Three-in-a-row for Dublin U-21s as they see off Kildare in titanic tussle
Published 02/04/2016 | 16:28
Dublin delivered their first-ever Leinster U-21 football three-in-a-row when they came from seven points down at one stage to beat Kildare after extra-time in Navan.
A cracking final saw Kildare, through Mark Sherry, spurn a great chance to win at the end of normal time.
In extra-time Dublin just had to much composure for a Kildare team that ran themselves far too often into trouble.
A goal from Cillian O'Shea, who had come back on after being taken off injured in the opening minutes, made all the difference just before the end of the first period of extra-time to give the champions a 2-12 to 0-16 lead.
A further Con O'Callaghan free gave Dublin a three-point advantage at half-time in extra-time and Kildare could find no more after that.
Kildare enjoyed a great start and were buoyed on by the prolific skill of Ben McCormack who scored five magnificent points from five shots, none of them from easy positions.
Neil Flynn also chipped in with a couple of points from play and long range scores off the ground as they showed real economy.
In contrast O'Callaghan had a shaky start, missing two close range frees.
At one stage Kildare were coasting, 0-9 to 0-2 after 25 minutes, with their more physical approach really causing Dublin some problems.
Powered on by Pascal Connell and Con Cavanagh through the middle, they got a firm foothold.
An injury to Cillian O'Shea after a heavy early challenge from Paul mescal paved the way for one of Ballyboden's All-Ireland club final stars Shane Clayton's introduction but even he had trouble quelling McCormack's influence at first.
Dublin were always dangerous though, especially Colm Basquel and O'Callaghan, and it was O'Callaghan's strike for a goal on 26 minutes after Chris Sallier's run had won an advantage that stemmed the tide, closing the gap to 0-9 to 1-2.
He might have had another deep into the six minute of injury time that was added but, not for the first time in the half, Kildare goalkeeper Declan Campbell was equal to it.
Kildare's 0-10 to 1-5 interval lead, established after they had played with a slight wind advantage, looked vulnerable.
Dublin started the second half well with Andrew Foley and O'Callaghan points and O'Callaghan continued to pierce the Kildare defence impressively,.
But at the other end, as Clayton got to grips with McCormack, Flynn really stepped up with some impressive scores.
One of his frees edged Kildare 0-12 to 1-7 ahead on 37 minutes but Dublin kicked ahead for the first time on 49 minutes when Glen O'Reilly was put by O'Callaghan and Martin Cahilan stretched it to two.
But credit to Kildare they battled hard through Mescal, Cavanagh, Ryan Houlihan and Luke Flynn and re-established a platform with Flynn scoring a point from play and a long range free to level it, 1-11 to 0-14.
Both sides had chances to win it but none more gilt-edged than Kildare Mark Sherry who blazed wide in the fourth minute of injury-time from close range.
Neil Flynn finished with a personal tally of 0-10, mirroring his performance in defeat to the same opposition at the same venue last year.
O'Callaghan was Dublin's key player but Brian Howard, Clayton, Killian Deeley and Sean McMahon also played key roles.
Scorers - Dublin: C O'Callaghan 1-7 (0-5fs), C O'Shea 1-0, G O'Reilly 0-2, C Sallier, A Foley, B Howard, C Basquel, M Cahilan 0-1 each.
Kildare: N Flynn 0-10 (5fs 0-1 45), B McCormack 0-5, C Healy, P Connell 0-1 each
Dublin: L Molloy; E Smith, S McMahon, D Monaghan; C O'Shea, B Howard, M Cahilan; A Foley, D Mcilghorm; K Deeley, C Basquel, G O'Reilly; C Sallier, C O'Callaghan, D Spillane. Subs: S Clayton for O'Shea inj (4), A Elliott for McIlghorm (14), K O'Doherty for Foley blood (25-29), E Murchan for Monaghan (ht), P Small for Spillane (ht), M Deegan for Elliott (46), C O'Shea for Sallier (start of extra-time), K Doherty for O'Reilly (68), D Spillane for Murchan (75), T O'Sullivan for Smith (79).
Kildare: D Campbell; E Bateman, D Maguire, P Mescal; R Houlihan, B Byrne, S Ryan; L Flynn, P Connell; C Hartley, C Cavanagh, C McMonagle; B McCormack, C Healy, N Flynn. Subs: M Hyland for Byrne (7), R Feely for Hartley (38), M Sherry for McMonagle (42), C Scanlon for Healy (53), B Kelly for Scanlon (start of extra-time), C Scanlon for McCormack (68), D Malone for Maguire (75), C Healy for Feely (79).
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).