Dublin staved off a late Meath rally to emerge as 2-13 to 1-13 winners in the Leinster SFC final at Croke Park.

Pat Gilroy’s men tore into an early 0-06 to 0-01 lead, before Meath knuckled down and managed to reduce the arrears to two.

But Bernard Brogan and Denis Bastick both netted in injury-time to open up a 2-07 to 0-05 interval lead.

It was too much of a gap for the youthful Royals to peg back although they will take deserved credit from making it uncomfortable for their great rivals late on.

Having leaked a 68th minute goal to Meath substitute Jamie Queeney, the Dubs required a last-minute save from Stephen Cluxton before they could be confirmed as provincial champions for the seventh time in eight years.




As expected, Michael Darragh Macauley was withdrawn to the Dublin half-forward line for the throw-in with current Footballer of the Year Alan Brogan going in to the edge of the square.

Graham Reilly took an invitation to charge through the heart of the Dublin defence and clip over a third minute opener for Meath.

A powerful burst from Macauley set up Bernard Brogan for a levelling free and Kevin McManamon, taking a hand pass from Eamon Fennell, soon moved the defending champions ahead.

Alan Brogan picked out his brother with a clever pass and the corner forward duly right-footed Dublin into a 0-03 to 0-01 lead.

Bernard added a free in the very next attack and Meath looked to be struggling, lacking a platform from kick-outs and Reilly was their only forward showing any spark.

Dublin’s ease of movement and swift passing sliced open the Royals’ rearguard for Alan Brogan to get on the scoresheet, and Bernard tagged on another free after McManamon was felled by Donal Keogan.

Brian Farrell stopped the rot with Meath’s first point from a free, 17 minutes in, and their best attack followed as Joe Sheridan’s cross-field ball got them on the move and Stephen Bray supplied the finish.

Bernard Brogan almost got a sight of goal after David Gallagher swatted away a bouncing ball in from Denis Bastick, but the Dublin attacker was whistled up for over-carrying.

Meath had certainly grown in confidence having bounced back from a nervy opening, with youngsters Conor Gillespie and Damien Carroll getting some settling touches.

Farrell caught a high ball and drew a free which he popped over, yet the Dubs marched downfield for Alan Brogan to reply and make it 0-07 to 0-04.

However, Brogan was called ashore shortly afterwards having injured his groin. That unsettled Gilroy’s side for a time, and the Royals also had to adapt with Eoin Harrington and Cian Ward being introduced.

Farrell notched his third successful free to end a scrappy period that included poor wides from Reilly, Sheridan and McManamon.

The spate of sloppy shooting spread to Paul Flynn and Reilly again but Dublin, having lost their way slightly, reasserted their authority right on the cusp of half-time.

Meath midfielder Gillespie coughed up possession near the sideline and the Dubs broke at pace through the middle, substitute Eoghan O’Gara threading the ball through for Bernard Brogan to slam home goal number one.

Meath had barely recovered from that setback when midfielder Bastick was found in acres of space and he rifled the ball low past Gallagher into the far left corner.

They were real sucker-punch scores to concede and left the Royals eight points adrift. Seamus McEnaney’s men needed an immediate response in the second half and Farrell delivered by pointing from the right.

Goal scorer Brogan outfoxed his marker Bryan Menton to take his tally to 1-05, however the quality dipped again as a flurry of counter attacks had no end product.

The intensity lifted again in the 43rd minute as Farrell had a goal-bound shot saved by Stephen Cluxton after a bulldozing run from Gillespie. Sheridan sent the resulting ‘45 through the posts.

Two minutes later, Dublin went close to nabbing their third goal. Flynn, who was often able to get free, and Bryan Cullen were the architects but Macauley’s left-footed effort cannoned back off the post.

Although McEnaney threw Jamie Queeney on at full-forward with Sheridan taking up a midfield berth, Dublin’s defence continued to look solid.

They put together some of their best football to reel of three points in quick succession through Brogan (free), O’Gara and overlapping wing back James McCarthy.

Meath replied with a Farrell free and a well-taken score from Donnacha Tobin, yet they needed a goal at this stage and it just did not look like coming.

Brogan provided the assist for the onrushing O’Gara to curl over from the right, with that point being cancelled out by Farrell’s fifth successful free.

Into the final ten minutes, Sheridan’s wild drop-kick attempt on goal drew jeers from the Hill 16 faithful. Meath answered back with two quick-fire points though, Reilly and Farrell both scoring from close range.

That whittled Dublin’s lead down to 2-12 to 0-10 and wayward efforts from substitute Paul Brogan and Macauley took the All-Ireland champions’ wides tally into double figures.

Cue another burst from McEnaney’s charges who showed an infectious never-say-die attitude. A neat one-two with Peadar Byrne played in Reilly for a point.

Queeney’s persistence then paid off as the ball was fed in to Farrell who was fouled and dinked over the ensuing free for a 2-12 to 0-12 scoreline.

The margin was down to three points when Queeney rippled the net with a powerful right-footed shot that left Cluxton rooted to the spot. Cian Ward and Mark Collins did well to tee up their fellow substitute in the build-up.

Dublin needed a settling score and it came from a familiar source with top scorer Brogan blasting over from distance to give his side some breathing space.

The strong-running Reilly responded as the game moved into injury-time. Meath pressed for a levelling goal, yet Farrell’s hopeful attempt from a free was stopped by Cluxton as Dublin’s grip on the Delaney Cup remained a firm one.

Dublin: B Brogan 1-07 (0-04f), D Bastick 1-00, A Brogan, E O’Gara 0-02 each, K McManamon, J McCarthy 0-01 each

Meath: B Farrell 0-07 (0-06f), J Queeney 1-00, G Reilly 0-03, S Bray, J Sheridan (0-01 ‘45’), D Tobin 0-01 each

DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Rory O’Carroll, Philly McMahon; James McCarthy, Kevin Nolan, Cian O’Sullivan; Eamon Fennell, Denis Bastick; Paul Flynn, Alan Brogan, Bryan Cullen (capt); Bernard Brogan, Michael Darragh Macauley, Kevin McManamon.

Subs used: Craig Dias for Flynn (5-6 mins, blood sub), Eoghan O’Gara for A Brogan (29), Paddy Andrews for McManamon (49), Barry Cahill for Fennell (57), Craig Dias for Flynn (60), Paul Brogan for Cullen (65).

MEATH: David Gallagher; Donal Keogan, Kevin Reilly, Mickey Burke; Donnacha Tobin, Shane McAnarney (capt), Bryan Menton; Conor Gillespie, Brian Meade; Alan Forde, Damien Carroll, Graham Reilly; Brian Farrell, Joe Sheridan, Stephen Bray.

Subs used: Eoin Harrington for Reilly (25 mins), Cian Ward for Forde (28), Peadar Byrne for Carroll (half-time), Jamie Queeney for Meade (48), Mark Collins for Bray (57).

Referee: Martin Duffy (Sligo)