Dublin off to a winning start as Kerry legend Paul Galvin announces his retirement

Late Jack McCaffrey point completes impressive comeback by 14-man Dubs

Dublin 2-8 Kerry 1-10

On a night when one of the biggest names in contemporary Gaelic games decided to step off the Field of Dreams, the next generation of Kerry and Dublin footballers got on with it at Croke Park before a crowd of 26,487. The All-Ireland champions' and league holders' tightly crafted win contained encouragement for both sides but the chilly opening act of this year's Allianz Football League had a significant postscript.

In response to a simple question afterwards about former Footballer of the Year Paul Galvin's non-appearance on the bench, Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice matter-of-factly stated that the curtain had come down on a high-profile and often controversial career.

“Paul is finishing up. He considered it through the autumn. I persuaded him to give it a go, not to have any regrets basically – to have a look at it and see if it was manageable and it just proved that it wasn’t.”


His website
In a statement on his website, Galvin thanked those connected with Kerry football and wished them well in the future.

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“More importantly I want to thank all my team-mates for your heart and friendship over the years. Standing my ground with you in the Kerry jersey was my privilege. I learned more from you than anyone and I am grateful for the opportunity I got to play with some of the best players to ever play the game.

“Having discussed it with the management during the week we felt it best to announce it after tonight’s game.”

Galvin’s last appearance at Croke Park was last year’s tip-roaring All-Ireland semi-final between the same counties. From that celebrated occasion Dublin had five and Kerry seven survivors but there was great interest in how the newcomers would perform with so many experienced players in the wings.

On the basis of that consideration Dublin manager Jim Gavin could be the happier. He was able to bring in two forwards from different ends of the age spectrum both of whom will be live contenders for first-team places.


Unscheduled start
Former Footballer of the Year Alan Brogan made an unscheduled start at centre forward in place of Bryan Cullen and although he was clearly rusty after two years battling injury, his appetite for the ball and his ambition in possession were manifestly unaffected. Cormac Costello was similarly sidelined by injury in his first season out of minor last year but his ability to take on defenders and beat them was at the heart of a number of scores.

His thrust through the Kerry defence after being picked out by Cian O’Sullivan – excellent at centre back particularly when under pressure in the second half after Seán George’s red card for an incident brought to referee David Coldrick’s attention by one of his umpires – and the precision with which he picked out Kerry’s green-flag nemesis Kevin McManamon for the 10th-minute goal set the pattern.

That remained however Dublin’s only score of the first 22 minutes, as Kerry opened in more sprightly form, showing great movement throughout the field and persistent menace in the full forwards where James O’Donoghue again demonstrated his taste for Croke Park, especially in the 23rd minute when flying past Mickey Fitzsimons and slamming the ball into the net for a five-point lead. He should have had another a few minutes later but curled his shot wide.

Barry John Keane and in the second half Stephen O'Brien also caused problems for the holders, whose own early attacks were generally contained by a Kerry defence in which Mark Griffin and especially Peter Crowley impressed.


Probing ball
But Dublin fitfully threatened and by half-time had scored another goal when Eoghan O'Gara, eluded Griffin, took Ciarán Reddin's probing ball, and slid the ball into the net. There were other chances and Brendan Kealy – who had a troubled night on his restarts– had to save smartly from McManamon who also later hit the goal frame. O'Gara was just wide when again in on goal.

Kerry's brisk opening to the second half saw them extend their 1-7 to 2-3 interval lead. But they managed just one point in the final half hour for most of which time Dublin were down to 14. Kerry will also be disappointed that their on-paper advantage at centrefield never fully materialised. In the second half Gavin ran his bench and was able to introduce Footballer of the Year Michael Darragh Macauley and Young Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey.

The supply to Kerry’s forwards tightened and although Fitzmaurice was critical of referee Coldrick for the lack of frees in the second half, the team’s final ball was frequently poor against a defence showing more urgency after losing George.

Lively centrefielder Shane Carthy, Costello and another significant replacement Paul Mannion kicked frees to level the scores and Ciarán Kilkenny's raking cross-field ball found McCaffrey raiding on the left and he managed to gallop forward and flick a point off his hand. Late on substitute Aidan O'Mahony was yellow carded for diving in his anxiety to draw a late scorable free.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; S George, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon; E Lowndes, C O'Sullivan, J Cooper; D O'Mahony, S Carthy (0-2, one free); C Kilkenny, A Brogan, C Reddin; K McManamon (1-1), E O'Gara (1-0), C Costello (0-2, frees). Subs: MD Macauley for O'Mahony (46 mins), J McCaffrey (0-1) for Reddin (50 mins), P Mannion (0-2, frees) for McManamon (54 mins), D Byrne for O'Gara (57 mins), K Nolan for Carthy (65 mins), D Nelson for Cooper (68 mins).
KERRY: B Kealy; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, B McGuire, J Sherwood; A Maher, D Moran (0-1, 45); J Lyne, M Geaney, D Walsh; BJ Keane (0-4, three frees), J O'Donoghue (1-3), S O'Brien (0-2). Subs: A O'Mahony for Geaney (48 mins), C Cox for J Lyne (54 mins), D Culhane for Sherwood (59), P Geaney for Walsh (62), P Kilkenny for Murphy (67), A Fitzgerald for Crowley (70).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).r