Allianz FL D1: Dublin deliver polished performance
Allianz Football League Division One
DUBLIN 2-17 KERRY 0-11
By Paul Brennan at Croke Park
Dublin claimed a fine crushing 12-point defeat of defending League champions Kerry in a game that started out tight and spiky before the All-Ireland champions blitzed Kerry with a dominant second half display.
The result leaves Dublin with one foot in the final against Galway, who have already booked their place in the top two in the division. The result, meanwhile, means Kerry will need at least one more win from their last two games to preserve their Division One status.
After a mixed start to their campaign, the champions would have wanted this match to really check the progress of their younger players against the All-Ireland champions, but Eamonn Fitzmaurice left Croke Park with a head full of questions and, possibly, concerns despite putting a brave face on this defeat.
For Dublin it seemed business as usual, and they have the benefit of two regular season games now - including a trip to Galway - as they look to win a fifth League title in six years.
Goals either side of the interval from Niall Scully and Ciaran Kilkenny secured this Dublin win - their biggest of the league - as they swept Kerry aside after they hit their stride early in the second half, with the last quarter petering out as Kerry's resistance collapsed completely.
Scully's goal separated the sides at half time, 1-8 to 0-8, after a testy opening half in front of a 24,026 crowd on a cool afternoon.
That first half started with all three Kerry inside forwards scoring from play inside the first five minutes and ended with black cards for Kerry midfielder Barry O'Sullivan and Dublin defender John Small within a minute of each other at the end of the half.
In between both teams tried to get a stranglehold on a game that Kerry had to win to keep their title defence alive, and those early points from play from David Clifford, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Geaney game them an encouraging start.
A Sean O'Shea point edged Kerry 0-4 to 0-1 ahead by the ninth minute before Ciaran Kilkenny landed two points in quick succession to bring Dublin back into it.
Dean Rock almost goaled from a deft chip over Shane Murphy but was just wide as Dublin moved up a gear, and after Clifford and Rock (free) swapped points, Paul Geaney hit the Dublin post with Kevin McCarthy tidying up from the rebound to make it 0-6 to 0-4 after 17 minutes.
Three minutes later Dublin were ahead after Scully palm Shane Carthy's pass to the Kerry net after a sweeping counter-attack, and Dublin wouldn't be behind again after that.
Early points from Paddy Andrews and Paddy Small put Dublin four ahead and when Kilkenny trickled the ball over the goal-line after Murphy had saved his an initial effort it was a case of how much Dublin could win by.
Kerry went 29 minutes without a score before Micheal Burns pointed their ninth in the 54th minute, at which stage Dublin led 2-14 to 0-9, and Jim Gavin's team eased to a 12-point victory that leaves Kerry needing a win against Kildare or Tyrone to avoid relegation problems, with Paul Geaney and Sean O'Shea picking up injuries that leave them doubtful for Kildare's visit next Saturday.
Scorers for Dublin: Ciaran Kilkenny 1-3, Dean Rock 0-4 (3fs), Niall Scully 1-1, Paddy Andrews 0-3, Colm Basquel 0-2, Jonny Cooper 0-1, Paddy Small 0-1, Philly McMahon 0-1, Cormac Costello 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: DavidClifford 0-4 (2fs), Kevin McCarthy 0-2, Micheal Burns 0-2, Sean O'Shea 0-1, Paul Geaney 0-1, Michael Geaney 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton, Jonny Cooper, David Byrne, Eric Lowndes, James McCarthy, Cian O'Sullivan, John Small, Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley, Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Howard, Paddy Andrews, Dean Rock, Colm Basquel
Subs: Paddy Small for S Carthy (31), Philly McMahon for J Small (black card, HT), Ciaran Reddin for P Small (50, blood), Paddy Small for D Rock (59), Andrew McGowan for C O'Sullivan (64, inj), Cormac Costello for C Kilkenny (68), Emmet Ó Conghaile for B Fenton (68).
KERRY: Shane Murphy, Shane Enright, Jason Foley, Ronan Shanahan, Paul Murphy, Peter Crowley, Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Jack Barry, Barry O’Sullivan, Micheál Burns, Séan O’Shea, Adrian Spillane, David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Kevin McCarthy.
Subs: Éanna Ó Conchúir for B O'Sullivan (black card, 34 mins), Barry John Keane for P Geaney (inj, HT), Michael Geaney for S O'Shea (inj, HT), Fionn Fitzgerald for K McCarthy (49), Daithi Casey for M Burns (64).
REFEREE: Ciaran Brannigan (Down).