Leinster SFC: Dublin cruise to victory
Leinster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
DUBLIN 0-26 KILDARE 0-11
By Michael Devlin at Croke Park
The quality and efficiency of Jim Gavin’s Dublin All-Ireland champions was utterly exercised in this one-sided Leinster football semi-final.
Before this season Dublin had reached - and won - the Leinster final in 13 of the last 14 seasons, missing out only in 2010. For the ninth successive year they will contest the decider again, and they’ll be heavy favourites to retain the crown based on the evidence of this 15-point win over Kildare.
This was the Lilywhites’ fourth game of their provincial campaign, having beaten Wicklow and Longford after a replay. While they trailed by just four points at the break and created several gilt-edge goal chances, they failed to take any of them, and Dublin simply shifted through the gears to extend the gap over the course of the second half.
On a day where team captain Stephen Cluxton was marking his 100th Championship appearance, it was Cormac Costello and Paul Mannion who were the standout performers, the duo contributing 0-16 of Dublin’s total.
Kildare began the with the game’s first score through an Adam Tyrrell free but Dublin quickly got into gear, rattling off the next seven scores over a 12-minute period. Costello and Mannion found their range early on, while Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Fenton also registered points. Kildare keeper Mark Donnellan had to be alert to deny Costello a goal at his near post.
Despite that early ascendancy, some uncharacteristic handling errors and misplaced passes punctuated Dublin’s play, and a Neil Flynn free eventually stopped the rot for Kildare in the 14th minute. The lively Ben McCormack then added two fine points in quick succession as the visitors brought the gap back to three. Any brief momentum though was quelled by immediate scores at the other end by Costello and Con O’Callaghan, bringing the game to 0-9 to 0-4 after 23 minutes.
Kildare did threaten centurion Cluxton’s goal, with McCormack stealing a march along the end line only to have his shot smothered by the experienced Parnells’ man. Kilkenny and Costello scores were traded off with two fine points from Tyrrell, before Kildare full back Mick O’Grady found himself in sight of the posts to clip over the last point of the half. Advantage 0-11 to 0-7 to Dublin at the break.
A Costello free restarted the second half before McCormack had a major chance to reduce arrears for Kildare, but he blazed wide from the edge of the box when well-placed. Dublin moved the score to double scores with points from Mannion and Brian Howard. O’ Callaghan cancelled out a John O’Loughlin score, before Tyrrell landed another peach in the 48th minute.
Costello was still proving to be the dangerman at the other end for Dublin, and he popped over his seventh of the afternoon, O’Callaghan adding another soon after to push the gap out to eight points.
There was more danger in Cluxton’s penalty box when McCormack managed to recover from a stumble to transfer the ball to the onrushing Keith Cribbin, but his attempt on goal was batted away by the retreating Dublin full back line.
Another Mannion point took the game to 0-18 to 0-9 in the 52nd minute, as Jim Gavin brought on Philly McMahon and Paddy Small. The latter immediately got onto the scoresheet, while Costello, Mannion, Kilkenny and Fenton all added to their tallies. Kevin Feely and McCormack points at the other end did little to affect the pattern of the game as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
Donnellan saved a goal effort from Costello as the game petered out, the Whitehall man converting the resulting 45’. Mannion was on hand to tag on the remaining two scores late on, bringing his total to seven points from play, and Dublin’s routine performance was brought to close, with Meath awaiting in the final in a fortnight.
Scorers for Dublin: Cormac Costello 0-9 (2fs, 2 45’), Paul Mannion 0-7, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-3, Con O’Callaghan 0-3, Brian Fenton 0-2, Brian Howard 0-2, Paddy Small 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Adam Tyrrell 0-4 (1f), Ben McCormack 0-3, Neil Flynn 0-1 (1f), Mick O’Grady 0-1, John O’Loughlin 0-1, Kevin Feely 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton (c); David Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, John Small; James MCcarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh MacAuley; Niall Scully, Cormac Costello, Brian Howard; Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan, Paul Mannion.
Subs: Philly McMahon for C O’Sullivan (52); Paddy Small for D MacAuley (52); Darren Gavin for C. Kilkenny (62); Eoin Murchan for J. McCaffrey (62); Paddy Andrews for C. O’Callaghan (63); Rory O’Carroll for M. Fitzsimons (65)
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O’Grady; David Hyland; Peter Kelly, Eoin Doyle (c), Keith Cribbin; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; David Slattery, Chris Healy, Fergal Conway; Adam Tyrrell, Ben McCormack, Neil Flynn.
Subs: Kevin O’Callaghan for N. Flynn (28); Jimmy Hyland for C. Healy (blood sub) (34); Chris Healy for J. Hyland (HT), Cian O’Donoghue for T. Moolick (56), Hyland for Healy (58); Eoghan O’Flaherty for K. Cribbin (60); Conor Hartley for D. Slattery (66).
REFEREE: Conor Lane (Cork).