Routine win is marred by Kilkenny blow
CIARÁN Kilkenny joins Kerry's Colm Cooper on the sidelines for the rest of the 2014 season after his knee injury sustained against Kildare was confirmed as an ACL rupture.
The curse of the cruciate has laid low the two top-quality centre-forwards, and the championship will be all the poorer for their absence.
Kilkenny got an accidental knock against Kildare at Croke Park and had to be assisted off the pitch before he had broken sweat.
The 20-year-old All-Ireland winner had a scan on the knee yesterday and received the bad news that the cruciate ligament on his left leg was torn.
In a statement, Dublin manager Jim Gavin said: 'On a personal level, this is very frustrating for Ciarán, who has played a vital role in the recent successes in both hurling and football for his county and club at all grades.
'Protocols have been activated to ensure that Ciarán will receive the best of medical care, and the Dublin football coaching staff will actively assist Ciarán in his recovery over the weeks and months ahead.
'We wish Ciarán a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back to full health in the near future.'
The news puts a damper on the feel-good factor for Dublin after the comprehensive victory over Kildare at Croke Park. Defeat to Cork the previous week served to galvanise the Dubs into a positive response and Kildare suffered the fallout.
The game was a personal triumph for Kevin McManamon, who scored 0-8, four from frees, but there was also collective satisfaction from a powerful attacking display that produced 23 scores.
Ten players of the 21 used by Dublin – including goalscorer Paddy Andrews and goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton – got on the scoresheet.
It could have been more, and despite Kildare getting close enough to see the whites of Cluxton's eyes on five occasions, the Dubs always had too much to offer in all departments.
Manager Gavin now looks forward to the away games against Derry (Sunday) and Tyrone, with Dublin's last home match against Mayo sandwiched in between those fixtures on March 29.
'The squad did a lot of reflection during the week and identified areas that we could improve on. We tried some new things today. Some worked, some didn't,' he said.
'I thought defensively we did well. We learned a lot of our lessons from the Cork game.
'I thought the full-backs – Sean George, Philly McMahon and Mick Fitzsimons and Darragh Nelson, who came on – all played their part against a very good Kildare team that have been playing well together since the O'Byrne Cup final.
'They've put up big scores and they put up another big score again today, but I thought we coped well with that threat.
'Both sets of forwards created some great opportunities and I'm sure they'll (Kildare) be disappointed, as were we, with some of the ones we created and didn't take. That's more work for back on the training field.'
McManamon, probably unfairly thought of as a supersub, was in flying form, and deservedly won the man of the match award.
Gavin and opposing manager Jason Ryan were united in their praise for the St Jude's clubman.
'I'm delighted for Kevin. He put a big shift in there today and he got some great scores along the way,' said Gavin.
Ryan's disappointment at the result was evident, but he accepted that McManamon was unstoppable on the night.
'If he gets very confident and gets a number of scores, they just keep coming. He seems to be a player that thrives on a number of scores and develops from there. We struggled with his speed and strength. His finishing was clinical. We didn't have a great deal of answers for him,' said Ryan.
On the credit side for Kildare, they did open up the Dubs, but twice the woodwork denied Cathal McNally, and Cluxton made two great blocks from the same player.
Tomás O'Connor was denied a goal chance by sterling defensive work late in the match.
It wasn't all one way in the near-miss department. Hugh McGrillen dived to deflect another goal-bound shot by O'Gara in the first half, and Kildare keeper Shane Connolly made a fine reaction save against the same player in the second half.
McGrillen was, however, notably caught out by Andrews, who flicked the ball clear of the Kildare defender from a high ball in by Davy Byrne, and rifled in a blistering shot for the Dubs goal in the 21st minute.
At a stroke, Dublin were 1-7 to 0-4 ahead. In the closing minutes of the first half, Darroch Mulhall with a point, and then a goal from close range, plus a Paul Cribbin score, raised Kildare hopes as they went into the interval only four points adrift, 1-10 to 1-6.
Kildare's cause wasn't helped when full-back Mick Foley was sent off on a black card for a foul on Byrne in the 43rd minute. Foley was replaced by David Hyland, who also fell victim to the black card in the 68th mninute.
By then the jig was up for Kildare. Dublin had utilised their bench, including bringing on Alan Brogan, to maintain the momentum, and Kildare were struggling for respectability.
The attacking scenario whereby half-backs Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy and Jonny Cooper raided deep into Kildare territory at pace , particularly in the first half, was a problem to which the Lilies never found a solution.
Up front, O'Gara's strength, Andrews' work rate, and McManamon's pace and jinking moves through the covering defenders kept punching holes in the Kildare rearguard.
That said, Ryan knows that the margin could have been tighter if Kildare had scored a goal or two more.
Dublin: S Cluxton 0-2 (1f, 1 '45), P McMahon, S George, M Fitzsimons, J McCaffrey, J McCarthy, J Cooper 0-2, C O'Sullivan 0-2, MD Macauley, P Andrews 1-3, C Kilkenny, B Cullen 0-1, K McManamon 0-8 (4f), C Reddin, E O'Gara 0-2. Subs: D Byrne 0-1 for Kilkenny, A Brogan for Reddin, D Nelson for Fitzsimons, S Carthy for Cullen, D Daly for Cooper, T Brady 0-1 for O'Sullivan
Kildare: S Connolly, M O'Grady, M Foley, H McGrillen, K Murnaghan, K Cribbin, P Cribbin 0-1, T Moolick, G White, C McNally, E O'Flaherty 0-2 (1f), S Hurley, P Brophy 0-1, T O'Connor, D Mulhall 1-6 (3f). Subs: F Conway for McGrillen, P O'Neill for White, D Hyland for Foley (BC), P Fogarty 0-1 for K Cribbin, M Conway 0-1 for McNally, S Campbell for Hyland (BC).
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).