Reigning All Ireland Champions Dublin put in a powerful second half to beat Kerry by two points in Croke Park this afternoon and will now have the chance to win back to back titles for the first time since the 70’s when they take on Mayo in three weeks time.
It was hearts in the mouth time today though as a poor last quarter of the first half from Jim Gavin’s men gave Kerry a five point lead at the break.
Dublin had dominated the opening twenty four minutes of the first half and should have been much further ahead than 0-09 to 0-04 score line.
Dean Rock had been metronomic with his free taking and Connolly, Brogan and McManamon hit some excellent points.
But a really poor kick out from Cluxton with five to go to the break turned the game on its head, Kerry intercepted the ball and Darran O’Sullivan finished the ball to the back of the net and Kerry undeservedly were back in the game.
That kick out seemed to rattle Cluxton as he hit the next one straight over the sideline and Kerry now had there tails up.
Two minutes into injury time it got much worse for Dublin when a high ball into the square wasn’t dealt with and although it looked like Cluxton had been fouled, he effort to keep the ball from crossing the line was in vain as the umpire raised the green flag. At that point it was a relief for Dublin to hear the half time whistle to get back to the dressing room and regroup.
And regroup they did Dublin out scored Kerry by six points to one in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. Three placed balls from Rock and two from play from Brogan and Fenton.
But Kerry weren’t finished and hit three on the bounce including an good point from Paul Geaney. Another Rock free was followed by a Paul Murphy point from Kerry but at this stage Dublin where turning the screw and Kerry were starting to struggle for possession.
And that pressure counted as Jim Gavin’s men hit four points in a row, Philly McMahon broke forward to score a cracking point from the right, that wa followed by two Dean Rock frees as Kerry were forced to foul to stop Dublin getting in for a goal.
And then came one of the scores of the game from Kevin McManamon brought the sides level with five minutes to play. Kerry had nothing left and Dublin turned the ball over with ease and counter attacked with menace.
The Hill expected and the boys in blue delivered, O’Gara on as a second half substitute won the ball deep in Kerry territory, turned inside two Kerry defenders to create space, took a quick look at the posts and planted the ball sweetly over the black spot to give Dublin the lead.
Kerry went on the attack but Dublin once again turned the ball over in their defence and broke forward. The ball ended up with who else but Diarmuid Connolly, he twisted and swerved past a glut of Kerry players and hit the sweetest of strikes straight over the bar, GAME OVER.
It was a stern test that will serve Dublin well heading into the final, Gavin will have plenty to work for the next three weeks, the perfect way to go into an All Ireland Final.
Dean Rock 0-12
Diarmuid Connolly 0-03
Bernard Brogan 0-02
Kevin McManamon 0-02
Brian Fenton 0-01
Philly McMahon 0-01
Eoghan O’Gara 0-01
Paul Geaney 1-04
Colm Cooper 0-05
Darren O’Sullivan 1-00
David Moran 0-01
Barry John Keane 0-01
James O’Donoghue 0-01
Paul Murphy 0-01
Stephen O’Brien 0-01