Clinical Kildare show plenty of flair to see off wasteful Dubs
Kildare 3-16 Dublin 3-13
Kildare deservedly advanced to the Leinster minor football final after overcoming Dublin at Croke Park yesterday.
They meet Longford in the decider on Sunday week and the manner of their attacking play in this victory will offer grounds for optimism.
Central to their success was the contribution of their full-forward line of Ciaran Kelly, Matthew Kelly and Jimmy Hyland, who amassed 2-8 and whose inter-play was a joy to behold at times.
In contrast, Dublin struggled for fluency despite enjoying plenty of possession.
Their inability to combine up front was in contrast to their more economical and free-flowing opponents.
The Dubs dominated the opening exchanges, but three successive wides undermined their challenge.
Kildare were far more economical and went ahead through points by Ethan O'Donoghue and Hyland.
Dublin gained reward for their midfield control when Tom Fox fired an unstoppable finish past Declan Campbell in the fifth minute following an excellent fetch by Donal McIlgorm.
They were now punching alarming holes in the Kildare defence and they added a second goal in the 13th minute when Cormac Howley fed Shane Howard for an emphatic finish.
However, Dublin's wastefulness cost them as Kildare clawed back into contention through points by Shea Ryan and Hyland.
They levelled matters when full-forward Matthew Kelly fired home a wonderful finish from an acute angle in the 25th minute and Conor Hartley shot them clear a minute later with a top quality point.
Dublin were beginning to crumble in the face of incessant pressure and the Lilies added their second goal in the 30th minute when Rory Feely converted a penalty after Dublin goalkeeper Evan Comerford was penalised for an innocuous looking challenge.
Kildare pressed on with late points by O'Donoghue, Ciaran Kelly and Hyland leaving them 2-11 to 2-5 ahead at the break.
Any hopes of a Dublin comeback were quickly dispelled in the early stages of the second-half. Two Matthew Kelly points and a stunning Hartley goal pushed them nine points clear by the 39th minute.
Dublin, though, refused to throw in the towel. Howard kicked their first point of the half before Howley added a quick-fore brace of points to add momentum to their challenge.
However, their comeback stalled when Matthew Kelly rose superbly to feed Hyland for a classy goal in the 42nd minute; a monster point from Feely confirmed Kildare's renewed control.
With Dublin's play becoming increasingly desperate, they manage to eat into their deficit through points by substitute John Kindlon and Paddy Small whose penalty in injury time, following a foul on the tireless McIlgorm, arrived too late to save the day.
Scorers - Kildare: J Hyland 1-3 (0-2f), M Kelly 1-2, R Feely 1-1 (1-0 pen), C Hartley, C Kelly (0-1f) 0-3 each, E O'Donoghue 0-2, R Shea, S Lawlor 0-1 each. Dublin: S Howard 1-4, P Small 1-2 (1-0 pen), T Fox 1-0, C Howley, J Kindlon 0-2 each, J Holland, D Keating (f), C Pearson 0-1 each.
Kildare - D Campbell; R Slattery, M Joyce, D Lawlor; G Burke, S Ryan, J Healy; D Courtney, R Feely; E O'Donoghue, C Hartley, B McLoughlin; C Kelly, M Kelly, J Hyland. Subs: S Healy for J Healy (41), S Lawlor for McLoughlin (47), K O'Callaghan for Courtney (58), R Bannon for Lawlor (60), E O'Neill for Joyce (62, BC).
Dublin: - E Comerford; D Byrne, P O'Hanlon, J Holland; C Kavanagh, B Howard, T O'Sullivan; A Elliott, D McIlgorm; T Fox, S Howard, C Pearson; P Small, C Howley, D Keating. Subs: A Bradshaw for Pearson (28), G McNamara for O'Sullivan and J Kindlon for Keating (HT), O Kelly for Fox (47), D O'Brien for Holland (58), C Kelly for Kindlon (60, BC).
Ref - Patrick Maguire (Longford)