Leinster MFC final: Dublin 0-19 Kildare 2-8
Lenny Cahill’s seven-point haul proved decisive as Dublin, for the second year running, dismissed Kildare in Portlaoise to keep hold of the Leinster MFC title.
Eight points separated the teams a year ago and while it was only five this time, it felt almost as emphatic.
Corner-forward Cahill took the Player of the Match award, though it was a strong collective display as Dublin led virtually from start to finish, taking two second-half Kildare goals in their stride.
Their reward for collecting a 35th provincial title is an All-Ireland quarter-final clash with the Munster runners-up – Cork or Kerry – on Saturday week. Kildare, meanwhile, will face the Munster champions.
With 13 goals in their previous four games – including last week’s 6-15 semi-final demolition of Offaly – Dublin’s scoring threat was clear.
Kildare came to Portlaoise armed with a plan to stifle the Dubs and to punish them on the counterattack, deploying Seanan Murphy as their spare man at the back.
The teams were tied at 0-3 apiece after 23 minutes, but Dublin took over from there and registered six points in a row before half-time to lead 0-9 to 0-3.
Castleknock talent Cahill struck four consecutive scores during that mini blitz and punched the air in delight after each of them.
Kildare boss Niall Cronin responded by making a triple change at half-time. He also dispensed with the sweeper, and immediately they looked more threatening.
Evan Donnelly cut the deficit with a point and while Dublin responded with three themselves, a 1-2 Kildare blast that included a cracking Tadhg Donlan goal cut the gap to just three.
The problem for Kildare was that without the extra cover at the back, Dublin looked like getting a score each time they attacked.
The scores duly followed with Ryan Mitchell, substitute Shane Mullarkey and Curley all slotting over for Dublin.
Kildare were thrown a lifeline when Evan Boyle struck their second goal in the 57th minute, this time reducing the margin to four points.
They couldn’t provide a fairy-tale finale though, and Dublin sealed the win with late scores from Mullarkey and Cahill.
DUBLIN: C Murray; S Keogh (0-1), C Emmett, J O’Sullivan; J Young (0-1), E Costello, R Mitchell (0-1); S Ryan (0-1), A Carolan (0-1); P Coleman, L O’Boyle (0-1, 1 45), N Byrne (0-3); L Cahill (0-7, 4f), H Curley (0-1), P Curry. Subs: S Mullarkey (0-2) for Curley 43 mins, C O’Connor for Young 50 mins, A O’Reilly for Coleman 51 mins, C McAweeney for O’Boyle 61 mins.
KILDARE: C Moore (0-2, 2f); L Kelly, J Donnelly, M Chambers; R Murray, R Lawlor, C Moran; E Boyle (1-0), D Kinch; J Cunningham (0-2), S Murphy, H Redmond (0-1); E Donnelly (0-2), D Mullahy, T Donlan (1-1). Subs: P O’Dea for Murray h/t, L O’Connor for Kinch h/t, C Keaveny for Mullahy h/t, J McCabe for Murphy 40 mins, R Kelly for Donnelly 56 mins.
Referee: A Smith (Meath)