Dublin 0-11 Kerry 1-14
Kerry returned to Croke Park in search of redemption, and avenged last September’s dramatic All-Ireland final defeat as the Spring Series burst into action in front of a crowd of 45,838.
The Kingdom appeared to be kicking themselves out of it in the first half when they shot a dozen wides, but they came good after the break to comfortably see off a Dublin side which badly missed the attacking thrust of the Brogan brothers.
Kerry were also without key men such as Colm Cooper and Declan O’Sullivan, but they were able to compensate with the impressive finishing of Bryan Sheehan, who finished with 0-8, and goalscorer Darran O’Sullivan.
A disappointing evening for the Dubs ended with midfielder Eamon Fennell receiving as straight red card just moments after coming on as a sub in the closing stages.
Kerry’s slick finishing in the opening stages gave way to an alarming litany of wides which by the halfway stage had grown to a dozen.
They eased into a three points lead early on with two Bryan Sheehan efforts, one a fine score from play, and a neat point from James O’Donoghue.
Kevin McManamon was always in the thick of the action as the Dubs endeavoured to get some movement going up front.
And it was the All-Ireland final goal-scorer who registered his side’s first score in the ninth minute, before Mossie Quinn followed up with a converted free.
Jack O’Connor’s men managed to keep their noses in front for much of the opening half, with O’Donoghue clipping over a free, and Barry John Keane angling over a neat score to cancel out Bryan Cullen’s 17th minute score.
But it started to go badly wrong for Kerry when they squandered a succession of scoring opportunities.
Dublin gratefully seized the initiative for Quinn to convert his second free, and a superb McManamon from wide on the left brought the sides level in the 23rd minute.
Kerry’s finishing went from bad to worse as the wides count slipped into double figures, and rising.
And Pat Gilroy’s side capitalised late on with Quinn launched a superb effort from distance, before All-Ireland final hero Stephen Cluxton stepped forward to send a ’45 sailing between the posts for a 0-7 to 0-5 first half lead.
Diarmuid Connolly’s superb pass sent up a goal chance for McManamon, but he couldn’t keep his shot down as he brought his tally to three.
Kerry rediscovered the scoring touch with Sheehan powering through the middle to pop over a point, and he levelled it up at 0-8 each on 47 minutes after Michael Fitzsimons picked up a booking by illegally halting a spectacular Darran O’Sullivan run.
Sheehan’s accuracy from play and placed balls provided a stark contrast to his colleague’s first half profligacy as he steered over another free to regain the lead on 49 minutes.
And Darran O’Sullivan grabbed the goal he had been threatening in the 55th minute, arriving at pace to collect Patrick Curtin’s perfectly timed pass to finish superbly past Cluxton.
With Tomas O Se probing from the back, the Kingdom, Kerry moved with purpose, putting together some slick moves, with Barry John Keane stretching their advantage with a neat point from a tight angle.
Eamon Fennell had been on the field for just a couple of minutes when he received a straight red card for a high challenge on Sheehan.
Dublin scorers: T Quinn 0-4 (3f), K McManamon 0-3, S Cluxton 0-2 (1f, 1 ’45), D Connolly, B Cullen 0-1 each.
Kerry scorers: D O’Sullivan 1-0, B Sheehan 0-8 (5f), J O’Donoghue (2f), BJ Keane 0-3 each.
Dublin: S Cluxton, M Fitzsimons, Rory O’Carroll, P McMahon, J McCarthy, G Brennan, C Dyas, P Brogan, K McManamon, B Cullen, D Connolly, E O’Gara, T Quinn.
Subs: P Flynn for Brogan, K Nolan for Fitzsimons, E Fennell for Ross McConnell, D Kelly for O’Gara, S Murray for Macauley
Kerry: B Kealy, S Enright, M O Se, P Crowley, T O Se, K Young, B Maguire, S Scanlon, B Sheehan, P Galvin, D O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, J O’Donoghue, K Donaghy, BJ Keane.
Subs: A Maher for Scanlon, P Curtin for S O’Sullivan, D O’Callaghan for D O’Sullivan, A O’Mahony for Crowley, D Bohan for Keane
Referee: M Deegan (Laois)