All-Ireland Football Championship Super 8s: Dublin 2-15 Donegal 0-16
|Super 8s: Dublin 2-15 Donegal 0-16|
|Dublin scorers: D Rock (0-7, 5f), N Scully (2-0), B Howard (0-2), C Costello (0-2), P Flynn (0-1), C Kilkenny (0-1), J McCarthy (0-1)|
|Donegal scorers: M Murphy (0-6, 2f, 1 45), J Brennan (0-3), M Langan (0-2), R McHugh (0-2), C Thompson (0-1), F McGlynn (0-1), E Doherty (0-1)|
Niall Scully's two goals helped Dublin overcome a game Donegal in a Super 8s encounter which petered out after a lively opening at Croke Park.
The contest turned on a frantic minute late in the first half as Jamie Brennan's missed Donegal goal chance was followed by Scully's first goal.
That helped Dublin lead 1-9 to 0-8 at half-time and Scully's second goal came three minutes after the break.
To their credit, Donegal didn't fold as they outscored Dublin thereafter.
But after going toe to toe with the All-Ireland champions for most of the first half, Dublin's second-half reinforcements meant Donegal couldn't get nearer than four down as Cormac Costello (two) and Paul Flynn both got on the scoresheet after coming on.
Donegal keeper Shaun Patton had a mixed afternoon as he struggled badly with his kickouts but made a series of tremendous saves.
Dublin, in basketball mode, ran down the clock in the closing stages to win with a degree of comfort but Donegal boss Declan Bonner will take positives from a game where his team remained competitive throughout.
Donegal will aim to win in Roscommon next Saturday to keep their hopes alive with Dublin facing a trip to Omagh to face a rejuvenated Tyrone.
Scully goal turns game in Dublin's favour
Despite Patton's kickout difficulties, Donegal matched the Dubs in the opening quarter as they fought back from two successful Dean Rock frees to take the lead on three occasions - including at 0-5 to 0-4 - helped by superb efforts from play by Frank McGlynn and Ryan McHugh.
However, a point by excellent half-back Brian Howard and Dean Rock nudged Dublin ahead again by the 26th minute and it was a lead that the four-in-a-row seeking All-Ireland champions never lost.
Brennan's missed goal chance was a huge moment as he blazed wide with his weaker left foot with only Cluxton to beat after Michael Langan had flicked on a high ball from late inclusion Stephen McMenamin.
Within 30 seconds, the ball was in the net at the other end as Scully - helped by James McCarthy's decoy run - waltzed his way past several Donegal tackles before blasting past Patton.
Donegal's final point of the first half came seconds after Paddy McGrath looked to have a penalty shout after tumbling in the large squad, with the referee opting to play advantage which eventually yielded a Murphy score.
Donegal keeper Patton had to make a brilliant save in first-half injury-time to prevent Con O'Callaghan netting a second Dublin goal after his own kickout had gone straight to the Dublin attacker just outside the 21-metre line.
Another Super 8s hammering looked a distinct possibility when Scully stroked in Dublin's second goal within three minutes of the restart after poor Donegal defending.
But Donegal outscored Dubs 0-8 to 0-6 during the remainder of the contest although the champions looked to be playing within themselves for much of the second period.
Murphy and McHugh miss absent McBrearty
In terms of the negatives in Donegal's display, Michael Murphy's effectiveness did look to be reduced by the absence of Patrick McBrearty, who will miss the rest of the campaign because of his knee injury.
Murphy did kick six points - including two from play - but was not the force that he had been during the Ulster Championship.
McBrearty's absence meant that Ryan McHugh was employed in a more forward role for much of the contest and while he did hit two points, it was a relatively subdued display from the Kilcar star.
Despite his crucial missed goal chance, Jamie Brennan was always a willing runner in the Donegal attack as he hit 0-3 while centre half-back Paul Brennan had an impressive first half with Ciaran Thompson and Hugh McFadden were excellent for Donegal in the middle third of the field.
For Dublin, Con O'Callaghan, operating at centre half-forward in Diarmuid Connolly's continuing absence, struggled badly with his finishing as he failed to beat Patton with two glorious goal chances and also missed a couple of point-scoring opportunities.
But Jim Gavin is unlikely to have been too unhappy after an evening that saw Cian O'Sullivan get more game time after injury and Jack McCafffrey making his first start since last year's All-Ireland Final win over Mayo.
Dublin: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, C O'Sullivan, E Murchan; B Howard, J McCarthy, J Cooper; B Fenton, MD Macauley; N Scully, C O'Callaghan, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, D Rock, J McCaffrey. Subs: E Comerford, C Basquel, C Costello, D Daly, P Flynn, K McManamon, P McMahon, E Lowndes, P Andrews, K McManamon, C Mullally, E O'Gara.
Donegal: S Patton; P McGrath, S McMenamin, EB Gallagher; F McGlynn, P Brennan, R McHugh; H McFadden, L McLoone; E Doherty, M Langan, C Thompson; O MacNiallais, M Murphy (capt), J Brennan. Subs: MA McGinley, N McGee, C Ward, M McHugh, D O Baoill, S McBrearty, C Gillespie, A Thompson, N O'Donnell, T McClenaghan, C Mulligan.