Dublin 2-18 Kerry 0-13: The bleed continues. The bleed increases. From a seep to a gush.
Yesterday presented Kerry with the possibility of a plaster until August 28 when it is anticipated they will face Dublin in an All-Ireland semi-final.
Instead, Dublin cut deeper.
The difference between the teams shouldn’t be determined in double digits but once more the score-line painted the cruellest picture of Kerry’s efforts. Like their 2011 and ’13 championship meetings, Dublin added insult to injury in the dying stages.
Kerry made it a one-point game in the 55th minute despite losing Aidan O’Mahony to a red card for an off-the-ball incident after which Jonny Cooper required treatment. But in the 66th minute, Padraig O'Connor’s slackness in retrieving a short kick-out was seized upon by Paul Flynn à la Kieran Donaghy September 2014. With that goal, the game was won and Kerry humbled by Dublin for the fifth straight time in Croke Park. Seven minutes later, and the deficit had more than doubled with Eric Lowndes’ additional time goal. Kerry, as Éamonn Fitzmaurice acknowledged afterwards, were over-powered as the reality of another defeat kicked in.
Dublin were far from excellent for long periods, indulging in almost as many turnovers as Kerry. Even though they were the better side, the early trigger moments belonged to Kerry. Peter Crowley’s hit on John Small was a crushing one. Colm Cooper’s dummy solo point opposing Philly McMahon appeared to indicate he was on his way to making amends for being outplayed by the defender seven months ago.
Cooper had the better of their battle as did Crowley in his duties on Diarmuid Connolly, outscoring him, but the majority of the duels swung in Dublin’s favour. Ciarán Kilkenny was at his majestic dynamic best; Bernard Brogan at his brilliantly economic best.
Long before the kick-out mix-up that sealed their fate, Kerry were losing far too many of their own restarts. It was from a lost restart in the 28th minute that Brian Fenton fisted over a point that put Dublin into a lead they never surrendered.
Kerry were guilty too on several occasions of bringing the ball into traffic. It was from one such error by O’Mahony in the 29th minute that the ball was transferred long into Brogan who beat Marc Ó Sé aerially to point.
Brogan had been subdued by Ó Sé for most of the first half but in the space of five minutes took him for three points, helping Dublin into a 0-10 to 0-8 lead at the break. The advantage was stretched to four three minutes into the second half although returned to one by the 47th minute when Crowley, Donaghy and Darran O’Sullivan found space to strike sweetly.
Then followed the sending off, which Jim Gavin felt had a significant influence on the game. “There’s no doubt it had an impact. That game was as close to championship pitch as you’ll get. When you lose a man you’re immediately under stress. There are spaces being opened up that can be exploited by the opposition.
“That said, I thought we were beginning to get some control on the game at that particular point. We had created a lot of opportunities up to that stage, didn’t execute them that well but were still creating them. I thought we were beginning to get a foothold but there’s no doubt it did impact on Kerry’s performance.”
And yet Kerry cut the gap to the minimum for a second time via Paul Murphy in the 55th minute prior to a Kevin McManamon point. Paul Mannion was then brought down by Shane Enright for a penalty which Dean Rock sent over the bar. A Bryan Sheehan free made it a two-point game with a 62nd minute but the dam was heaving when Brogan and Cormac Costello found their range before it eventually burst with Flynn’s goal.
Donaghy was unfortunate not to be allocated a penalty in injury-time but, eight points down, a goal wouldn’t have mattered. Instead, another came at the opposite end when Lowndes was teed up by Brogan.
Fitzmaurice would have had reason to believe the score-line was harsh but he felt otherwise. “I think at times we get obsessed with stats in Gaelic games. The most important stat is the scoreboard and you win by what you deserve to win; you lose by what you deserve to lose. We competed well for three-quarters of the game, but similar to 2013, Dublin kind of overpowered us at the end. They got goals and stretched out the gap. It doesn’t matter if you lose by a point or lose by 10 or 11 points, you lose and that’s it. I wouldn’t be really getting too bogged down on that.”
What Fitzmaurice can’t ignore, though, is the advantage Dublin hold over Kerry, real as it is psychological.
At this rate, it will be some time before they relinquish it.
Scorers for Dublin:
D. Rock (0-5, 3 frees, 1 penalty); B. Brogan (0-4); P. Flynn, E. Lowndes (1-0 each); C. Kilkenny, K. McManamon (0-2 each); J. Cooper, B. Fenton, P. Mannion, D. Connolly, C. Costello (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kerry:
B. Sheehan (0-3, frees); S. O’Brien, P. Crowley, D. O’Sullivan (0-2 each); C. Cooper, D.Walsh, K. Donaghy, P. Murphy (0-1 each)
S. Cluxton; D. Byrne, P. McMahon, J. Cooper; J. Small, C. O’Sullivan, J. McCarthy; B. Fenton, D. Bastick; P. Flynn, D. Rock, C. Kilkenny; P. Mannion, D. Connolly, B. Brogan.
Subs for Dublin:
M.D. Macauley for D Bastick (48); K. McManamon for D. Connolly (54); C. Costello for D. Rock (60); M. Fitzsimons for P. McMahon (63); E. Lowndes for P. Mannion (68); D. Daly for J. Small (70).
B. Kealy; M. Ó Sé, P. Crowley, S. Enright; F. Fitzgerald, M. Griffin, A. O’Mahony; K. Donaghy, D. Moran; D. Walsh, P. Murphy, B. Sheehan; D. O’Sullivan, C. Cooper. S. O’Brien.
Subs for Kerry:
K. Young for F. Fitzgerald (45); B. O’Sullivan for D. Walsh (54); J. Lyne for M. Griffin (60); B.J. Keane for S. O’Brien (62); P. O’Connor for P. Crowley (63); M. Geaney for P. Murphy (69).
A. O’Mahony (straight, 50).
E. Kinsella (Laois)
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