Dublin and Kerry will have to battle it out again on Saturday, September 14 (6pm throw-in), after this absorbing if error-strewn tussle finished tied.
Despite being down a man for the second half, Dean Rock had an outside chance of winning it for the defending champions with the penultimate kick of the game when Seán O’Shea fouled Paddy Small under the Cusack Stand. However, his shot tailed short and wide.
Dublin led by five points with 15 minutes of normal time remaining but then Kerry hit them for 1-2, substitute Killian Spillane finishing deftly for a 56th minute goal. Points followed by another replacement Tommy Walsh and it was Walsh who claimed an inside ball by David Moran to feed O’Shea for the equaliser.
After Dean Rock and O’Shea kicked scores, Spillane was on the mark again to put Kerry ahead in the 66th minute. There was drama when a Cormac Costello kick was initially claimed as a point only for HawkEye to overrule it but the ultimate leveller came from Rock four minutes into additional time after some great work from Eoin Murchan.
The second half was going to be a question of how Dublin dealt with Jonny Cooper’s absence. The initial signs were not promising. After Paul Murphy has crashed the crossbar in the 40th minute, O’Shea with his third 45 brought Kerry to within two points. The immense Jack McCaffrey fisted a score from a move worked from a Stephen Cluxton kick-out and then Gavin Crowley fired back. Stephen O’Brien was then denied what looked like a genuine shout for a penalty when challenged by McCaffrey.
Dublin, working trojanly and no more than Brian Howard and McCaffrey, powered into a five-point lead by the 55th minute although they were denied a strong claim for a penalty in the 48th minute and Tom O’Sullivan was lucky to stay on the field after fouling Con O’Callaghan twice. But on the other side Moran was the dynamo, although his ball that triggered the goal for Spillane was initially cut out by David Byrne who lost it on hitting the ground.
The scoreline read 0-3 to 0-1 to Dublin coming into the sixth minute when Kerry threatened Dublin’s goal for the first time, Paul Geaney’s shot denied by James McCarthy on his knees on the goal-line.
On a day when Kerry had to be perfect, they weren’t in those early stages as David Clifford kicked two wides and ballooned another short. However, they were turning Dublin over regularly and from an Adrian Spillane-won ball Clifford was off the mark in the 11th minute.
Then came the penalty a minute later, Geaney booming one into Clifford who was visibly held by Cooper and David Gough had no other option but to award the penalty. However, Cluxton was level to Geaney’s strike from the spot although Geaney ensured Kerry gleaned something out of it with the resultant 45. With Kerry much in the ascendancy and vacuuming up Cluxton’s restarts, O’Brien then flashed over a point to put Kerry ahead.
Jack Barry had claimed two kick-outs in a row but what seemed like Dublin’s weakness at that time became their advantage as Howard rose to the sky and claimed a mark in the 19th minute. Keen to move the ball on as Kerry had pressed up, the ball transferred at break-neck speed and it was McCaffrey who found the net in a most sweeping move.
Kerry’s purple patch was over and the next two scores were Dublin’s, Rock posting a 45 and then adding a free afterO’Callaghan had been held just before prompting a save from Shane Ryan.
The Kerry goalkeeper wouldn’t have been happy with the lack of short kick-out options while Dublin were again jumping the press, Rock fielding beautifully in the 31st minute to initiate an attack which finished with O’Callaghan splitting the posts.
O’Shea and Rock then exchanged frees before O’Shea ended the half with the free caused by Cooper in fouling Clifford to earn his second yellow card and the scoreboard read 1-9 to 0-8.
Scorers for Dublin: D. Rock (0-10, 7 frees, 1 45); J. McCaffrey (1-3); P. Mannion (0-2); C. O’Callaghan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: S. O’Shea (0-10, 4 frees, 3 45s); K. Spillane (1-1); D. Clifford (0-2); S. O’Brien, G. Crowley, T. Walsh (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: S. Cluxton (c); M. Fitzsimons, J. Cooper; D. Byrne, J. McCarthy, J. McCaffrey; B. Fenton, M.D. Macauley, D. Byrne; N. Scully, C. Kilkenny, B. Howard; P. Mannion, C. O’Callaghan, D. Rock.
Subs for Dublin: P. Small for M.D. Macauley (52); E. Murchan for J. Small (blood, 57-ft); D. Connolly for B. Howard, C. Costello for P. Mannion (both 68).
Sent off: J. Cooper (second yellow, 35).
KERRY: S. Ryan; J. Foley, T. O’Sullivan, T. Morley; P. Murphy, G. Crowley, B. Ó Beaglaoich; D. Moran, A. Spillane, J. Barry; G. White (c); S. O’Shea, S. O’Brien; P. Geaney, D. Clifford.
Subs for Kerry: K. Spillane for A. Spillane (45); J. Sherwood for G. White (49); T. Walsh for B. Ó Beaglaoich (53); J. Lyne for G. Crowley (68); D. Moynihan for J. Barry (70+3); M. Griffin for S. O’Brien (70+8).
Referee: D. Gough (Meath).