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Dublin stride into top gear but only after Murphy sees red

 

By John Campbell

They may have benefited from Carlow's misfortune, but Dublin flashed a warning that they are going all-out for yet another Leinster title when the sides met at O'Moore Park Portlaoise.

Jim Gavin's side struggled for long periods to pull away from their gritty Division Four opponents who defended en masse, but the floodgates opened after midfielder Brendan Murphy received a second yellow card - and a red - in the 48th minute.

Only four points separated the teams at that stage but Turlough O'Brien's side had no chance with 14 men and eventually went down by 0-19 to 0-7.

Dublin themselves, who will face either Westmeath or Offaly in three weeks, could have lost a man in the second half as Diarmuid Connolly appeared to put a hand on linesman Ciaran Brannigan who hails from Down, but their quest for a seventh Delaney Cup on the trot continues.

Louth, meanwhile, rattled in three goals against Meath but could not prevent themselves losing by 0-27 to 3-9 while Kildare showed that they mean business by beating Laois by 1-21 to 1-7.

Kevin Feeley landed three points for Kildare in an imposing display while Daniel Flynn's late goal sealed their victory in fine style.

Meath, meanwhile, showed impressive fire-power in beating Louth and are expected to form the biggest threat to Dublin's chances of retaining their title.

Meath manager Andy McEntee feels that his side is capable of reaching an even higher level and the fact that he is now confronted by interesting selection options strengthens his hand.

But Dublin are still very much the team to beat with manager Gavin having the kind of strength on his bench which is the envy of every other boss in the country.

With the Leinster championship now hotting up, there will be a greater focus on how the Dubs progress as they set their sights even more firmly on three consecutive All-Ireland titles.

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