreline having missed numerous goal opportunities especially between the 40th and 45th minutes.
Pat Gilroy came of age, making three decisive changes and surprising everyone with the inclusion of Barry Cahill who worked tirelessly and effectively but not as a man-marker as expected.
Gilroy’s biggest achievement was in turning his clubmate from an ineffective performer in the Leinster final to star performer in this particular match.
It is effective man-management that makes team bosses great, not tactics, and certainly his handling of Diarmuid Connolly is noteworthy. Connolly could do no wrong scoring freely with both feet and overshadowed the majestic Brogan brothers.
He played ‘in the pocket’, often dropping off the front two where he could kick freely whilst facing at the target. Tyrone could never get the better of him and he provided the perfect foil for this impressive forward performance.
Dublin moved the ball fluidly and quickly mixing hand and kick passing for more directness. They wisely made great use of the diagonal ball and switched the play with great effect never allowing the Red Hand players time to get back and cover.
In a terrific match, played at helter-skelter speed in difficult and slippery conditions both teams went at it toe-to-toe.
But did this contribute to Tyrone’s downfall?
Perhaps their greatest problem was the fact that they had not played anyone at the intensity of Dublin. Certainly Longford, Armagh and Roscommon are not a patch on Dublin and this match was effectively gone at half time.
They looked ponderous and off the pace giving away yards especially in the full-back line. In fact the Dublin full forward line scored a remarkable 14 points from play.
To Tyrone’s eternal credit they never gave up and were much improved in the second half following the addition of Dooher and O’Neill.
They lacked pace throughout and were totally out-manoeuvred in midfield and toothless in the full forward line. How they miss a fully-fit Stephen O’Neill to play alongside the relentless Mark Donnelly.
Tyrone will have to re-build but they are far from a finished force. On this performance, Dublin would be a match for anyone.
They have what all teams need to win and All-Ireland; a hunger and desire to bridge the gap from 1995.