Dubbed a test, this was a procession

Dublin 4-16 Kildare 1-09

Dubbed a test, this was a procession

A full declaration, a complete disclosure of this game would reveal Dublin had 13 goal chances.

Over a weekend’s football where 10 teams across 12 games failed to find the net, that amount of three-point opportunities is downright frightening.

If Donegal are Gaelic football’s version of the Boa constrictor then Dublin, closer to Mayo’s viper, are quickly becoming the equivalent of a king cobra, venomous and partial to eating their prey whole.

Tougher tests will come as the wheat is cut from the chaff but then this was supposed to be an examination.

It hadn’t been billed as a mock but that’s exactly how it turned out. Sure, Dublin had won the league game by 13 points but it appeared Kildare were merely testing the water that March afternoon.

Yes, Dublin had sauntered past Westmeath but that mismatch was slightly understandable as they were Division 2 this year.

But this? This was Division 1 versus Division 1, the first top flight Championship clash since Donegal and Tyrone met, and yet the two teams might as well have been poles apart so diverse were they in their quality of performances.

The question is just how much of an impact this was have on the Kildare psyche. Boasting a 100% qualifier record under Kieran McGeeney, that proud achievement is seriously under threat now if yesterday scarred them.

It most likely did given they were such poor neighbours to Dublin, managing just three points in the second half.

Playing a sweeper or opting for a more defensive operation may have been a bow to Dublin’s attack but it would have been a pragmatic tactic and, in all honesty, kept the score down.

Dublin certainly didn’t look as muscular as their counterparts yet were able to brush off Kildare’s tackles with ease, a nod to their superior athleticism and technical ability, James McCarthy and Ciarán Kilkenny the greatest examples of those attributes.

After ripping into the game and going 1-2 to no score ahead by the eighth minute, Kildare imploded. Paddy Brophy’s goal was matched by Paul Mannion’s in the ninth minute and Dublin took a lead they never relinquished in the 16th minute via a Kilkenny point.

By that time, Mannion’s successful attempt was one of three at Shane Connolly’s goal, McCarthy rasping the post in the fourth minute and Michael Darragh Macauley almost in for a second after 14.

Stephen Cluxton was booting over consolation 45s from Kildare’s desperate attempts to keep Dublin away from their net, Mannion forcing another block in the 16th minute.

Kilkenny then added his second and although Johnny Doyle bridged an 11-minute gap between scores for Kildare to cut the margin to two Dublin were shortly troubling Connolly again when great work by James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey set up Bernard Brogan.

His shot was well covered by Connolly but Andrews fired over a point in the same move. At the other end, Niall Kelly then saw his attempt managed by Cluxton.

A Morgan O’Flaherty score brought Kildare within two once more but from the following kick-out Dublin won a free on the sideline and following a move involving Kilkenny, McCaffrey and Diarmuid Connolly Brogan finished expertly into the bottom corner.

Dublin deserved a lead, they were ahead 2-7 to 1-5 at half-time, having had six worthwhile pops at goals, but the score was a killer for Kildare.

Late out to the field for the second half, they started positively with Paul Cribbin pointing only for Kilkenny to shoot his third score after some nice footwork by substitute Eoghan O’Gara.

Kilkenny registered his fourth and final point of the game in the 45th minute, coming after a Ger Brennan effort and another Cluxton 45, to make it 2-11 to 1-6 to Dublin and Kildare were beginning to fold.

O’Flaherty had a stab at goal but Dublin continued to exert pressure and Connolly beat his namesake in the 53rd minute with substitute Kevin McManamon’s run and pass setting him up perfectly.

Cribben’s point a minute later was Kildare’s first in 17 minutes and more woe was to follow for them with O’Gara tagging on his second point.

The might of Dublin became all too apparent in the 58th minute when four players attacked in an unchallenged phalanx only for Flynn’s shot to be snuffed out by Connolly.

Flynn and Macauley had their second unsuccessful strikes at goal in the 66th minute but O’Gara wasn’t denied in the third minute of injury-time with a deflected crack.

Connolly, who had kept the scoreline as respectable as he could, shook his head. The salt was already in Kildare’s wound, O’Gara’s kick was the vinegar.

Scorers – Dublin: P Mannion 1-1, B Brogan 1-1, K McManamon 1-0, C Kilkenny 0-4, S Cluxton 0-4 (3 45s, 1f), P Andrews 0-1, G Brennan 0-1, E O’Gara 1-2, D Rock 0-2(fs)

Kildare: P Brophy 1-1 E O’Flaherty 0-3(1f), J Doyle 0-2(1f), P Cribbin 0-2, S Hurley 0-1

Dublin: S Cluxton; J Cooper, R O’Carroll, D Daly; J McCarthy, G Brennan, J McCaffrey, MD Macauley, C O’Sullivan, P Flynn, C Kilkenny, D Connolly, P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan.

Subs: E O’Gara for Andrews (ht); K McManamon for Brogan (48); K Nolan for Brennan (50); K O’Brien for Daly (61); D rock for Connolly (61); N Devereaux for O’Sullivan (61)

Kildare: S Connolly; P Kelly, H McGrillen, D Hyland, E Callaghan, M Foley, E Bolton, S Hurley, Daryl Fynn, P Cribbin, N Kelly, E O’Flaherty, J Doyle, D Flynn, P Brophy.

Subs: S Johnston for Daniel Flynn (46); P O’Neill for Daryl Flynn (53); M O’Flaherty for Callaghan (54); F Dowling for Doyle (54)

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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