By John Fogarty
Dublin 2-17 Kildare 2-10: All-Ireland champions Dublin shrugged off a sluggish first half to make a winning start to their Division 1 campaign in Croke Park this evening.
Jim Gavin may have reason to question the conversion rate of just two goals from five attempts but he couldn’t argue with the force with which they began the second half.
Bernard Brogan had a shot saved by Mark Donnellan and both Dean Rock and Niall Scully struck goal attempts wide but Brogan was on hand to later set up Rock for Dublin’s first goal in the 45th minute and then Brian Fenton for a second less than a minute later.
Kildare had been decent in the opening period but it appeared to be a charmed life they were experiencing given the way in which Dublin devoured their kick-outs in the third quarter.
For almost 30 minutes of the second half, they had but two attempts at the posts from play.
Daniel Flynn found the net with a rasping shot at the death to give Kildare a crumb of comfort but it was otherwise a painful beginning on their return to Division 1.
Watched by a 26,027 crowd, the visitors led 1-6 to 0-7 and had been 1-1 to no score up after nine minutes when Luke Flynn, on his league debut, was unmarked on Stephen Cluxton’s far post to fetch a Paul Cribbin point attempt to slide it past the Dublin goalkeeper.
Like a good panto crowd, the Hill told their captain he was there but he didn’t hear them. Besides, that Flynn was on his own was an indictment for the outfield rearguard more so than Cluxton.
The score woke Dublin and they fired over the next five points, beginning with Rock via a free in the 11th minute and ending when Bernard Brogan angled over a shot.
That purple patch ended when Kevin Feely sent over a free in the 22nd minute following a James McCarthy foul on Cathal McNally.
Kildare had lost two players prior to that, Niall Flynn to an early injury and Chris Healy to a black card, but they kept on the pressure and Daniel Flynn blazed over a point when a goal – and a better-placed Eoin Doyle – was on.
Kilkenny levelled up matters again but then Paul Cribbin found his range and while Brian Fenton sent over another equaliser it was Flynn, again shooting just over the bar, and Mark Donnellan from a long-range free who finished out the half.
Dublin beat Kildare in the opening round of the Allianz Football league. Here are the GAANOW full-time highlights! pic.twitter.com/OScmrmx12Q— The GAA (@officialgaa) January 27, 2018
Scorers for Dublin: B. Fenton (1-3); D. Rock (1-2, 0-2 frees); C. Basquel (0-3); C. Kilkenny, N. Scully, B. Howard (0-2 each); B. Brogan, J. Small, K. McManamon (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kildare: D. Flynn (1-2); L. Flynn (1-0); E. Callaghan (0-3, frees); K. Feely (0-2, frees); N. Flynn (free), M. Donnellan (free); P. Cribbin (0-1 each).
Dublin: S. Cluxton (c); M. Fitzsimons, D. Byrne, D. Daly; J. McCarthy, J. Cooper, J. Small; B. Fenton, M.D. Macauley; N. Scully, C. Kilkenny, B. Howard; D. Rock, C. Basquel, B. Brogan.
Subs for Dublin: K. McManamon for M.D. Macauley (47); E. Lowndes for J. Cooper (51); P. Mannion for D. Rock, P. McMahon for M. Fitzsimons (both 51); C. O’Shea for D. Daly (59); P. Andrews for B. Brogan (60).
Kildare: M. Donnellan; D. Hyland, P. Kelly, M. O’Grady; J. Byrne, E. Doyle (c), C. O’Donoghue; K. Feely, L. Flynn; F. Conway, C. Healy, P. Cribbin; N. Flynn, D. Flynn, C. McNally.
Subs for Kildare: D. Slattery for N. Flynn (inj 5); N. Kelly for C. Healy (20); T. Moolick for F. Conway (51); B. McCormack for L. Flynn (56); M. Hyland for P. Kelly, E. Callaghan for K. Feely (both 61).
Referee: C. Lane (Cork).