Dublin maintain unbeaten run with enthralling draw in Kerry
Kerry 0-13 Dublin 0-13
Not for the first time in their sequence of league and championship games without a loss that now stands at 34, equalling Kerry's 84-year old record, this Dublin team show nerves of steel and character to extract themselves from a perilous situation.
It has become a badge of honour for them to rescue themselves in such fashion as they did in Tralee with a third draw of the campaign, late points from Dean Rock (free) and Paul Mannion, who exploited a stray Kerry pass out of defence at the end, stealing the home side's thunder.
It was a magnificent contest in a cracking Austin Stack atmosphere before 11,858 spectators, helter-skelter stuff as these great rivals jostled for supremacy throughout the second half after going in level, 0-5 each at the break.
First Kerry had a spell to lead by four points, then Dublin came back to lead by two before Kerry surged two clear again with the finish line in sight, leaving the record just as vulnerable as it had been against Tyrone five weeks earlier.
Dublin may not publicly pay much attention to their two-year old unbeaten record but the manner in which they chased it down belied that image, further embellishing their status as champions.
It was tight, tense, edgy and fractious throughout the first half by the end of which referee Sean Hurson had seven yellows dished out, four to Kerry players.
Stephen Cluxton and Paul Geaney were among the seven for their involvement in a 22nd minute altercation in the Dublin goalmouth as Kerry developed through the middle.
Players grappled, some were thrown to the ground, surely meriting black cards.
Kerry held the edge throughout that opening half but scores were slow to come as defences remained on top.
Peter Crowley and Geaney, with a superb curling effort off his left foot, had the home side two points ahead by the 10th minute.
Rock got a point back but there were small signs that Dublin were unsettled and not playing with the usual fluency, Rock having to hand up a free for delaying too long over it being a prime example.
Kerry were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead by the 28th minute with the superb David Moran and Jack Barry gaining the upper hand over the Brian Fenton-Michael Darragh Macauley axis that did so much damage against Mayo.
But Kerry coughed up three needless frees for fouls on Shane B Carthy and David Byrne that Rock punished to give the visitors the lead for the first time as half-time approached.
Kerry weren't finished however and Barry punched through the cover to give Geaney some space but his shot was pushed for a point and Kerry went in level, 0-5 each, to a rousing reception from the home crowd, the perfect illustration of how the balance has shifted when parity against Dublin was being appreciated so vocally.
There were gilt-edged goal chances at both ends in the second half. Cian O'Sullivan, on as a half-time substitute for his first appearance of the season, went low to block another substitute Stephen O'Brien as he zoned in on goal before Geaney squeezed over a point on 40 minutes.
Kerry stretched their lead to four points by the 43rd minute when the imperious Geaney stroked over again with O'Brien the supplier.
But then it was Dublin's turn for dominance and they squeezed impressively with Paul Flynn, Eoghan O'Gara and Kevin McManamon all making big impacts off the bench.
They held the home side scoreless for 19 minutes and piled in with six themselves to take a two-point lead. Against a stiffening wind, and in such a hostile atmosphere, it was quite a show of composure from the champions.
In the midst of that run Conor McHugh and Brian Fenton both had shots blocked on the line and in the ensuing scramble, Kerry cleared.
But just when it looked like they would press on and win with a bit in hand, Kerry struck back with points from Geaney (two frees), Crowley again, and Donnchadh Walsh before that late Dublin revival during which Ciaran Kilkenny picked up a second yellow card and was dismissed.
Scorers - Kerry: P Geaney 0-7 4fs, P Crowley, D Moran, B Kealy (45), BJ Keane, K McCarthy D Walsh all 0-1 each
Dublin - D Rock 0-9 (9fs), C McHugh 0-2, E O'Gara, P Mannion 0-1 each.
Kerry: B Kealy; M Griffin, S Enright, R Shanahan; P Crowley, T Morley, K Young; D Moran, J Barry; A Spillane, P Murphy, D Walsh; J Savage, P Geaney, K McCarthy. Subs: J Lyne for Enright inj (16), S O'Brien for Savage (h-t) BJ Keane for Spillane (52), A Maher for Barry (54), D O'Sullivan for McCarthy (61), M Geaney for Young inj (61)
Dublin: S Cluxton; D Daly, P McMahon, M Fitzsimons; J Small, D Byrne, E Lowndes; B Fenton, MD Macauley; N Scully, C Kilkenny, SB Carthy; D Rock, P Andrews, C McHugh. Subs: C O'Sullivan for Byrne (h-t), P Flynn for Scully (41), K McManamon for Macauley (44), E O'Gara for Andrews (46), P Mannion for Small inj (48), B Brogan for McHugh (69)
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)