Dublin trounce Kerry to set down an intimidating marker

Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s young side were no match for the All-Ireland champions

Tempers flare between Dublin and Kerry during their Allianz League Division One clash at Croke Park. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Dublin 2-17 Kerry 0-11

For a while, this looked like far more than a league game. You don’t want to be dressing March afternoons up as Championship without good reason but for a spell in the first half of this refixed encounter, it felt like no exaggeration. Kerry’s young team were giving Dublin plenty of it, both on the scoreboard and in the numerous tussles that were breaking out all over the pitch.

And then Dublin did what Dublin do and Kerry were left looking like just another crowd of hassled unfortunates. A game that was on a knife-edge just short of half-time – Dublin were only 1-6 to 0-8 up in the 30th minute – got simplified in the usual way. Kerry didn’t score for half an hour either side of the break, during which Dublin ran up 1-8 on the bounce. That was that, game over long before the end.

Ciarán Kilkenny gave a bravura display, nailing three first-half points and poking home a goal on 41 minutes that told everyone there was very little to see in the remainder of the afternoon. Jonny Cooper was his tigerish self, Paddy Andrews stuck three points from play. And Dublin did it all without James McCarthy or Paul Mannion togging out.


Still, this genuinely was a tasty match-up for the first half-hour. There was no end of needling and the fact that referee Ciarán Branagan had a player from both sides black carded before half-time was a fair enough reflection on the niggling nature of things.

Barry O’Sullivan walked for Kerry for dragging down Brian Fenton after the Dublin midfielder marked a kick-out. John Small had his afternoon shortened on the linesman’s advice for hauling Sean O’Shea to the ground off the ball. Flash fires of push-me-pull-you were breaking out all over the pitch seemingly at will from the middle of the first half to the break.

Dublin’s Shane Carthy celebrates after Niall Scully scored their first goal. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

There are days when that sort of stuff kills the game as a spectacle. This wasn’t one of those days. If anything, the shaping elevated an already decent encounter. It gave it an edge that all the pretty scores that had opened the game. To-the-manor-born David Clifford was roasting Cian O’Sullivan at one end, former child star Kilkenny was a class apart at the other.

Clifford was excellent in that opening period and was unfortunate that a mistake he made at one end cost Kerry dearly at the other. Having scored two points of his own and set another up for Seán O’Shea, he tried a quick free in the 18th minute that he ought to have popped over the bar. Cooper was wise to it and intercepted, setting in motion the move that led to Niall Scully batting home the first Dublin goal. Instead of going two points ahead, Kerry fell a couple behind. It was Dublin’s first lead and they didn’t relinquish it for the rest of the day.

Kerry had their chance. Paul Geaney hit the butt of the Canal End post, O’Shea somehow contrived to screw a shot wide with the goal gaping. There are days when you get away with that kind of thing but they don’t usually come against Dublin. Once Jim Gavin’s side got to half-time ahead, they made their adjustments and blew Kerry away upon the restart.

The Dublin threat came from everywhere. Andrews, Paddy Small, Colm Basquel and Scully all weighed in either side of Kilkenny’s goal. Dean Rock hit the post, Shane Murphy pulled off a fine save from Basquel.

Kerry couldn’t get a breath. By the time Micheál Burns finally ended their long run without a score in the 54th minute, they trailed by 11. In the end, Kerry only score three points in the second half. Dublin scored 1-9.

Nothing more to say, really.

DUBLIN: 1. S Cluxton; 2. J Cooper (0-1), 3. D Byrne, 4. E Lowndes; 5. J McCarthy, 6. C O'Sullivan, 7. J Small; 8. B Fenton, 9. MD Macauley; 10. N Scully (1-1), 15. C Basquel (0-2), 12. B Howard; 13. P Andrews (0-3), 14. D Rock (0-4, three frees), 11. C Kilkenny (1-3).

Subs: 26. P Small (0-1) for Carthy (31 mins), 21. P Mc Mahon (0-1) for J Small (black card, half-time), 25. C Reddin for Rock (58 mins), 20. A McGowan for O’Sullivan (65 mins), 18. C Costello (0-1) for Kilkenny (68 mins), 22 E Ó Conghaile for Fenton (68 mins).

KERRY: S Murphy (capt.); 2. S Enright, 3. J Foley, 4. R Shanahan; 5. P Murphy, 6. P Crowley, 7. B Ó Beaglaoich; 8. J Barry, 9. B O'Sullivan; 10. M Burns (0-2), 11. S O'Shea (0-1), 12. A Spillane; 13. D Clifford (0-4, two frees), 14. P Geaney (0-1), 15. K McCarthy (0-2).

Subs: 19. E Ó Conchúir for O’Sullivan (black card, 35 mins), 22. M Geaney (0-1) for O’Shea (half-time), 17. BJ Keane for Geaney (half-time), 23. F Fitzgerald for McCarthy (48 mins), 26. D Moran for Spillane (50 mins), 21.D Casey for Burns (64 mins).

Referee: C Branagan (Down).