This Dublin team now living in rare auld times

This Dublin team now living in rare auld times
Dublin players and family members celebrate their five-ina- row with the Sam Maguire Cup after their All-Ireland SFC final replay defeat of Kerry at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile.

The caps are doffed. Dublin have become Gods of the game, Jim Gavin the equivalent of Zeus.

On September 1, Kerry had them questioning their immortality but all too briefly. Unlike the previous five-in-a-row attempt, there was no killer blow. There was no repeat 37 years on. Instead, it was Championship game number 37 unbeaten for Dublin.

Saddling such an inexperienced Kerry team with the same weight as that which a wily Offaly outfit faced in 1982 were just about able to ride was an unfair burden. But then this was Kerry where there is no time for apprenticeships, most certainly none in this historic of all seasons.

What they managed in the drawn game - to make Dublin question themselves - was an achievement in itself.

A far more mature Mayo outfit had twice done the same in this five-year era of Dublin dominance.

And up to half-time on Saturday, the dethronement was still on. But then came the parting of the green and gold sea, Eoin Murchan racing through the middle to commence the second half and deftly putting his outside-of-the-boot shot passed Shane Ryan.

Dublin, who had never trailed in the first half, were never matched from then on.

Reviewing that stunning moment, a notably more expansive Gavin spoke of how something from the training ground had paid off as the half-forwards peeled off to the wings to open up the centre.

It was a great set move from the throw-in which was well executed by the team collective. I’ve seen it before from him, don’t think anybody was surprised when it hit the net. You are surprised maybe to get that space from the opening play.

Peter Keane considered it a blow but highlighted it was “as good a time as any to concede it because you have another 40 minutes to go after it. When we had our goal chance, we were three down, if you had taken that… we had chances, we just didn’t convert them.”

Keane was referring to Stephen O’Brien’s 54th-minute opportunity when, through on goal, his angle was narrowed by Stephen Cluxton and Jonny Cooper as Paul Geaney screamed for him to square the ball. Instead, O’Brien shot and Cluxton made himself big to deny him.

Nine minutes before Cluxton’s stop, a stunning Seán O’Shea score that would have inspired Kerry to pile on another score or two against most opponents had them to within a point. But Dublin hit back with a brace, the points coming either side of Hill 16 breaking out into a rendition of “In The Rare Auld Times”.

The second of those scores, finished by Paul Mannion, was the perfect example of this Dublin team. Stringing together 35 passes in close to three minutes of build-up play, they sucked so much out of Kerry.

Although it was Dublin who had two players leave the field early through injury, the conditioning of their charges shone through as a host of Kerry players required treatment for cramp.

The margin was three following a David Clifford free in the 57th minute when Tommy Walsh made an instant impact. But Kerry produced just one more score for the remainder of this decider, again failing to score for the final 12 minutes.

Points from Niall Scully and James McCarthy opened up a five-point margin before O’Shea needed all his skill to kick a 63rd-minute point.

So good for so much of the game, Paul Geaney took too much out of the ball in the 67th minute as Kerry mounted an attack and when Dean Rock twisted over a point two minutes later Dublin were edging closer to history.

As glory beckoned Dublin and a second goal beckoned, Diarmuid Connolly made a poor decision when his team had an overlap and Ryan was able to make the save and deny Mannion the follow-up. But a Rock 45 in the fourth minute of additional turned Croke Park into a rhapsody in blue.

That outcome looked odds on in the opening stages as Dublin put together their most convincing start of the Championship, going four up after eight minutes. Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion were again finding their range but it was Ciarán Kilkenny who was delivering the best individual football.

Keeping things short early on, Dublin relied on their athleticism and it worked. Kerry kicked long and nothing paid off. They did work their way back into the game with turnovers and three points on the bounce brought them within a point in the 20th minute, Clifford and Geaney growing in stature.

It was Geaney who made sure the sides went into the interval level, a considerable bonus for Kerry at the time considering the difficulties that they experienced. “We were chasing it a bit in the first half,” acknowledged Keane. “We were down by four at one stage but got it back to equal at half-time.” And then up stepped Murchan.

The goal just after half-time wasn’t part of the plan. We worked our way back to get it to a point and we had a few chances after that. I suppose we were stretching it at all times thereafter. Today is a learning curve.

Tomorrow could well be Kerry’s but it’s always about the here and now and Dublin don’t just own it - they are it.

Scorers for Dublin: C. Kilkenny (0-4); P. Mannion (0-4); C. O’Callaghan (0-4); E. Murchan (1-0); D. Rock (0-3, 1 45); D. Byrne, N. Scully, J. McCarthy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kerry: D. Clifford (0-5, 1 free); S. O’Shea (0-5, 3 frees); P. Geaney (0-4); A. Spillane (0-1 each).

DUBLIN: S. Cluxton (c); D. Byrne, M. Fitzsimons; J. Cooper, E. Murchan, J. Small, J. McCaffrey; B. Fenton, J. McCarthy; N. Scully, C. Kilkenny, B. Howard; P. Mannion, C. O’Callaghan, D. Rock.

Subs for Dublin: D. Connolly for J. McCaffrey (inj, h-t); P. McMahon for E. Murchan (inj 57); C. Costello for N. Scully (58); C. O’Sullivan for D. Byrne (68); K. McManamon for P. Mannion (68); M.D. Macauley for B. Howard (70+4).

KERRY: S. Ryan; J. Foley, T. O’Sullivan, T. Morley; G. Crowley, P. Murphy (c), B. Ó Beaglaoich; D. Moran, J Barry, A. Spillane; D. O’Connor, S. O’Shea, S. O’Brien; D. Clifford, P. Geaney.

Subs for Kerry: G. White for A. Spillane, J. Sherwood for B. Ó Beaglaoich (52); T. Walsh for D. O’Connor (56); K. Spillane for P. Murphy (inj 60); J. O’Donoghue for J. Barry (65); D. Moynihan for G. Crowley (70+2);

Referee: C. Lane (Cork).

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