Dublin scratch seven year itch
Dublin 2-13 Kildare 2-11
Dublin bridged a seven-year barren spell to claim the Leinster title with a fruitful display over Kildare in Croke Park this afternoon.
The Dubs, under the guidance of Tommy Lyons - who guided Offaly to a provincial title five years ago - defied sustained Kildare pressure throughout to run out two point winners on a day when 78,033 supporters thronged inside the capital venue.
Dublin started just as they did against Meath with a blaze of blistering attacks and fine scores. Tremendous understanding in the full forward line intertwined with quality ball played in from midfielder Darren Homan saw the Dubs open a smart lead.
Corner forward Johnny McNally failed to score for Dublin in previous outings in this championship but scratched that statistic with three fine scores in the first half. His colleagues in the full forward line Alan Brogan and Ray Cosgrove were also on the score-sheet early to unsettle Kildare.
Kildare took time to find their feet but frees from Tadgh Fennin and John Doyle edged them into the fray. They got on terms and took the lead for the first time when Fennin belted the ball past the hapless Stephen Cluxton in the 28th minute. Midfielder Killian Brennan raced through the heart of the Dublin defence - where the injured Jonny Magee was sorely missed - and unselfishly fed the lurking Fennin who turned Coman Goggins and fired home.
Dublin equalised five minutes later. Senan Connell, having switched from left half forward to the right flank, raced down the wing before composing himself and slotting over from the tightest of angles.
Kildare's cluster of players in and around midfield left a number of gaping holes which Dublin exploited. Full back Paddy Christie found himself surplus to requirements at the back and duly trudged forward to point the Dubs into a one point lead at half-time, 0-9 to 1-5.
Dublin have unearthed a rare talent in Alan Brogan and the corner forward's early second half point following a determined run through the defence propelled the capital side into a two point lead. But Kildare replied in ruthless fashion one minute later. Substitute Darren Magee was caught back-tracking in possession and his attempted hand pass was brilliantly intercepted by Fennin who beat Cluxton from close range.
Despite growing in confidence and bandying the ball about with aplomb, Kildare were caught midway through the half when Dublin unleashed a minute of attacking madness that molded the outcome of the game. A McNally 45 drifted left of the posts but broke to Brogan who dinked it in off the posts for Dublin's first goal. While Kildare sought composure they were naively caught out in possession seconds later allowing Ray Cosgrove through to beat `keeper Enda Murphy soccer style for the second goal in a minute.
Kildare, staring a three point deficit in the face, renewed their challenge in the dying minutes and brought a fine save from Cluxton to deny Fennin a third goal. Substitute Paddy Murray knocked over a late score but Dublin had their work done by that stage and held out for their 44th provincial title.