Wednesday 18 September 2019

Play it again Sam: Dublin and Kerry must do it all again after enthralling All-Ireland final draw

Dublin 1-16 Kerry 1-16

Killian Spillane of Kerry is tackled by Niall Scully
Killian Spillane of Kerry is tackled by Niall Scully

Sean McGoldrick

An All-Ireland final for the ages failed to produce a winner at Croke Park. Dublin's dream of a historic five titles in a row remains alive, but only just.

Reduced to 14 men before half time when Johnny Cooper was dismissed after he picked up a second yellow card for fouling David Clifford, Dublin were forced to rely on all their survival instincts in the second half.

They were outscored 1-8 to 0-7 points and fell behind in the 66th minute for the first time after super-subs Killian Spillane, who had scored a crucial goal in the 56th minute, hit a super point.

But their nerves deserted them when it was needed most and they failed to add to their tally in the remaining 11 minutes of play – there were just over seven minutes of injury-time played.

Dean Rock – who tied with Sean O'Shea at the game's top scorer with a 0-10 contribution – finally kicked the equaliser in the fourth minute of injury-time and they could have snatched it at the death but Rock's free from the Cusack Stand sideline drifted wide on the near side.

Only four Dublin players got on the score sheet but Jack McCaffrey - who had three different markers - hit 1-3 which proved crucial.

The Kerry bench contributed 1-1 with Tommy Walsh's introduction a game-changer just when it seemed that Dublin, who were leading by five points at the time, would pull away.

The GAA were the big winners with a €3m bonanza for the replay – although it is likely they will reduce ticket prices for the game which is scheduled for Saturday, September 14 at 6pm.

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As expected Kerry did not line out as selected. Despite having only started one championship game this season – he played for 53 minutes against Cork in the Munster final – Jack Barry was drafted into the side replacing Killian Spillane.

This was the 30th championship clash between the sides and their fifteenth in a final. Stephen Cluxton won the toss and opted to play into the Hill 16 end in the first half.

Dublin won the throw-in and Paul Mannion opened their account after 18 seconds but Kerry's tactic by isolating Paul Geaney and in particular David Clifford was paying rich dividends with Johnny Cooper struggling to cope with the latter.

Although they fell 1-3 behind after four minutes, Kerry looked more potent up front and created three goal-scoring chances in the first 15 minutes but crucially failed to avail of any of them.

James McCarthy rescued Dublin in the sixth minute when he was perfectly positioned to block a shot from Geaney on the line.

But from a Kerry perspective the worst miss came in the 12th minute when Geaney hoofed a high ball in the direction of Clifford, who was isolated on Cooper, and the referee rightly adjudged that the defender had fouled while the ball was in the air and pointed to the penalty spot.

Geaney took a particularly short run-up to his kick was brilliantly saved at the expense of a 45 by Stephen Cluxtonm which the ever-accurate Sean O'Shea converted.

By now Kerry were imposing a full court press on Cluxton's kick-outs and Jack Barry – who tamed Brian Fenton in the first half – won two on the spin and Stephen O'Brien had a goal chance but his shot blazed over the bar.

Kerry, however, were guilty of missing chances as well with Geaney and David Moran hitting wides and Brian Howard, who at times had acted as the Dublin sweeper in the first half, won a crucial re-start from Cluxton and set up Paul Mannion for the equalising point after 16 minutes to leave the sides level 0-4 each.

Another foul by Cooper on Clifford – which earned him a yellow card – saw Kerry retain the lead when O'Shea converted the free but the game turned on the next kick-out from Cluxton. Again he went long down the Hogan Stand side and Howard again won it before combining with Niall Scully who put Jack McCaffrey through and the wing back made no mistake from close range.

It was now Dublin's turn to enact the full court on Shane Ryan's re-starts and it was Dean Rock who was emerging as their most influential player up front. As well as his accuracy from frees – he kicked three in the first-half as well as a 45 – and also fetched one of Cluxton's long kick-outs which ultimately led to Con O'Callaghan's only point from play in the first half.

Twice Dublin stretched their lead to four points but O'Shea's continuing accuracy from placed balls – he was the game's leading scorer in the first-half with five placed balls – kept Kerry in touch.

Dublin went five points clear for the first time after a Michael Darragh Macauley assist to Con O'Callaghan led to the Cuala man being fouled and Rock popped over the free.

But the final took a second decisive turn 38 seconds into added time at the end of the half. Cooper and Clifford raced for a loose ball and the Kerry man ended up on the ground and referee David Gough deciding that the Fossa man had been illegally pulled down by Cooper, who loudly protested his innocence.

However, the referee flashed a yellow card at the Na Fianna man and Dublin were down to 14 men, though they held a four-point lead at the break (1-9; 0-8).

Brian Howard switched to wing-back at the start of the second half with Mick Fitzsimons handed the job of policing Clifford.

Kerry, not surprisingly, played with a pep in their step and were denied a goal in the 40th minute when Cluxton got his finger tips to a rasping shot from Kerry's 'free' man Paul Murphy to deflect it off the crossbar for a 45 which O'Shea converted.

The lead was now down to two points and Hill 16 had fell silent. A fisted point from Jack McCaffrey lifted the siege momentarily before Stephen O'Brien went on the hunt for a goal at the other end but a combination of McCaffrey and Fitzsimons denied him, though there was a hint that O'Brien was fouled.

By the 50th minute Dublin's most influential player, McCaffrey, had scored 1-2 from play and was on his third marker after Adrian Spillane and Gavin White – who were both replaced – had failed to tame him.

Kerry were decidedly fortunate not to have specialist man-marker Tom O'Sullivan dismissed on a second yellow card in the 51st minute after he pulled down John Small, having been booked moments earlier for a foul on O'Callaghan.

McCaffrey's third point from play in the 55th minute put Dublin five points clear (1-14; 0-12) and seemingly on the road to victory. But this was a game that kept giving and in his first meaningful contribution, Tommy Walsh set up another substitute, Killian Spillane, who buried the ball in the Dublin net.

Walsh missed a decent chance to make it a one-point game immediately afterwards after Kerry won a Cluxton re-start but he made amends immediately by kicking a crucial point to leave it a one-point game (1-14; 1-13) with just over ten minutes remaining.

The tension was close to unbearable as David Moran bullied Niall Scully before getting his kick away which Walsh fielded before combining with O'Shea to kick the equalising point.

Clifford was short from long range with the Kingdom's next effort and Dublin eventually worked the ball up-field. Killian Spillane tripped Paddy Small and Dean Rock nailed the free.

But it was Kerry who were dominating at this stage and after Sean O'Shea kicked the equaliser, David Moran rose brilliantly to fetch Cluxton's restart and combined with Spillane who pointed brilliantly to give Kerry the lead for the first time.

Substitutes Cormac Costello – after consultation with hawkeye the umpire originally signalled a point - and Diarmuid Connolly missed long-range chances to equalise before, in the fourth minute of the seven minutes of extra time, Dean Rock levelled an enthralling match.

Dublin monopolised possession when it mattered most and every Kerry player retreated back into their own defence. At the death Dublin had a chance to win it when Sean O'Shea fouled Paddy Small alongside the Cusack Park sideline.

But Dean Rock's kick drifted wide and the sides will have to meet again on Saturday week to decide the destination of the 2019 All-Ireland championship. That match will have a new referee, as the same officials can't be in charge for the replay.

Scorers: Dublin: D Rock 0-10, (6f, 1 45), J McCaffrey 1-3, P Mannion 0-2 C O'Callaghan 0-1.

Kerry: S O'Shea 0-10 (4f, 3 45), K Spillane 1-1, D Clifford 0-2, T Walsh, G Crowley 0-1

Dublin: S Cluxton; D Byrne, J Cooper, M Fitzsimons; J McCaffrey, J McCarthy, J Small; B Fenton, MD Macauley; N Scully, C Kilkenny, B Howard; C O'Callaghan, D Rock, P Mannion. Subs: P Small for Macauley (52), D Connolly for Howard (68), C Costello for Mannion (67), K McManamon for Scully 70 +1m

Kerry: S Ryan; J Foley, T Morley, T O'Sullivan; P Murphy, G Crowley, B O Beaglaoich; D Moran, J Barry; G White, S O'Shea, A Spillane, D Clifford, P Geaney, S O'Brien. Subs: K Spillane for A Spillane (45), J Sherwood for White (49), T Walsh for O'Beaglaoich (52), J Lyne for Crowley (69), D Moynihan for Barry (70 +3), M Griffith for O'Brien (70 +3)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

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