Dublin complete sensational late turn-a-round against Cork
Dublin 2-20 Cork 2-13
In only slightly different circumstances, Dublin wouldn't have qualified for yesterday's Allianz Football League semi-final, let alone be now preparing for a final clash with Derry.
But, for the third game in a row, the All-Ireland champions have shown remarkable character to eke out victory and keep their hopes of a successful league title defence intact.
Mayo and Tyrone failed to beat Dublin in recent weeks despite putting themselves in great positions to do so and Cork fell upon the same sword in quite dramatic circumstances yesterday.
Leading by a massive 10 points with just half an hour remaining, victory and a place in a novel league decider should have been the Rebels'.
But in one of the great Croke Park comebacks, a resurgent Dublin came thundering back into the game with 2-13 after the break, forcing a near incredible 17-point turn-a-round by full-time.
Footballer of the Year Michael Darragh Macauley gave a tour de force at midfield, getting the fight-back under way with a 40th minute goal.
Diarmuid Connolly put the gloss on an amazing win with a 66th minute penalty conversion.
It was an ominous show of force after a poor start from Dublin and a performance that will only make them even greater favourites to defeat last season's Division 2 winners Derry in the April 27 final.
"The lads demonstrate that character day in, day out when we're with them and we would have seen that mental resolve in a lot of the games last year as well," said Dublin manager Jim Gavin.
"It's pleasing to see that it's still there and that they can still tap into it."
Dublin fell 2-5 to 0-2 behind after early Cork goals. The first was a screamer from Colm O'Neill but the second was a high ball in from Mark Collins that bobbled between Stephen Cluxton and Nicky Devereux and snuck in.
With full-forward Brian Hurley also shooting five points from play, they led 2-9 to 0-7 at half-time.
Cork points from defender Jamie O'Sullivan and Daniel Goulding opened up an apparently insurmountable 2-11 to 0-7 advantage.
But Dublin's dogged determination is well known, as is the strength of their bench and substitutes contributed a whopping 10 points between them in a blitzkrieg second-half.
Dublin scorers: J Cooper (0-1), MD Macauley (1-1); P Flynn (0-1), D Connolly (1-2; 1-0p, 1f), K McManamon (0-1), P Andrews (0-3), A Brogan (0-1). Subs: E O'Gara (0-3), D Byrne (0-1), B Brogan (0-5, 3f), C Reddin (0-1).
Cork scorers: J O'Sullivan (0-1); J Loughrey, P Kelly (0-1), F Goold (0-1), M Collins (0-1), D O'Connor (0-1), D Goulding (0-2, 1f), B Hurley (0-5), C O'Neill (1-1).
Referee: C Branagan (Down).
TYRONE manager Mickey Harte has had his hand strengthened for the Ulster championship now that Conor Clarke has made a return to competitive action.
The 23-year-old was introduced from the bench when his club Omagh St Enda's met Eskra yesterday.
Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin said: "We need all our experienced players on board. We will be putting all energies into reclaiming the title."