Dublin win record seventh Leinster SFC title in a row
Leinster Senior Football Championship Final
DUBLIN 2-23 KILDARE 1-17
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Con O'Callaghan confirmed his big game credentials for Dublin with a brilliant dozen points as the All-Ireland holders cruised to a record seventh consecutive Leinster title success.
The Cuala man took over the free-taking duties from Dean Rock, who was black carded after scoring an early goal, but delivered brilliantly in open play too.
The latest medal caps a thrilling season for the 21-year-old who has already claimed an All-Ireland U-21 win with Dublin and an AIB club hurling title with his club, Cuala.
He stood up just when his team needed him and fired eight second-half points having only led by four at the break.
Dublin had surged nine clear early on only for Kildare to hint at a famous win as they cut that deficit to just four at the break with a strong second quarter display.
That was as good as it got for Cian O'Neill's Lilywhites though who hit a creditable 1-17 yet were still blown away by the ferocity of Dublin's second-half performance.
Bernard Brogan replaced All-Star Rock and sniped five points while Ciaran Kilkenny had another strong game.
Dublin's reward is an All-Ireland quarter-final tie on August 5 while Kildare will be hopeful of picking up a win in the final round of qualifiers.
Kildare came to Croke Park burdened by a terrible record at the Jones Road venue having won just five of their previous 20 league and Championship games there.
Their most recent defeat there came against Galway in the Division 2 league final while they suffered high profile defeats to Clare and Westmeath in 2016.
Their Croke Park record against Dublin specifically was dismal too with a whopping 56 points between the teams in their previous four meetings at GAA headquarters.
So when Dublin roared into a 2-3 to 0-1 lead after just 11 minutes it looked ominous to say the least for Cian O'Neill's side.
Paul Mannion, Kilkenny and O'Callaghan all scored points before Kilkenny picked out the onrushing Rock with a clever fist pass and the Ballymun man slotted low to the left corner.
Moments later Kilkenny was on the attack again and played a neat one-two with McCarthy who cut inside his man and slid a low shot beneath Mark Donnellan in the Kildare goals.
O'Callaghan's second point in the 18th minute put Dublin 2-4 to 0-1 up and it was looking like predictions of another double digit winning margin for the holders was spot on.
Kildare's response was terrific though and they opened up with some stunning football before half-time, outscoring Dublin by 0-9 to 0-4 to haul themselves right back into the contest.
It was a four-in-a-row of points from Cathal McNally, 2, Keith Cribbin and Kevin Feely that begun the fight-back and suddenly Kildare had found some momentum.
Defender Johnny Byrne burst upfield for another Kildare score and ex-soccer professional Feely closed out the half with a great point from long range to leave Dublin just 2-8 to 0-10 ahead.
Kildare will be happy with 1-17 return overall but they just couldn't match Dublin's power and purpose in the second-half.
Dublin were particularly efficient in the third quarter and kicked a series of points from O'Callaghan, Brogan, Paddy Andrews and Kilkenny to open up an 11-point lead.
Sky Blues boss Jim Gavin began to roll on his substitutes and Kevin MacManamon typically troubled Kildare's defence while Shane Carthy and Brian Howard also pointed.
Kildare refused to throw in the towel and picked off some neat points from Feely, Fionn Dowling and Brophy before the latter rose high to claim possession and slam in an injury-time consolation goal.
*Scorers for Dublin: *Con O'Callaghan 0-12 (0-6f), Dean Rock 1-0, James McCarthy 1-0, Bernard Brogan 0-5, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-2, Paul Mannion 0-1, Paddy Andrews 0-1, Shane Carthy 0-1, Brian Howard 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Paddy Brophy 1-3 (0-1f), Kevin Feely 0-5 (0-4f), Daniel Flynn 0-2, Cathal McNally 0-2, Keith Cribbin 0-1, David Slattery 0-1, Johnny Byrne 0-1, Niall Kelly 0-1, Fionn Dowling 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Philly McMahon, Cian O'Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons; Eric Lowndes, John Small, Jack McCaffrey; James McCarthy, Brian Fenton; Con O'Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny, Niall Scully; Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews, Dean Rock. Subs: Bernard Brogan for Rock (24, black card), Shane Carthy for Scully (47), Darren Daly for McMahon (48), Kevin McManamon for Andrews (52), David Byrne for O'Sullivan (58), Brian Howard for Fenton (67).
KILDARE: *Mark Donnellan; Mick O'Grady, Ollie Lyons, David Hyland; Keith Cribbin, Eoin Doyle, Johnny Byrne; Kevin Feely, Tommy Mooolick; David Slattery, Niall Kelly, Fergal Conway; Cathal McNally, Daniel Flynn, Paddy Brophy. *Subs: Paul Cribbin for Conway (44), Fionn Dowling for Moolick (49), Peter Kelly for Doyle (52), B McCormack for McNally (57), Emmet Bolton for Byrne (63), Eamonn Callaghan for Feely (64, black card).
*Referee: *Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).