Kerry and Dublin can't be separated in AFL, Round 1
Courtesy of GAA.ie
Allianz Football League Division 1
By John Harrington at Croke Park
It feels like these two teams are destined to give us a rivalry for the ages.
This match didn’t have the suffocating intensity of last year’s drawn and replayed All-Ireland Finals, but it was still a lot more full-blooded than might have been expected from a Round 1 League match between two teams not long back from long-haul holidays.
Neither team spared one another when it came to the physical stakes, and some of the scores taken were of the highest calibre too.
There was even a dramatic denouement as Kerry snatched an equaliser seven minutes into injury-time when David Clifford held his nerve to land a last-gasp free won by substitute Micheal Burns.
Some wondered would the responsibility of being given the Kerry captaincy on the same week he turned 21 weigh heavily on his young shoulders. Clearly not.
The Dublin supporters in Croke Park weren’t best pleased Kerry were given time for one last attack, but a draw was the fairest result, all things considered.
Both teams had dominant spells at different stages, and Dublin were the quicker team to find their rhythm in the early running.
From the get-go Brian Fenton gave them a platform in the middle third and much of the play flowed towards Kerry’s goalposts.
By the 15th minute they were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead, with their points coming from five different scorers.
The pick of the bunch was a sweet left-footed effort on the run by Conor McHugh, who was a late addition to the Dublin team in place of Paul Mannion.
McHugh has been knocking around the Dublin panel for a while now without getting an extended run in the first XV.
Dessie Farrell knows him better than most because they’re Na Fianna club-mates, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he’ll feature during this League campaign more than he has in the past.
Just when you were wondering was this match going to be a tad more one-sided than might have been expected, Kerry started to find a groove.
That was thanks mainly to the electric double-act of James O’Donoghue and David Clifford who were giving their supporters jolts of excitement whenever they got on the ball.
O’Donoghue landed a beauty of a left-footed point from wide on the right before Clifford brought the teams level with an absolutely sublime goal.
Cutting in from the left-side, he held off David Byrne with a strong hand, steadied himself with an agile left-footed solo, and then drove the ball low to the net with the same boot.
But if Clifford and O’Donoghue were thrilling at one end of the pitch, Brian Fenton was doing the very same at the other end.
Kerry couldn’t contain him no matter how they detailed to mark him. At first it was Adrian Spillane before an injury forced him off early, and when Sean O’Shea was switched onto him he fared no better.
Fenton hit four points in the first half alone, and there was almost an imperious swagger about all of them. At times it was like watching an U-14 playing against a gaggle of U-12s.
Another O’Donoghue point had pushed Kerry one ahead before Dublin struck the front again when Dean Rock won and converted a penalty after he was felled by a rash Brian Ó Beaglaoich tackle.
It was entertaining, end to end action, from there to the half-time whistle as both teams attacked with pace whenever they had the ball.
Kerry were marginally having the better of it now, but, typically, it was Fenton who had the last say of the half when another fine point gave his team a 1-10 to 1-9 lead at the break.
Dublin’s Eric Lowndes had been sin-binned just before half-time, and Kerry made the most of their 10-minute numerical advantage after the break.
An emboldened Paul Murphy drove forward from his sweeper position to kick two really impressive points in quick succession, and then lively substitute Liam Kearney landed another nice score to push Kerry two ahead.
Kerry were really building momentum now and it looked like the balance of power had shifted decisively in their favour when Dublin were reduced to 14 men on 56 minutes.
Erick Lowndes was yellow-carded for an attempted tackle on Stephen O’Brien and because he’d already bene black-carded in the match, yellow was immediately followed by red.
Sean O’Shea landed the subsequent free and then another to give Kerry a three-point lead by the 60th minute.
They looked likely winners at that stage, but the black-carding of Graham O’Sullivan on 62 minutes ultimately proved very costly.
In the ten minutes he was off the field Dublin outscored Kerry by six points to two to take the lead once more, 1-18 to 1-17.
Ciaran Kilkenny was a very influential figure during this period, landing two points, one from a mark.
Shortly after O’Sullivan returned to the fray Kerry drew level when Paul Geaney kicked a free, but it looked like Dublin had found the winner deep into injury-time when Kilkenny came up trumps again.
After a long period of patient possession, Kilkenny went for the jugular and was hauled down for a free that Rock converted.
There was just enough time for one more Kerry attack, though, and for Clifford to prove his mettle.
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-6 (1 pen, 0-6f), Brian Fenton 0-4, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-4 (1 mark), Conor McHugh 0-2 (1 mark), James McCarthy 0-1, Niall Scully 0-1, Kevin McManamon 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford 1-3 (2f), Sean O’Shea 0-5 (5f), James O’Donoghue 0-3, Paul Murphy 0-2, Gavin O’Brien 0-1, Paul Geaney 0-1 (1f), Stephen O’Brien 0-1, Killian Spillane 0-1 (1 mark), Liam Kearney 0-1, Gavin Crowley 0-1.
DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Eric Lowndes, David Byrne, Philip McMahon; James McCarthy, John Small, Eoin Murchan; Brian Fenton, Brian Howard; Niall Scully, Conor McHugh, Ciarán Kilkenny; Kevin McManamon, Paddy Andrews, Dean Rock. Subs: Paul Mannion for Paddy Andrews (43), Sean Bugler for Kevin McManamon (53), Aaron Byrne for Conor McHugh (55), Rory O’Carroll for Philip McMahon (65), Dan O’Brien for Sean Bugler (77)
Sin Bin: Eric Lowndes,
KERRY: Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Shane Enright; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Brian Ó Beaglaoich; Tommy Walsh, Adrian Spillane; Gavin O’Brien, Sean O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien; James O’Donoghue, David Clifford, Paul Geaney. Subs: Liam Kearney for Adrian Spillane (16), Graham O’Sullivan for Brian Ó Beaglaoich (33), Killian Spillane for James O’Donoghue (51), Micheal Burns for Tommy Walsh (58), Dara Moynihan for Gavin O’Brien
Sin Bin: Graham O’Sullivan
Ref: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)