Dublin make short work of struggling Kingdom
Kerry's Barry John Keane tugs the jersey of Dublin Cian O'Sullivan during yesterday's Allianz National Football League Division One clash in Killarney. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
DIVISION ONE Dublin 1-11 Kerry 0-4:It took Dublin 28 years to beat Kerry in Killarney, last time they played here, three years ago, and this time it took them about 20 minutes. As a contest it probably didn’t even last that long.
Indeed never in the history of this great rivalry have Kerry surrendered so willingly at home, Dublin’s superiority was so complete that they could afford to squander countless scoring opportunities and still win without even being tested. For the 5,400 keen observers in Fitzgerald Stadium it certainly made for an interesting afternoon.
For the second week in succession, one band of supporters left dreaming out loud of fresh possibilities, and the other left dreaming of fresh curse words; that it all coincided in Dublin against Kerry in very real time makes what happened hard to ignore, no matter how early in the season it still is.
What normally happens when Kerry play Dublin in Killarney is that two teams go at each other until one eventually wilts; what happened here is that Dublin went at Kerry and Kerry wilted straightaway.
Kerry had gone the last 43 minutes against Mayo last Sunday without registering a single point. They then went another 22 minutes here, before Patrick Curtain managed to score from probably their first open attack. That’s over an hour of football, without a single score. Positively blasphemous.
Worse was to come – as Kerry only registered three further points, one more from play, from defender Tomás Ó Sé.
Their total of 0-4 was, according to those in the know, Kerry’s lowest league total since 1966, when they managed an equally paltry total against Wicklow (and the same season they’d also gone scoreless in the second half against Louth).
None of this will bother the Dublin supporters, even if they could have never anticipated a result like this as they spilled off the 12:45 to Killarney Station. Dublin’s first round win over Cork was convincing, yet this was truly emphatic as, inspired by Bernard Brogan’s 0-9, they simply ran at Kerry at will and would have scored plenty more had their shooting been a little sharper.
Manager Jim Gavin made a few late changes, starting Cian O’Sullivan at midfield, where he ended up delivering a man-of-the-match performance.
Paddy Andrews was a constant threat alongside Brogan, and should have had two goals. Perhaps a little selfishly he tried to finish himself, and both times Brendan Kealy made a big block. Dublin’s goal eventually came on 63 minutes when substitute Craig Dias, having shot a poor wide minutes earlier, brilliantly finished off Brogan’s pass.
Former hurler Tomás Brady was also throwing his weight around the forward line, as was Diarmuid Connolly, before his game ended prematurely, after 28 minutes, with a sprained ankle. He’ll undergo a scan this week, but it didn’t look particularly bad.
The only other worry for Gavin was the apparent breakdown in discipline of midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley, who was shown a straight red card for some off-the-ball retaliation on Kerry substitute Kieran Donaghy on 57 minutes.
Macauley’s transgression was spotted by the umpires, and although Gavin had no complaints about it afterwards, he wondered by Donaghy was only shown yellow.
“He (Michael) has got a facial wound, shall we say. He reacted, which isn’t the right thing to do as I said before. I don’t accept it but he reacted, so the two guys obviously were striking.
“If you attempt to strike, the rule-book says you go off so that is the rule. You can’t give yellow cards for strikes, the rule says it’s a red.”
That was the only major grievance on an otherwise satisfying afternoon for Dublin, who were up 0-8 to 0-2 at half time, and never once truly threatened.
Captain Stephen Cluxton suggested Kerry weren’t a poor as they looked in the second half. “I don’t think it reflects the work we had to put in during the second half, they really put the pressure on and we found it very hard to get up the pitch but we held on, that was the main goal, to come out with two points.”
Later, in the midst of our post-game probing, someone handed Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice a freshly burned DVD of the game – which he may want to actually burn before viewing.
This defeat, coming on the back of losing with his club Finuge in Saturday’s All-Ireland intermediate club final, is devoid of any positives, yet Fitzmaurice vowed to stand by his young men.
“I think maybe in an ideal world you’d be blending in two or three players. We’ve had to blend a lot more. But the boys know, there comes a time you just have to step up to the mark. Maybe for the lads that hasn’t happened.
“We’re not going to panic. We won’t give up on the lads yet, no. But they realise the level it’s at. We know what they’re capable of, but it takes time. We will be patient, definitely.”