Dublin are toast of Fair City as Kerry crash in All-Ireland final
Kerry 0-9 Dublin 0-12
After referee David Coldrick threw his arms wide and puffed into his whistle to bring an underwhelming All-Ireland final - at the end of a frankly underwhelming Championship season - to a close, the traditional Dublin victory folderol was observed.
Blue smoke belched from Hill 16 while the crowd joined in for a few bars of 'Molly Malone', until the opening riffs of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' caught the mood and sent it skywards. All the usual theories instantly sprouted up that they are on the cusp of world domination again, but that's said about every team that ends up Kings in September.
The genesis of their latest All-Ireland can be traced back a few short weeks ago and how the Metropolitans got home just in time before they were snagged by Mayo. A second game for their replay brought them to a pitch they hadn't required to reach all year and was the major difference against a team that had been waiting about for a full month without a match.
That head start set Dublin off like a locomotive as they hit the first two scores of the game. They had a sight on goal when after Paul Flynn won a break from a Kerry kickout, the ball came to Dean Rock, but the Ballymun man fluffed the chance.
And while conditions made the life of Coldrick and several players exceptionally difficult, Dublin executed the skills under pressure better. Kerry will be furious that having scrambled Stephen Cluxton's brain by pushing up touch-tight on his kickouts, they conceded the last four points of the half to make it 0-8 to 0-4 in favour of the Dubs at half-time.
It was reflected in their body language as they left the playing surface, left like a skating rink as the rain fell throughout the first half, rendering every shimmy as a prisoner of the Gods.
Kerry solemnly trudged down the tunnel as the Dubs bounced and buzzed, knocking off the walls and Kerrymen as they went, sickening them with their positivity.
You might have thought that Kerry would rouse up a little more desperation to their efforts. After all, this ended as Colm Cooper's fifth losing final, while other stalwarts like Aidan O'Mahony have now lost four.
So how do you explain the static nature of the Kerry forward unit on the day? Or the lack of sharpness among their attackers in how when Cluxton had his kickouts decoded, they immediately surrendered to a turnover?
In examining this game, credit must go to Dublin manager Jim Gavin. About the same amount of praise and garlands that was placed on Eamonn Fitzmaurice's shoulders last year in beating Donegal, was matched by the negative coverage of Gavin's tactics against the same opposition.
Gone is the lyrical rhetoric of upholding the finer traditions of the game. In its place comes clear headed pragmatism, the type that wins multiple All-Irelands.
The type that draws 13 men behind the ball when required and the type that identifies a clever, athletic player in Cian O'Sullivan and re-invents him as a 24-Carat sweeper.
Throughout, Dublin shaded the crucial match-ups. Any time Paddy Andrews was serviced with ball, he had far too much raw strength for Fionn Fitzgerald. Elsewhere, Philly McMahon exploited Cooper's defensive frailties and kept him on the back foot.
Fitzmaurice rolled the dice. Darran O'Sullivan came on at half-time and caused genuine concern as they trimmed the lead back to two.
But with the lead, Dublin could control the flow also. Diarmuid Connolly made a break and drew two frees from marker Peter Crowley that yielded one point from Bernard Brogan.
Kerry needed a goal to change the complexion and had their chances. O'Sullivan played a nice give-go with Cooper but blazed wide. He instantly made up for this with his second point to leave just two in it as Kieran Donaghy, and later Paul Galvin came in to rousing cheers.
What set Dublin apart was their ability to manage time, killing the momentum of the game. When a free went their way, they would wait a while before wagging forward Cluxton, who missed in the 54th and 65th minutes, but took an eternity to get there. All this, while hitting a total of 10 wides in the second half.
Kerry might lament the fact that they should have been awarded a penalty for a clear foul on Donaghy on two occasions. Instead, Coldrick gave a hop ball that Donaghy fetched, slipped to Killian Young, who lost his footing when in front of goal. He tried to punch it onto to someone, anyone, but it came to the grateful arms of James McCarthy.
For a while after the game, as the Dubs fans sang their songs of shellfish, the Kerry management stood shell-shocked. Beaten deservedly. No complaints.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton 0-1, 1f, J Cooper, R O'Carroll, P McMahon 0-1; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey 0-1; B Fenton 0-1, D Bastick; P Flynn 0-2, D Connolly, C Kilkenny; P Andrews 0-1, D Rock 0-2, 2f, B Brogan 0-2, 1f. Subs: K McManamon for Rock (half-time), MD Macauley for Bastick (40m), M Fitzsimons for Cooper (48m), J Small for McCaffrey (57m) D Daly for O'Sullivan (61m), A Brogan 0-1, for Fenton (67m)
Yellow cards: Connolly (25m), McMahon (63m), O'Carroll (72m)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
KERRY: B Kealy; F Fitzgerald, A O'Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne 0-1, P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, D Moran; S O'Brien, J Buckley, D Walsh; C Cooper, P Geaney 0-2, J O'Donoghue 0-3. Subs: D O'Sullivan 0-2 for O'Brien (half-time), B Sheehan 0-1, 1f, for Buckley (43m), K Donaghy for Geaney (50m), P Galvin for Moran (56m), BJ Keane for O'Donoghue (61m)
Yellow cards: Donaghy (72m), Sheehan (73m)
Black cards: O'Mahony (58m, replaced by P Murphy)
Red cards: 0
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)