Dubs maintain their mastery
Dublin 2-14 Kerry 0-14
This age-old rivalry has twisted in Dublin's favour in recent years and continues in that vein. After the rains of last September, a re-enactment on a cold night in late January carried little promise of deviation.
So it proved. Heading into last night's opening-round tie Dublin had won four of their last six league meetings, and three in succession in the championship. Their team selection, one that would not have looked out of place in high summer, signalled the earnestness of their intentions to maintain that mastery of the fixture.
They didn't look too stimulated for long periods though, even if Kerry lived dangerously at times and needed one good save from Brendan Kealy and heroic defending from David Moran to keep their goal intact in the opening half, which ended level at 0-7 apiece. Kerry, trailing 0-1 to 0-5 at one stage, and not carrying the same attacking threat, went in at the interval the chirpier of the two. Their mood didn't say upbeat for much longer and from there Dublin asserted themselves and could have won by more.
In mitigation, Kerry were notably understrength, Colm Cooper and James O'Donoghue among the absentees, and it showed. They began with Tommy Walsh in the middle of the field and Darran O'Sullivan at full-forward, but before the first half had expired there were changes in a bid to ignite their spluttering forward division. Walsh moved into full-forward and caused some problems for Michael Fitzsimons who was conceding a major height advantage.
At one point Walsh won a ball from Darran O'Sullivan and laid off to Barry John Keane but his shot for goal hit a Dublin defender and the ball was cleared. At the other end Dean Rock should have goaled when set up by Paul Mannion, very impressive on his return to the team after a year away.
Mannion gave the Kerry debutant, Brian ó Beaglaoich a lot of problems, even though the youngster, an All-Ireland minor winner in 2014, still showed signs that he will be a fine player in time.
Dublin should have been clear at the halfway mark but Rock was off target from a free within his range and also missed a '45, while Tomás Brady had a shot for goal go narrowly wide, though bottled up by the Kerry defence after being set up by Mannion. Johnny Buckley played in the middle of the field where Kerry were overpowered last September and he and Moran kicked two of the better points of the first half.
At the back Dublin were not in serious difficulty. Fitzsimons took over the position vacated by Rory O'Carroll and started on O'Sullivan, who was one of Kerry's most industrious players and full of invention, ending with three points. Philly McMahon was suspended and Cian O'Sullivan played centre-back, with James McCarthy used in midfield. Diarmuid Connolly failed to register a score in the first half, when marked by Paul Murphy, with Mannion and Paddy Andrews, their star player, looking the most threatening in an attack missing Bernard Brogan. Andrews sealed his claim on player of the evening soon after the half-time break.
He kicked the first point and in the 42nd minute fielded Connolly's floating ball from the wing over Shane Enright, turned inside and finished past Kealy for the game's first goal. He topped that off with his fourth point from play five minutes later, turning on to his left when he right side was blocked off and nailing another score.
Andrews' goal put some daylight between the sides and it was stretched to eight points when Dublin scored their second goal in the 51st minute. Connolly finished expertly past Kealy from the penalty spot, after McCarthy had been fouled by ó Beaglaoich. Darran O'Sullivan picked off some tidy scores but the challenge for a half-strength Kerry team was too steep to expect anything other than an extension of Dublin's recent rule.
With six minutes left Tommy Walsh was hauled ashore, his influence having waned and Kerry six points adrift. It could have been worse. Five minutes from time John Small broke through and struck a powerful shot off the underside of the crossbar. Jack McCaffrey also tested the woodwork with another screamer. With time almost up Kerry lost their second player to a black card, Enright, following in the footsteps of Donnchadh Walsh, having used their quota of substitutes.
Scorers - Dublin: D Rock 0-7 (4fs), P Andrews 1-4, D Connolly 1-0 (pen), P Mannion, T Brady, C Costello 0-1 each.
Kerry: BJ Keane 0-4 (4fs), D O'Sullivan 0-3, D Moran 0-2, S O'Brien, J Buckley, D Walsh, T Walsh, B O'Sullivan 0-1.
Dublin: S Cluxton; J Cooper, M Fitzsimons, David Byrne; J Small, C O'Sullivan, Davy Byrne; J McCarthy, D Bastick; T Brady, D Connolly, C Kilkenny; P Andrews, D Rock, P Mannion.
Subs: Jack McCaffrey for Davy Byrne (40 mins); E ó Conghaile for Bastick (49); C Costello for Brady (52); C Reddin for Kilkenny (57); D Daly for O'Sullivan (61); C O'Callaghan for Mannion (67).
Kerry: B Kealy; Brian Ó Beaglaoich, M Griffin, S Enright; P Murphy, K Young, F Fitzgerald; D Moran, T Walsh; P O'Connor, J Buckley, D Walsh; BJ Keane, D O'Sullivan, S O'Brien.
Subs: P Kilkenny for Griffin (40 mins); J Lyne for D Walsh (45 black card); B O'Sullivan for Buckley & P O'Connor for Fitzgerald (both 52); G O'Grady for Keane (57); C Cox for T Walsh (64).
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)
Sunday Indo Sport