Dublin 0-24 Kildare 0-19 (aet)
A strong extra-time in St Conleth’s Park before a crowd of approximately 8,000 gave Dublin a first O’Byrne Cup in seven years, their eighth in all.
Having mounted an impressive fightback from a six-point deficit in the 24th minute, Kildare had a chance to win the trophy for a third successive year in the final seconds of normal time but Darroch Mulhall, who'd had mixed fortunes with his frees, sent the kick wide.
Had it sailed over the bar, Dublin would have been exasperated to have lost a match they controlled on the scoreboard for so long – it wasn’t until eight minutes from full-time that they first fell behind.
However, like last week against Meath, they allowed the initiative to slip away and nearly came a cropper, as emboldened opponents responded.
The team look as if they may be short former Footballer of the Year Michael Macauley, who was red-carded just before the end of normal time for kicking out at Gary White, for the start of the league next week.
Jim Gavin said he would await further word from officials before deciding whether to challenge the automatic ban.
He was however pleased to have captured the one trophy to have eluded him in his two years in charge of Dublin.
“Yeah, it’s nice to win games like this, at this time of the season. I think everything we saw today was everything that’s good in Gaelic football. Two teams playing in an honest way, trying to be the best they can be, and I think both sets of players and managers would have got a lot from today’s game.”
The match unfolded as a stereotypical game of two halves. After a cautious opening of tit-for-tat scoring, Dublin stretched away into a good lead. This was partly reflective of greater urgency in the forwards, who began to make it harder for their direct opponents’ supplemented defence by tracking back more vigorously and exerting greater pressure on the man in possession.
As has become commonplace, Dean Rock’s reliability from frees was a vital source of scores and he ended with 0-10, all but one from placed balls.
A run of six points in less than 10 minutes after the quarter-hour mark gave Dublin a good lead, as Kevin McManamon – who ended up Man of the Match – hit a couple and there were others from play by Rock, set up by Cormac Costello, Tomás Brady and Jonny Cooper. Cooper had just come on for Nicky Devereux after a hamstring twinge forced the latter off in the 13th minute, and he ended the day as Dublin's first black-card departure in over a year.
Kildare hit their stride before half-time and had cut the margin to three before the break with points from Eamon Murphy, Eamonn Callaghan and Pádraig O'Neill.
In the second half Dublin maintained the three-point lead for most of the third quarter. McCaffrey sliced through Kildare and brought a save from Mark Donnellan for a 45, which Rock converted for a 0-13 to 0-10.
Kildare responded. Their defence played well with Peter Kelly and Eoin Doyle demonstrating why their return from injury has been so welcome and Mick O'Grady also performing effectively in a sector that Ryan has made no secret about wanting to improve.
Replacements Gary White and especially Pádraig Fogarty also made an impact, the latter's assist setting up an equaliser for Fionn Dowling and his cool 68th-minute finish capping a good move from the back featuring Ollie Lyons and Dowling and putting Kildare ahead 0-16 to 0-15 with time nearly up.
An unlikely deliverance arrived in injury-time when Dublin corner back
came down the right flank to equalise. Macauley’s dismissal gave Kildare the chance to win at the very death but that was about their only advantage, as Dublin were able seconds later at the start of extra-time to reintroduce yesterday’s captain Denis Bastick, a provision of the rules that baffled Ryan.
“So Dublin have four sets of fresh legs instead of three,” said the Kildare manager, “so the opposition actually get punished for somebody getting sent off. It’s a bizarre one.”
Although Fogarty kicked the first point, Dublin hit the front with two points by Shane Carthy, supplemented by another from McManamon. They never lost the lead and, in the final period, chalked up a further four points without reply. McManamon was taken down for a penalty which Donnellan saved but the St Judes corner forward wove in for the final point to put the match beyond Kildare.
DUBLIN: S Currie; M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, E Culligan (0-1); N Devereux, J Small, J McCaffrey; D Bastick, E Ó Conghaile; T Brady (0-3), D Rock (0-10, eight frees, one 45), N Scully; K McManamon (0-4), E O'Gara (0-1), C Costello (0-1). Subs: J Cooper (0-1) for Devereux (13 mins), S Carthy (0-2) for Scully (h-t), P Ryan for Costello (h-t), MD Macauley for Bastick (47 mins), D Daly for McCaffrey (53 mins). Bastick for Macauley (extra-time), M Deegan (0-1) for O'Gara (80 mins), H Dawson for Brady (88 mins), N Collins for Mcmanamon (90 mins). Black card: Cooper (61); Hannigan for Cooper (62 mins)
KILDARE: M Donnellan;, C Fitzpatrick, P Kelly, O Lyons;, D O'Brien, M O'Grady, E Doyle; H Lynch, P O'Neill (0-2); K Murnaghan, E Callaghan (0-3), E Murphy (0-2, frees); D Mulhall (0-7, all frees), T O'Connor, F Dowling (0-1). Subs: K Cribbin for Doyle (44 mins), G White (0-1) for Lynch (49 mins), G Farrell for Fitzpatrick (51 mins), P Fogarty (0-3) for Murphy (55 mins), S McNally for Kelly (extra- time), D Whyte for Dowling (78 mins), B Kinahan for O'Grady (86 mins), W Burke for Murnaghan (90)
Referee: David Gough (Meath).