Kildare captain Aaron Browne lifts the cup after the EirGrid Leinster GAA Football U20 Championship Final match between Dublin and Kildare at MW Hire O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois.
Kildare captain Aaron Browne lifts the cup after the EirGrid Leinster GAA Football U20 Championship Final match between Dublin and Kildare at MW Hire O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. 

Kildare edge out Dublin in Leinster U-20 Football Final


EirGrid Leinster U-20 football championship final

KILDARE 0-17 DUBLIN 0-15

By Paul Keane at MW Hire O'Moore Park, Portlaoise

Never say die Kildare inflicted another punishing underage provincial defeat on Dublin, holding firm in testing circumstances in Portlaoise to claim a first EirGrid Leinster U-20 football title since 2018.

When these teams met three years ago at the minor grade, it took extra-time and almost 100 minutes of action for Kildare to prevail. This time around, they required just 60-odd minutes to claim their 12th title though it was no less fascinating as they kept a strong Dublin side at arm's length for the duration of an absorbing contest.

Wing-forward Shane Farrell was Man of the Match for Kildare while Adam Fanning and Eoin Bagnall each contributed 0-4 though it was substitutes Darragh Swords and James Dalton that kicked the crucial late points.

Kildare led by three after Swords' 52nd minute point though Dublin got it back to a one-point game with scores from Fionn Murray and Luke Breathnach.

Agonisingly for Dublin, Conor Tyrrell and Senan Forker both had chances to equalise late on though failed to convert and Kildare punished them on the break for the insurance score in the 63rd minute from Dalton, sealing a two-point win.

They will advance now to the All-Ireland series and a semi-final clash with Sligo on the weekend of May 7/8, dreaming of repeating their All-Ireland triumph of four years ago.

Dublin's form was strikingly patchy throughout the provincial campaign, coming from behind to bury Westmeath with a second-half onslaught in the quarter-final, demolishing Meath in the first-half before proceeding to lose the second-half of that game and starting particularly slowly this time.

In what was Dublin's ninth final in a row at this grade, they leaked the first score after just 15 seconds to Fanning and fell four points down inside 10 minutes as Kildare raced 0-5 to 0-1 clear.

Wing-back Tommy Gill burst forward for two terrific points for Kildare and later set up Daniel Lynam for a 16th minute point that left Brian Flanagan's side 0-6 to 0-2 up.

It was at that stage that Dublin suddenly burst into life and, true to the pattern of their campaign, when they got going they excelled.

Ryan O'Dwyer began a blitz of scoring that saw Dublin turn the game on its head as they outscored Kildare by 0-6 to 0-2 for the remainder of the half, tying it up at 0-8 apiece at the interval.

It was high quality fare with a series of excellent scores picked off by either side.

Kildare full-forward Fanning was a central figure. His first-half contributions amounted to the following; three points from play, a shot off the post, a wide and another effort that dropped short. Dublin's Harry Donaghy had his hands full tracking the powerful Clane forward.

When Dublin finally got going, O'Dwyer was a central figure and with 1-2 and 1-6 tallies already registered in the campaign, he added another 0-3 by half-time. One of those scores was from a free that he won and the other two were from open play, one off his right foot, the other off his left.

The second-half was even more entertaining, Dublin fighting back to level terms on three occasions with scores from Murray and Breathnach.

They never managed to take the lead though as Kildare consistently responded with points to stay just about ahead, Bagnall and Farrell coming to the fore in this period.

Kildare supporters thought they had finally weathered the Dublin storm when Swords opened up a three-point gap but, unsurprisingly, it would go right to the wire.

Kildare scorers: Adam Fanning 0-4, Eoin Bagnall 0-4 (0-2f), Tommy Gill 0-2, Daniel Lynam 0-2, Aaron Browne 0-1 (1m), Cormac Barker 0-1 (0-1f), Shane Farrell 0-1, Darragh Swords 0-1, James Dalton 0-1.

Dublin scorers: Fionn Murray 0-5 (0-3f), Luke Breathnach 0-5, Ryan O'Dwyer 0-3 (0-1f), Sean Kinsella 0-1, David O'Dowd 0-1.

Kildare: Cormac Barker; Harry O'Neill, Dean O'Donoghue, Mark Maguire; Tommy Gill, James McGrath, Ryan Burke; Brendan Gibbons, Luke Killian; Aedan Boyle, Daniel Lynam, Shane Farrell; Eoin Bagnall, Adam Fanning, Aaron Browne.

Subs: Niall O'Regan for Boyle 41, Darragh Swords for Browne 49, Jack McKevitt for Burke 53, Adam Conneely for Gibbons 58, James Dalton for Fanning 62.

Dublin: Hugh O'Sullivan; Theo Clancy, Harry Donaghy, Kieran Conroy; Conor Tyrrell, Greg McEneaney, David O'Dowd; Adam Waddick, Senan Forker; Tom Brennan, Fionn Murray, Seamus Smith; Ryan O'Dwyer, Luke Breathnach, Sean Kinsella.

Subs: Peter Duffy for Smith 36, Ronan Cullen for Brennan 36, Luke Ward for Kinsella 44, Ben Millist for Donaghy 46.

Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).