Dublin 1-15 Donegal 1-10

It wasn’t vintage Dublin, but the All-Ireland champions are back in another semi-final, following their 1-15 to 1-10 win over Donegal at Croke Park, which sets up a mouth-watering clash with Kerry.

Despite having two players sent off in the second half and also losing Brian Fenton to a black card late on, Dublin had enough composure and class to see off the side that shocked them two years ago.

In the opening half, Dean Rock was steady on the frees, while Diarmuid Connolly and  Paddy Andrews hit spectacular scores to help the Dubs to a 0-9 to 0-4 interval lead.

But the Ulster men hit back with a 43rd minute Ryan McHugh goal, before Connolly was dismissed on a second booking.

Dublin however always looked the better side, and sealed the win with a Paul Mannion goal in stoppage time.

Dean Rock and Philly McMahon were on the score-board early, and the Dubs could have had a goal when Jon Small sent Diarmuid Connolly through.

He did everything perfectly as he skipped around a defender, but pulled his shot just wide of the far post.

Michael Murphy got the Ulster men off the mark with a 13th minute free, and the Donegal skipper had the sides level from a ’45 in the 19th minute.

But the Dubs were beginning to get their running game going, with plenty of men in support, hitting three on the spin to put some space between the teams.

Murphy alternated between full forward and midfield, where he was picked up by Cian O’Sullivan and Paul Flynn respectively, while David Byrne kept a close and effective watch on Paddy McBrearty, scorer of 11 points in the quarter final win over Cork.

Murphy kept the north-west men in touch with a monster free, but their defence was looking increasingly fragile, and the quality of Dublin’s front men was soon delighting the Hill 16 faithful.

Connolly and Paddy Andrews turned on the style with spectacular scores to make it 0-7 to 0-3 after half an hour.

Place-kicker Rock and the entertainer Connolly had pushed their side into a 0-9 to 0-4 lead by the halfway stage, and Rock stretched the advantage to seven.

But in the 43rd minute, Donegal crafted a goal. Leo McLoone and Marty O’Reilly combined in the build-up, and it was corner back Eamonn McGee who crossed for Ryan McHugh to palm to the net past Stephen Cluxton.

And the Dubs were reduced to 14 men three minutes later when Connolly picked up a second booking.

Murphy swung over another free to narrow the gap to three going into the final 15 minutes.

But Dublin kept their composure, and displayed calmness and confidence in possession, patiently creating the opportunities for Kevin McManamon and Jonny Cooper to knock over reassuring points.

Murphy and McBrearty did keep the Ulster men in touch with scores, but Dublin were able to close out the game.

Eoghan O’Gara, who came on as a late sub, will miss the last four clash with Kerry after receiving a straight red card in stoppage time.

The Metropolitans sealed the deal when Mannion slalomed his way through for a solo goal deep into stoppage time.

Dublin: S Cluxton, P McMahon (0-01), J Cooper (0-01), D Byrne, C Kilkenny (0-01), C O’Sullivan, J Small, B Fenton, MD Macauley, P Flynn, K McManamon (0-03), P Andrews (0-01), D Rock (0-05, 5f), D Connolly (0-02), B Brogan.

Subs: D Daly for Brogan (48), D Bastick for Macauley (53), P Mannion (1-01) for Andrews (56), E O’Gara for McManamon (67), Eric Lowndes for Rock (72)

Donegal: MA McGinley, P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee, R McHugh (1-00), K Lacey, F McGlynn, R Kavanagh, O MacNiallais, A Thompson (0-01), M McElhinney, E McHugh, P McBrearty (0-03, 2f), M Murphy (0-06, 5f, 1 ’45), M O’Reilly.

Subs: C Gillespie for MacNiallais (h-t), L McLoone for Kavanagh (41), C Toye for Thompson (48) M McHugh for E McGee (54), C Thompson for McElhinney (60), C McFadden for Lacey (70)

Referee: C Branagan (Down).