Monday 26 February 2018

Donaghy leaves Dubs in trouble

Dublin 1-15 Kerry 1-15

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THERE was a pep in Dublin's step as they left Parnell Park yesterday after becoming the first side to take anything from Kerry in this year's League, but it still wasn't enough to prevent the Blues from dropping into the second relegation slot ahead of the doomed Westmeath.

Kerry were already through to the League final before yesterday's game but with Donegal, Mayo and Tyrone all winning, Dublin find themselves in seventh place on the Division 1 table with one game (against Westmeath) remaining. A win may not be enough to save Dublin from the drop but manager, Pat Gilroy, is selling the clear message that the journey is more important than the destination in this League campaign.

"I was very happy with the way we played today. The lads worked very hard and took some fine scores. It wasn't quite championship pace, but it was close enough. That's the sort of game you need to get ready for the championship," he said.


Dublin certainly had some solid reasons for regarding this as a move in the right direction but there were downsides too, including the surrender of a big lead and a high concession rate. They led by 1-14 to 0-11 after 55 minutes, but were out-scored by 1-4 to 0-1 from there on.

Kerry's revival was based on the significant impact of subs Micheal Quirke and Anthony Maher who greatly increased their ball-winning capacity around midfield while the forward surges by half-backs, Tomas O Se, Aidan O'Mahony and Tommy Griffin were also central to the revival.

It was O'Mahony who pounced for Kerry's goal in the 66th minute after the ball broke his way from a route one attack. "It was disappointing to concede that goal because we had defended the high ball well all day," said Gilroy.

That was indeed the case as the Dublin full-back line stood up extremely well against Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy. Darren Magee and Ross McConnell did well around midfield for a long time, while in attack Mark Davoren and Paddy Andrews caused lots of problems for the Kerry defence.

Full-forward Davoren was the day's class act, scoring 1-3 from play as he took the excellent form he had produced with Kilmacud Crokes onto a much higher level. He showed well for the ball, won possession cleanly and finished expertly in a display where he put in a serious application for permanent retention of the No 14 jersey.

"He's being doing that with Kilmacud and we were hoping he could do the same with us," said Gilroy who was also pleased with the side's overall workrate. It drew praise from their rivals too, with Tomas O Se admitting that Dublin were the first team this year to match Kerry on the physical front.

"Their forwards tackled very hard today and made it very difficult for us to break out. They certainly put it up to us physically, it was a bit of a wake-up call so we'll have to go away and do a bit of work on that," he said.

Kerry's defensive alignment was disrupted when they lost full-backs, Aidan O'Shea and Padraig Reidy, to injury in the first half while their attempts to play long balls into Donaghy at the other end didn't come off and often allowed Dublin to begin moves from deep inside their own territory.

With a place in the final secured, Kerry's motivation levels were always likely to be lower than Dublin's and it showed for long periods. Dublin led by 0-9 to 0-7 at half-time and fell further behind when Kilmacud team-mates, Davoren and Pat Burke, added 1-1 just after half-time.

Kerry retaliated with some points of their own but a three-point burst from Henry, Connolly and Andrews seemed to have set Dublin in line for a win. Even if the final place had been secured, Kerry weren't going to allow Dublin to gain any psychological edge for a possible re-match later in the year and powered up through the gears late on.

"Maybe the fact that we had already qualified for the final had an impact on us, but we got really motivated when we fell behind by six points. We never like being beaten by the Dubs," said Kerry manager, Jack O'Connor. O'Mahony's goal, followed by Donaghy's point, brought the teams level before both sides had a late chance to win it but Alan Brogan's shot hit the post while Sean O'Sullivan's drive veered wide at the other end.

Kerry now have the luxury of having reached the final ahead of their last game against Galway, a scenario which allows them to re-focus their training regime. "We need to get a bit of heavy training done in the next few weeks so this will give us a chance," said O'Connor.

It's a happy position to be in as Kerry head into April with an unbeaten run behind them. In contrast, Dublin have won only one of six games, but clearly believe that the campaign is achieving its objective in priming them for the championship. Only time will tell if indeed that's the case.

They mixed the good with the bad again but judging by Gilroy's post-match demeanour, he appears convinced that there's a balance emerging which will have things right for the summer.

Scorers -- Dublin: M Davoren 1-3; D Connolly 0-4 (3f); P Andrews, R McConnell, C Keaney (2f) 0-2 each; P Burke, D Henry 0-1 each. Kerry: A O'Mahony 1-0; C Cooper 0-3 (1f); T Walsh, D Moran, Darren O'Sullivan, B Sheehan (1f) 0-2 each; T O Se, P Galvin, S O'Sullivan (1f), K Donaghy 0-1 each.

Dublin -- S Cluxton; D Henry, D Bastic, A Hubbard; B Cullen, P Griffin, G Brennan; D Magee, R McConnell; P Flynn, K Bonner, D Connolly; C Keaney, M Davoren, P Andrews. Subs: P Burke for Bonner (12), A Brogan for McConnell (57), S Ryan for Flynn (61), D Lally for Connolly (65), R O'Carroll for Henry (68).

Kerry -- D Murphy; P Reidy, A O'Shea, T O'Sullivan; T O Se, A O'Mahony, T Griffin; S Scanlon, K Donaghy; P Galvin, D Moran, Darren O'Sullivan; C Cooper, T Walsh, B Sheehan. Subs: D Bohan for O'Shea (20), K Quirke for Reidy (34), A Maher for Sheehan (ht), M Quirke for Scanlon (41), S O'Sullivan for Moran (48), K O'Leary for D O'Sullivan (65).

REF -- P McEnaney (Monaghan).

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