Dublin have a rare old time as London bridge a great gap
Kildare defence shredded by Bernard Brogan and company in 16-point loss
London’s Sean Kelly and Danny Ryan celebrate after beating Leitrim in the Connacht SFC semi-final at Dr Hyde Park yesterday. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho
So much for the provincial draws having handy sides and hairy sides. Dublin were supposed to find Kildare the steepest hill on their way to the Leinster final but they ploughed through them yesterday with a 4-16 to 1-9 victory that could have been anything they pleased in the end.
And Leitrim were supposed to sleepwalk their way to the Connacht final but instead they found downtrodden, put-upon London an immovable object in Hyde Park. After a stunning first half display that sent the Exiles in at half-time a scarcely credible 2-10 to 0-2 ahead, London just about held on at the end for a 2-11 to 1-13 win. History made, by a single point.
Dublin had 16 of them to spare over Kildare in front of a crowd of 53,204 in Croke Park. But in all seriousness, the margin could easily have drifted well past 20 and even close to 30. It’s no exaggeration to say that Dublin had a dozen goal chances in the game, as the centre of the Kildare defence opened up time and again like cheap trousers.
Kieran McGeeney sent his side out playing 15-on-15 and paid heavily for it. Goals from Paul Mannion, Bernard Brogan, Diarmuid Connolly and Eoghan O’Gara burnt them to a crisp but the worst of it was that each goal was more or less a carbon copy of the one that went before.
Plenty of the goal
Each came from a run from deep by a Dublin player, each found a Kildare defender split between the man on the ball and the man he was marking, each left the shooter with plenty of the goal to aim at and plenty of time to do so. Yet at no stage did Kildare drop a sweeper back to protect the full-back line or cut off the space. It was a charge McGeeney fully expected to be levelled at him afterwards.
“I’ve heard over the last 12 months that I’m tactically naïve and perhaps I am,” he said. “But I would like to know what you do tactically to hold onto the ball, in terms of not fist-passing it away and kick-passing it away. Most games we play we create more scoring chances than your opponent, which you’re supposed to devise in your tactics. But that’s twice now against Dublin we’ve come up short. If it’s me that’ll soon be found out.
“You have to keep going. You can’t listen to other people who’ll try to put you down. You have to keep on believing. You have to keep working. Courage is a funny thing. People talk about it. But it doesn’t exist unless there’s fear. If you’re not afraid then you don’t need courage.