Updated: April 2nd, 2023

Allianz FL: Derry lose out to Dublin in League decider

Dublin claimed the Allianz Football League Division 2 title on Sunday following a strong second-half performance at Croke Park.

Courtesy of GAA.ie

Derry 0-11 Dublin 4-6

A glut of second-half goals did the trick for Dublin who came from behind to secure the Allianz National Football League Division 2 title, their first piece of silverware of 2023.

Trailing at half-time and with just four points on the board, Dublin suddenly bursted into life with goals from Killian O’Gara, Paul Mannion, John Small and Lorcan O’Dell to turn the tables on the Ulster champions.

Dessie Farrell’s side had only managed five goals in their seven previous games but almost doubled that tally in one half. They could have raised more green flags on the day too with several more near misses.

O’Gara got the blitz underway with a 38th minute fisted goal before substitute Mannion converted a penalty and Small, having earlier wasted a good goal chance, blasted home Dublin’s third.

The pick of the bunch was O’Dell’s 68th minute lob over the head of Derry goalkeeper Odhran Lynch who was caught just off his line.

Derry were rocked by the 39th minute exit of All-Star midfielder Conor Glass with an apparent leg injury.

It’s Derry’s first defeat of 2023 and they will hope to bounce back to winning ways when they begin the defence of their provincial title against Division 3 finalists Fermanagh on Saturday week.

As for Dublin, they’ll return to action with a Leinster SFC quarter-final clash against Wexford or Laois on April 23.

The terms of engagement became clear in the opening passages of play when Derry pulled everyone back into their own half to defend a Dublin attack.

A couple of plays later, Dublin did the exact same with a snapshot of the exchanges showing every single blue jersey back in their own half.

It was to be a game of counter attacking and high pressing then and, initially at least, Derry thrived in this environment, opening up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.

Shane McGuigan, picked up by Michael Fitzsimons at the beginning, burst beyond his man in the sixth minute for a neat point off his left boot from the left of goals.

Two minutes later, Glass underlined his quality with a raking point from almost 45 metres out.

Ciaran Kilkenny, who surprisingly started on the bench before being introduced after nine minutes for the injured Dean Rock, pulled back a score for Dublin when he fisted over.

But two more Derry points, both from placed balls by Padraig McGrogan and Niall Toner, put clear daylight between the teams with the Oak Leafers now three ahead.

It took Dublin 20 minutes or so before they finally built up any momentum in the game. Up to then, anything they carved out in an attacking sense seemed to end in a turnover or a miscued shot that dropped short or wide.

But when O’Gara booted their second score, it ignited a mini scoring burst and Small fired just over shortly after.

Small probably should have gone for goal, or laid it off to a colleague, but it was still an important point in a low scoring game.

Dublin briefly got it back to level terms at 0-4 apiece but back to back Derry points, both from McGuigan following good work in the buildup by Glass and Ben McCarron, left the Division 2 table toppers with a 0-6 to 0-4 half-time lead.

It was tight, tense and tactical with a number of intriguing matchups developing. Conor McCluskey picked up Dublin dangerman Con O’Callaghan while the two number eights, Glass and Brian Fenton, faced off in the middle third.

Fitzsimons initially went with McGuigan but David Byrne ended up on the 2022 All-Star nominee as the first-half progressed. 

Dublin berated themselves for a number of butchered point attempts, Kilkenny unusually failing to hit the target with consecutive efforts off his left foot.

It all gave the impression of a Dublin team with more to offer though Derry made life desperately difficult with so many men flooding back when required.

The goals that Dublin craved suddenly came flooding through in the second-half as things swung decisively in their direction.

Just three minutes in, O’Gara rose up highest and redicted Fenton’s long ball in to the Derry net.

Lee Gannon added a point before O’Callaghan was fouled by McCluskey for a penalty that substitute Mannion converted.

Two minutes later, O’Dell and Tom Lahiff combined to play in Small who smashed a left footed shot to the Derry net.

Defender Daire Newcombe should have grabbed Dublin’s fourth goal after O’Callaghan’s inviting ball across in the 56th minute but his palmed effort somehow hit the woodwork.

O’Dell took matters into his own hands with two minutes of normal time remaining, spying Lynch just off his line and punishing him with that fourth Dublin goal.

Scorers for Dublin: Killian O’Gara 1-1, John Small 1-1, Paul Mannion 1-0 (pen), Lorcan O’Dell 1-0, Tom Lahiff 0-1, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-1, Brian Fenton 0-1, Lee Gannon 0-1.

Scorers for Derry: Shane McGuigan 0-6 (0-3f), Paul Cassidy 0-2, Niall Toner 0-1 (0-1f), Conor Glass 0-1, Padraig McGrogan 0-1.

Dublin: David O’Hanlon; Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne, Daire Newcombe; Cian Murphy, John Small, Lee Gannon; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Colm Basquel, Sean Bugler, Tom Lahiff; Killian O’Gara, Dean Rock, Con O’Callaghan.

Subs: Ciaran Kilkenny for Dean Rock 9, Lorcan O’Dell for Basquel 44, Paul Mannion for O’Gara 44, Niall Scully for Lahiff 55, Ross McGarry for Bugler 68.

Derry: Odhran Lynch; Conor McCluskey, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan; Conor Doherty, Padraig Cassidy, Paul Cassidy; Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers; Niall Toner, Ethan Doherty, Ben McCarron; Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Niall Loughlin.

Subs: Lachlan Murray for Heron 35, Shea Downey for Glass 39, Niall O’Donnell for Doherty 47- 52 blood, Matthew Downey for Heron 57, Eoin McEvoy for McGrogan 68, O’Donnell for Rogers 73-f/t.

Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo).