Dublin 2-8 Kerry 1-10
Just over a week after GAA director general Páraic Duffy indicated a crackdown on managers criticising referees, Eamonn Fitzmaurice launched a stinging attack on David Coldrick’s display after Saturday’s defeat to Dublin.
The Kerry manager was more frustrated about some of the referee’s decisions than his own side’s failure to avail of a numerical advantage for the majority of the second half.
It did seem unusual — if entirely plausible — that a team could go over 35 minutes of football without earning a single free in scoring range, and Kerry were unfortunate not to pick up a handful after the break. On the other hand, Dublin could stoutly argue Cormac Costello merited a couple more frees than he was given.
Duffy has suggested the withdrawal of sideline privileges for a number of games would be an appropriate punishment for managers who lambaste referees. It wouldn’t have mattered much to Fitzmaurice on Saturday as he and his selectors sat in the coaches box in the Hogan Stand for the entirety of the game.
In the mood he was in, the danger of sanction would hardly have concerned him. He acknowledged his team “seemed to retreat into our shell” in the second half, but held almost all his fire for the man in black.
“I felt the referee’s performance was well below par tonight. I watched the game in the coaches box so I had the luxury of an instant replay up there. He got a lot of calls wrong. We found it very hard to get frees in the second half close to goal. Dublin didn’t.
“Even at the end, there was an incident with James O’Donoghue. I could see the referee was looking in at the incident close to goals while the play was going on. He didn’t give a free, he let the play develop, we got nothing out of it and he went in to speak to the defender at the close of the play.
“I was just baffled by it. I felt that if there was something going on that warranted a talking to, he should have called it. So that was frustrating. I don’t like talking about officials because it’s a tough job. But for one of the top referees in the country, I thought he was below par tonight.”
Jim Gavin, not surprisingly, viewed Coldrick’s work differently. “Sometimes a decision goes with you, sometimes it goes against you. Some of the calls this evening I thought we should have got we didn’t get — that’s sport.”
This marked Fitzmaurice’s third game against Dublin as manager and third defeat. Hardly the end of the world but Kerry’s record of one win across the seven league and Championship meetings since 2009 isn’t a pretty one.
Some of Coldrick’s calls may have militated against them but then so did their own decision-making. Had James O’Donoghue, having rifled to the net in the 17th minute, passed inside to an isolated Anthony Maher four minutes later, the majority of the 26,487 Croke Park crowd would have had more to worry about.
On the hour mark and Kerry one point ahead, substitute Conor Cox hesitated in putting in a ball over the top to a free Stephen O’Brien. The ball was instead exchanged laterally and sent wide by Donnchadh Walsh.
Two further Kerry wides followed and ultimately their final score was O’Brien’s 51st minute effort, which put them two ahead.
A crunching shoulder by Peter Crowley on a marauding Michael Darragh Macauley appeared to indicate the strength of Kerry’s determination to hold their lead in the final quarter.
But Dublin launched further waves of attack, substitute Paul Mannion posting a free after Michael Fitzsimons was felled, and then striking over an equalising free in the 63rd minute when the excellent Cormac Costello was upended.
The winning score came four minutes from the end of normal time when Ciaran Kilkenny, noticing a large mass of open space containing just Jack McCaffrey on the left side, flew over an outside-of-the-boot kick in his direction. McCaffrey proceeded to sprint forward and fist over a point.
Crowley and replacement Paul Geaney had chances to level matters but were inaccurate. There was even time for ignominy with Aidan O’Mahony deservedly picking up a yellow card for feigning a foul in an attempt to win a free.
And yet it had begun all so promising for Kerry. After a first half when the lead was exchanged five times, they led by one at the break, 1-7 to 2-3.
Kerry’s bogeyman, Kevin McManamon, bagged the first goal of the game when he palmed into the net after a Costello drive forward. O’Donoghue’s ripper was initiated by a poor Stephen Cluxton restart and the visitors were five points to the good.
McManamon kicked superbly for Dublin’s first point in the 23rd minute and their second goal came on the half-hour mark when a disappointing Brendan Kealy kick-out was easily caught by Ciaran Kilkenny, transferred to Ciaran Reddin whose inside pass was just right for Eoghan O’Gara to slide the ball past the goal-line.
It put Dublin ahead for the second time although they might have been out of sight but for two fine Kealy saves. However, it was Kerry who merited the first half advantage and they extended it to three points six minutes into the second half.
Sean George’s red card handed them the advantage, but they could muster just one point for the remainder of the game.
That statistic was more damning than any referee criticism.
Scorers for Dublin: K McManamon (1-1); E O’Gara (1-0); S Carthy (one free), C Costello (frees), P Mannion (frees) (0-2 each); J McCaffrey (0-1).
Red card: S George (45).
Subs: MD Macauley for D O’Mahony (46); J McCaffrey for C Reddin (50); P Mannion for K McManamon (54); D Byrne for E O’Gara (57); K Nolan for S Carthy (65); D Nelson for J Cooper (65).
Scorers for Kerry: J O’Donoghue (1-3); BJ Keane (0-4, three frees); S O’Brien (0-2); D Moran (0-1, 45).
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; S George, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon; E Lowndes, C O’Sullivan, J Cooper; D O’Mahony, S Carthy; C Kilkenny, A Brogan, C Reddin; K McManamon, E O’Gara, C Costello. Subs: MD Macauley for D O’Mahony (46); J McCaffrey for C Reddin (50); P Mannion for K McManamon (54); D Byrne for E O’Gara (57); K Nolan for S Carthy (65); D Nelson for J Cooper (65).
KERRY: B Kealy; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, B McGuire, J Sherwood; A Maher, D Moran; J Lyne, M Geaney, D Walsh; BJ Keane, J O’Donoghue, S O’Brien.
Subs: A O’Mahony for M Geaney (48); C Cox for J Lyne (54); D Culhane for J Sherwood (58); P Geaney for D Walsh (62); P Kilkenny for P Murphy (67); A Fitzgerald for P Crowley (70).
Ref: D Coldrick (Meath)
Ciaran Kilkenny’s sweeping crossfield kick set up Jack McCaffrey for the winning point in the 66th minute.
Talk of the town
Nothing to do with who was playing; rather who wasn’t. Paul Galvin will be missed by Kerry and any genuine Gaelic football supporter.
Did that just happen?
The yellow card handed out to Aidan O’Mahony for simulation in second-half injury-time. An offence we’ve never seen cautioned before.
Best on show
Cormac Costello, so ravaged by injury last year, won three second half frees and kept Dublin in the game when they were otherwise shaky. Also set up Kevin McManamon for his goal. David Moran was the best of the four midfielders.
Black card watch
None to report and nothing close to a claim for one either.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s tactic of dropping all but one player back before Dublin’s 45-metre line for most of the first-half frustrated the home side. They could’ve done better with the extra man for almost the half an hour remaining and Jim Gavin had a better cavalry to call on from the bench.
The man in black
Both teams, more so Kerry in the second-half, could have genuine grievances with some of David Coldrick’s calls.
Kerry entertain Derry in Tralee next Sunday, the same afternoon Dublin making the short spin to Mullingar to face Westmeath.
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