Dramatic finishing burst helps Dublin across the line following a classic
Substitute Kevin McManamon’s goal breaks Kingdom’s spirit as Dublin march on to meet Mayo
Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey, Cian O’Sullivan, Jonny Cooper and Philip McMahon tackle James O’Donoghue of Kerry at Croke Park. Phogo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Dublin 3-18 Kerry 3-11
A friend from Cork once dismissed the 1987 league final between Dublin and Kerry with a heavy dose of irony: “Of course Dublin won so that was another classic”.
After yesterday’s breathtaking GAA All-Ireland football semi-final between the old rivals it’s very difficult for even the most dispassionate not to file this one under ‘C’ as well.
Kerry did everything expected of them, as the county had coped with the indignity of being conspicuous outsiders at the bookies and went in smarting from the late mugging that cost them the 2011 All-Ireland.
At various moments yesterday: during a helter-skelter first half and a bobbing, counter -punching third quarter they looked as if they had cracked Dublin but the widespread reservations about how they’d cope when Jim Gavin emptied the bench and turned up the heat in the closing were ultimately confirmed.
Wave after wave of attacks eventually wore down Kerry and late goals from Kevin McManamon – revisiting the damage he’d wrought on these opponents two years ago – and Eoghan O’Gara put a somewhat disproportionate gloss on the final score.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s team threw the kitchen sink at Dublin in the early stages, having decided the Leinster champions’ defence was the weak link.
With Colm Cooper on the 40 probing and picking out the best ball, Kerry were lethal. Between the seventh and 20th minutes they picked their shots and finished like assassins.
Dublin’s early scores from Macauley, Brogan – not fully on song but finishing with four points from play – and Diarmuid Connolly had pushed them in front when in the seventh minute Cooper threaded the ball in to Donnchadh Walsh, who flipped it to James O’Donoghue who notched his first goal. He added a point in the 11th and a minute later Dublin were in crisis.
Cooper again masterfully spotted Walsh’s run and placed him perfectly for the goal chance, which he coolly converted for a five-point lead.
Dublin were reeling but despite the onslaught they were making inroads themselves and both Macauley, who took the first point, and Brogan, who squeezed the ball narrowly wide, had excellent goal chances. But at the other end Kerry were giving the tutorials on how to finish.
So, arguably the most important score for Dublin came immediately after Kerry’s second goal when Connolly floated a dropping ball in on goal at the Canal End and Paul Mannion rose superbly to get a decisive contact on the ball to steady the score at 1-3 to 2-2.