Dublin claim fourth league title in a row with victory over 14-man Kerry
Dublin 2-18 Kerry 0-13
Dublin maintained their recent dominance over rivals Kerry at Croke Park, winning their fourth successive National League title before a record attendance.
The game turned in their favour when Aidan O’Mahony was red-carded in the 50th minute. Referee Eddie Kinsella sent the veteran defender to the line after an incident with Jonny Cooper which left the Dubliner holding his face. At that point the game was delicately balanced, with Dublin holding a two-point lead.
Kerry, two points down at the interval, had fallen four behind early in the second half but a run of three scores raised their hopes of really pushing on and possibly exacting some retribution for their All-Ireland final defeat last September. The sending off, however, ended their hopes and in the remaining 20-minute period they were outscored 2-5 to 0-2.
The second Dublin goal came deep into injury-time through Eric Lowndes, one of a number of Dublin subs to make an impact. Kevin McManamon replaced a rusty Diarmuid Connolly and chipped over two points Cormac Costello also added something when introduced. And Dublin could have scored more. Dean Rock blazed a penalty over the bar in the 59th minute while Brian Fenton had a shot well saved by Brendan Kealy.
Bryan Sheehan had Kerry’s last point with eight minutes left to bring Kerry to within two points of Kerry but the league titles holders scored two points in quick response and then sealed victory when Kealy’s short kick out was intercepted by Paul Flynn who buried the ball in the net. Ciara Kilkenny was declared man of the match and Bernard Brogan finished with four points from play, outplaying Marc O Se. Dublin won without being spectacular, doing enough, and Kerry have much to reflect on ahead of the championship.
They will feel they had a chance of extending Dublin, however, but for the O’Mahony dismissal. The sides were level six times in a first half which kept the crowd engaged, and featured some top-drawer scores, without reaching the intensity the large crowd might have hoped for. Dublin started with Rock instead of the listed Paddy Andrews and he had the opening score after two minutes. For much of the half the lead traded hands. Stephen O’Brien got Kerry off the mark with a point to tie the team for the first time in the sixth minute.
Kerry, winning more ball around the middle of the field than they managed in the All-Ireland final, had two points from O’Brien, and one delightful score from Colm Cooper, who in a reverse of the famous cameo in the All-Ireland final, raised a loud cheer when he sold Philly McMahon a dummy and scored into the Hill end.
Cooper looked sharp and eager to atone for last year’s damage to his reputation and while Kerry never really threatened to score a goal in the first half they were Dublin’s match for most of it and gained a solid foothold. Near the interval Dublin hit a subtle gear-change and moved three points clear, Sheehan’s late free reducing that differential before the short whistle.
Brogan gave Marc O Se a hard time, with three first-half scores, in one instance out fielding the Kerry man and turning neatly to score. That put Dublin two clear for the first time seven minutes from the interval and completed three points in a row from the title holders. Brogan had the first of those after a sweeping move down the field and Fenton fisted one over the bar, after brushing past David Moran.
Brogan’s last score of the half came from an excellent pinpoint delivery by Flynn, quick thinking from a Dublin free on the Fingallians player’s part that caught Kerry by surprise.
Kerry defended well in the main and prevented Dublin from over-running them or creating goal chances. Kilkenny scored two points from play, carrying on the form he has shown throughout the league, while Peter Crowley also got up the field to score one of Kerry’s first half points, matched by Cooper at the other end.
Kerry moved Kieran Dinghy to full forward in the second half but couldn’t work a goal scoring opportunity.
Scorers: Dublin - D Rock 0-5 (0-3 fs; 0-1 pen), B Brogan 0-4, P Flynn 1-0, C Kilkenny, K McManamon 0-2, D Connolly, P Mannion, J Cooper, B Fenton, C Costello 0-1. Kerry - B Sheehan 0-3 (0-3 fs), S O’Brien, P Crowley, D O’Sullivan 0-2, C Cooper, D Walsh, K Donaghy, P Murphy 0-1.
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, J Cooper, D Byrne; J McCarthy, C O’Sulivan, J Small; D Bastick B Fenton; P Flynn, D Rock, C Kilkenny; P Mannion, D Connolly, B Brogan.
Subs: MD Macauley for Bastic (48 mins); K McManamon for Connolly (54); C Costello for Rock (60); M Fitzsimons for McMahon (62); E Lowndes for Mannion (68); D Daly for Small (69).
Kerry: B Kealy; M O Se, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O’Mahony, F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy, D Moran; B Sheehan, P Murphy, D Walsh; D O’Sullivan, C Cooper, S O’Brien.
Subs: K Young for Fitzgerald (45 mins); B O’Sullivan for Walsh (54); J Lyne for Griffin (60); BJ Keane for O’Brien (62); P O’Connor for Crowley (63); M Geaney for Murphy (69).
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).