All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final
Courtesy of GAA.ie
By Cian O’Connell at Croke Park
Tight and tense throughout, the 2023 All-Ireland SFC Final was decided by a daring Dublin burst in the closing stages.
Dessie Farrell’s outfit landed seven of the last nine points to ensure the Sam Maguire Cup returns to the capital.
James McCarthy, the proud Ballymun Kickhams clubman, climbed the Hogan Stand steps to lift the fabled trophy at the end of another absorbing battle with foes Kerry.
That Kerry, Dublin’s fiercely respected rivals, were beaten in the showpiece merely added to the sense of satisfaction for the victors.
Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimons, and McCarthy have now earned a record breaking nine All-Ireland SFC medals. In a glittering list of achievements this triumph over Kerry will be fondly remembered.
From the outset it was apparent that this encounter would go the distance. Intriguing duels were taking place in every sector with two diligent defensive units one of the chief talking points in a cagey opening period.
Fitzsimons was detailed with marking David Clifford. At the opposite end of the field Graham O’Sullivan was shadowing Ciarán Kilkenny, and Tadhg Morley faced with Con O’Callaghan. There was no shortage of sub-plots.
Dublin were ahead 0-6 to 0-4 on the cusp of half-time when David Clifford’s delicious pass crafted an opportunity for Paul Geaney.
The Dingle attacker planted a goal ensuring Jack O’Connor’s charges led 1-4 to 0-6 at the turnaround.
Initially Dublin edged 0-5 to 0-3 in front before a splendid Seán O’Shea effort narrowed the gap to the minimum.
An immaculate free from Stephen Cluxton had Dublin two clear, but Geaney’s goal altered the complexion significantly.
When the action recommenced Kerry enjoyed a productive third quarter, despite the concession of a deflected Paddy Small goal in the 46th minute.
That major had Dublin back on terms at 1-8 each, but points from Seán O’Shea (free) and two from the industrious Paudie Clifford had Kerry three in front again.
Under duress, Dublin responded. Paul Mannion was instrumental, clipping scores either side of a Colm Basquel effort to level with 14 minutes left on the clock.
Brian Fenton, a key contributor, guided Dublin ahead in the 64th minute. Kerry substitute Killian Spillane replied to restore parity.
Paddy Small edged Dublin in front once more, but Seán O’Shea levelled in additional time.
Unsurprisingly it was chaotic, but Dublin stayed the distance. Fittingly Mannion nudged over a critical score before David Clifford missed a chance for Kerry from an acute angle.
A last gasp free from substitute Dean Rock sealed the deal for Dublin.
Scorers for Dublin: Paul Mannion 0-5 (1f), Paddy Small 1-1, Brian Fenton, Colm Basquel, and Stephen Cluxton (1f, 145), Brian Howard, Cormac Costello (f), and Dean Rock (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: Seán O’Shea 0-5 (4fs), Paul Geaney 1-1, Paudie Clifford and David Clifford (1f) 0-3 each, Killian Spillane 0-1.
Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; David Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, Eoin Murchan; Brian Howard, John Small, Lee Gannon; James McCarthy, Brian Fenton; Paddy Small, Con O’Callaghan, Ciarán Kilkenny; Paul Mannion, Cormac Costello, Colm Basquel.
Subs: Jack McCaffrey for Gannon (49), Niall Scully for Costello (54), Seán McMahon for Howard (63), Cian Murphy for Murchan (65), Dean Rock for P Small (68).
Kerry: Shane Ryan; Paul Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan, Jason Foley; Graham O’Sullivan, Tadhg Morley, Gavin White; Diarmuid O’Connor, Jack Barry; Dara Moynihan, Seán O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien; Paudie Clifford, David Clifford, Paul Geaney.
Subs: Brian Ó Beaglaíoch for Murphy (56), Adrian Spillane for Moynihan (58), Micheál Burns for O’Brien (58), Killian Spillane for Geaney (63), Mike Breen for Barry (67).
Referee: David Gough (Meath).