Epic tale goes Dublin’s way
Kingdom smothered under blue tide after McManamon leads way with sublime goal
Dublin’s Kevin McManamon score his side’s second goal of the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
On the weekend we lost Seamus Heaney, it was as well that hype and history rhymed. Dublin and Kerry handed us a plate filigreed with spun gold and then proceeded to heap it high, serving up an All-Ireland semi-final for the ages.
It ended with a Dublin jailbreak, a bust-out closing spell in which they plundered 2-2 in just five minutes to make the scoreboard look a fraud.
It said 3-18 to 3-11 when all was done let nobody imagine it tells half the story.
For Kerry were carried out on their shields here. A seven-point beating is a lie, plain and simple. Dublin trailed by a point with three minutes left and hadn’t scored for the previous eight. For a time it looked like Kerry might just manage to squirrel away enough possession and kill enough clock. But it wasn’t to be.
Diarmuid Connolly pointed a tricky free from out on the right to draw the sides level as time ticked on towards 70. Even then, Declan O’Sullivan had a decent chance soon after to kick Kerry into the lead again but he pulled it wide. With 81,553 through the gates, the biggest crowd of the year had seen the best game of the year and few among us would have found the idea of returning for another crack next Saturday anything less than agreeable.
But in the end it came down to a single kick-out. One scrap for possession, a heap of bodies and a cloud of dust. David Moran and Marc Ó Sé went up for Kerry and got in each other’s way a little, allowing Michael Darragh Macauley to flick out a hand and put Kevin McManamon in the clear.
Suddenly he had 60 yards of space in front of him, the Hill beckoning him home.
After a game where Kerry had so successfully curbed Dublin’s running options, it seemed incredible that McManamon could find such room right at the moment when Dublin needed it most. It was like they’d tried every key, only to find the door had been unlocked.
The hero of the 2011 All Ireland final headed straight for goal and his finish sent the place into orbit. Connolly followed up with a sealing point and Eoghan O’Gara cracked a goal in off the crossbar with the last kick of the game. McManamon’s goal was a kidney punch that left Kerry bent double and the rest of it was a matter of blows landing as they sank to their knees.
“The way we approached the game we always felt it was going to come down to the last five minutes,” said Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
“We knew that there would be goals there for us today. The way Dublin play they have a very attack-minded philosophy. They go for broke but they do leave themselves a bit exposed at the back.
“We felt with the forwards we have and the way the lads were playing in training that there were going to be goals there for us and even more than we got. We knew as well that Dublin were going to get periods of dominance in the game and of course they were going to score. We figured it would come down to the last five minutes even though we got three goals in the first half.”