Sunday 21 July 2019

More to come as Dubs win at a canter

The Championship: Dublin 0-26 Kildare 0-11

Rory Kerr at Croke Park

If one was to ask for a redacted version of Sunday's game and that being commissioned by the Kildare team management/county board, it would probably be this.

Up until the 45th minute Dublin led only by two scores, with the Kildare forwards causing the Dublin defence a good deal of trouble.

The problem being with that is Kildare lacked the killer instinct to deliver a goal that might have put a different complexion on things..

It was the 2017 final revisited, when Kildare failed to convert a one-on-one with Stephen Cluxton which would have brought them back into the game.

And Cluxton, making his 100th championship appearance at Croke Park at the weekend, was not going to allow Kildare to deny him a clean sheet (his 50th of an lllustrious career) on what was a momentous day for the Parnells clubman.

The Lillywhites will know they could have been more clinical on the day and on the day the game badly needed a goal, particularly in the final 20 minutes as it petered out.

Kildare were not short on effort, but their final goal chance of the game on 50 minutes was a case in point of their lack of a cutting edge.

Ben McCormack, who put in a decent shift, had had got goal-side of his marker, having cut in from the byeline in front of the Hill end.

However, he seemed to lose his nerve from there, and having run out of space the ball then fall to Keith Gribbin whose effort was diverted away by the alert Cluxton.

Eight points down at the time, Kildare's race was as good as run as Dublin, like a car stuck behind a tractor on a narrow country road, finally found the space to overtake and accelerate away.

And so Dublin march on to yet another provincial final, and the frightening thing for their opponents Meath is that while Dublin were never at their best they were still out of sight with a quarter of an hour to go.

Con O'Callaghan, their Young Player of the Year from 2017, probably didn't have the best of days at full forward but still ended up with three points.

Dublin had enough heavyweight forwards to inflict damage in any case, Paul Mannion being a case in point.

Cleared to play after his one-match suspension following his sending-off against Louth was overturned, the Kilmacud Crokes star turned in a massive shift.

His value to the team cannot be understated. Inside ten minutes he was tracking back to the half-way line to retrieve possession.

Up front he was on top of his game, his seven points making him Dublin's top scorer from play.

Cormac Costello might have gained that distinction but was denied once in each half.

That said, Dublin were not always at their best. Their shooting, particularly towards the end of the first half, was a bit off, while Kildare's defence had their moments and wing back Peter Kelly was uncompromising on the day.

What Kildare needed was that break up front, although one should credit Cian O'Neill's team for the manner in which they got back into the game .

Certainly it didn't look good early on, with Dublin opening up an early 0-5 to 0-1 lead before current Player of the Year Brian Fenton blazed over on eleven minutes following good link-up play by Niall Scully and Brian Howard.

And playing into their beloved hill, Dublin created their second goal chance moments later, but after Mark Donellan had smothered a close range effort from Costello, the Whitehall Colmcille man saw his subsequent effort pushed away for a 45 by an alert defender.

Costello made good with the subsequent 45, but Kildare's fortunes improved and by the 16th minute they had narrowed the gap to three points, 0-7 to 0-4, after Ben McCormack curled in a point off his left foot.

McCormack came close to adding to his tally shortly afterwards when played in by Adam Tyrell. But having powered past his marker, the full foward saw his left-footed shot saved by the alert Cluxton.

Moments later a push on Kildare's Kevin Feely in front of goal went unnoticed.

It would have handed Kildare a simple enough free at a time when they needed to keep the pressure on and Feely certainly let his frustrations known to the officials. To their credit, Kildare did not lose their discipline and by half-time were still well in the game, with Dublin's lead at 0-11 to 0-7.

But the exerts of their first-half display seemed to have taken their toll on them as Dublin posted the first three points of the half to open up a double-scores lead.

Still, points from Feely and Tyrrell meant that Kildare were just two scores short of Dublin's total with 22 minutes to go.

However, with points from Costello and O'Callaghan coming we were nearing Orange status in the game at a time when dark clouds had started to loom over GAA headquarters.

It would produce one last response from Kildare which Dublin ultimately repelled, and from there Dublin pulled away as the game entering a meaningless ten minutes, firing over points from all angles from Mannion, Costello, Paddy Small and the ever impressive Ciaran Kilkenny who looks set for another terrific year in the Dublin colours.

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; David Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, John Small, James McCarthy, Cian O'Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey, Brian Fenton 0-2, Michael Darragh McAuley, Niall Scully, Cormac Costello 0-9, (0-3fs, 0-1 45), Brian Howard 0-1, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-3, Con O'Callaghan 0-3, Paul Mannion 0-7. Subs: Paddy Small 0-1 for McAuley (52), Philly McMahon for O'Sullivan (52), Eoin Murchan for McCaffrey (62), Paddy Andrews for O'Callaghan (63), Rory O'Carroll for Fitzsimons (65).

Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O'Grady 0-1, David Hyland 0-1, Peter Kelly, Eoin Doyle, Keith Cribbin, Kevin Feely 0-1, Tommy Moolick, David Slattery, Chris Healy, Fergal Conway, Adam Tyrrell 0-4 (0-3f) Ben McCormack 0-3, Neil Flynn 0-1 0-1f. Subs: Kevin O'Callaghan for Flynn (28), Cian O'Donoghue for Moolick (56), Jimmy Hyland for Healy (58), Eoghan O'Flaherty for Cribbin (60), Conor Hartley for Slattery (66).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

Fingal Independent