Dublin 2-17 - Kerry 0-11: Dublin left the mark of champions on this clash in doing so branding this young Kerry side with it to all but qualify for a sixth Division 1 final in a row, writes John Fogarty.
Watched by a 24,026 crowd in Croke Park, Dublin delivered vengeance for last year’s league final loss to the same opposition by sending them crashing into a relegation battle.
The All-Ireland victors were only three up at half-time but were 11 ahead by the 49th minute and hit the 12-point difference on four occasions. Their second goal came in the 41st minute as Ciaran Kilkenny got a second bite of the cherry having had his fisted effort parried.
Kerry had to wait for 29 minutes between the halves to register their ninth score and some of their sloppy play had their manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice throwing his eyes to the heavens.
Dublin kept up their trend of slow starts in this campaign although the manner in which they found themselves 0-4 to 0-1 behind after nine minutes had much to do with just how alert Kerry were. David Clifford’s senior Croke Park debut saw him field above Cian O’Sullivan turn and point in the second minute. Seán Ó Sé was one of those early scorers and his through ball to Paul Geaney to set up Kevin McCarthy was special.
A Kilkenny brace steadied Dublin and they had their first goal chance in the 15th minute when Dean Rock almost made the most of one of several poor Kerry restarts but his lob went wide. After a good Ronan Shanahan advance, Paul Geaney struck the post after deceiving Stephen Cluxton in the 17th minute although McCarthy at least sent the rebound over the bar.
Dublin jumped into the lead with the opening goal in the 20th minute. Jonny Cooper, excellent throughout the half, read a quick Clifford free quicker than anyone to initiate an attack and the home side attacked, Brian Fenton dinking a ball into Shane Carthy who managed to square it to Niall Scully to palm to the net.
Kerry nearly cancelled it out soon after when a long ball in fooled Cluxton and Seán Ó Sé only had Cooper to beat but fired the ball wide. At least Kerry followed it up with a couple of points but Kilkenny and Rock closed out the scoring to see Dublin lead 1-8 to 0-8.
Both teams lost a player - Barry O’Sullivan and John Small - to deliberate pull down black cards before the break.
Scorers for Dublin: C. Kilkenny (1-3); N. Scully (1-1); D. Rock (0-4, 3 frees); P. Andrews (0-3); C. Basquel (0-2); J. Cooper, P. Small, C. Costello, P. McMahon (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: D. Clifford (0-4, 2 frees); K. McCarthy, M. Burns (0-2 each); P. Geaney, S. Ó Sé, M. Geaney (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: S. Cluxton (c); D. Byrne, C. O’Sullivan, J. Cooper; S. Carthy, J. Small, E. Lowndes; B. Fenton, M.D. Macauley; N. Scully, C. Basquel, B. Howard; D. Rock, C. Kilkenny, P. Andrews.
Subs for Dublin: P. Small for S. Carthy (32); P. McMahon for J. Small (black, h-t); C. Reddin for P. Small (blood, 52); P. Small for D. Rock (58); A. McGowan for C. O’Sullivan (inj 64); C. Costello for C. Kilkenny, E. Ó Conghaile for B. Fenton (both 68).
KERRY: S. Murphy (c); R. Shanahan, P. Murphy, J. Foley; P. Crowley, S. Enright, B. Ó Beaglaoich; J. Barry, B. O’Sullivan; M. Burns, S. Ó Sé, A. Spillane; D. Clifford, P. Geaney, K. McCarthy.
Subs for Kerry: É Ó Conchuir for B. O’Sullivan (black, 34); M. Geaney for S. Ó Sé, B.J. Keane for P. Geaney (both h-t, inj); F. Fitzgerald for K. McCarthy (48); D. Moran for A. Spillane (50); D. Casey for M. Burnes (64).
Referee: C. Branagan (Down).