That series of Kerry wides in the second half, Eoin Murchan’s goal in the “Championship quarter” where Dublin have been known to be so powerful, Stephen Cluxton’s save from Stephen O’Brien when the margin was three points. They all fed into this result.
For all the questions about financing and favouritism, there can be no mistaking this is a bloody great Dublin team. The greatest of them all. For three halves, Kerry threw everything at them and they were able to absorb it before their class won out.
For Jim Gavin, who already stood alongside Mick O’Dwyer and Kevin Heffernan as a mastermind of the game but his standing may now be higher. To be able to rectify things after a difficult day at the office for him in the drawn game, he knew he didn’t have to make wholesale changes here. Even the alterations at half-time were tweaks. In Jim Dublin trust but in Dublin Jim trusted.
Kerry will learn an incredible amount from the last 13 days but they are continuing to cut their teeth and not scoring for the final 12 minutes of action for the second game in a row highlighted their lack of ruthlessness. It’s the final piece in the jigsaw for them.
Jack McCaffrey and Murchan’s games ended prematurely due to injury but then Kerry were the walking wounded, a handful of them breaking down at one stage or another with cramp in the second half.
James McCarthy’s move to midfield for the first half did not work, although Murchan’s introduction was a good one and the other late replacement, Diarmuid O’Connor, did a solid job on Jack McCaffrey’s wing. When Kerry weren't pushing up, putting four six-foot plussers across the middle didn’t work as much as they would have liked for kick-outs.
If Stephen Cluxton does retire now and as much as Jonny Cooper is vice-captain, Ciarán Kilkenny will be in the running for the armband and he gave a tremendous showing here with five points but his all-round performance was stupendous. He, Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan and Murchan were consistent throughout and in the second half the Dublin middle third came alive. Kerry’s inside forwards were excellent until the closing stages where their scores dried up.
Both teams would have had quibbles with the referee in the first half but Dublin more so, clear frees on Kilkenny and Con O’Callaghan not given. How Mick Fitzsimons was punished instead of O’Callaghan for the foul on Stephen O’Brien was bizarre. Conor Lane did far better in the second half.