Match Report: NFL – Division 1 Final
By Larry Cooney
in Croke Park
Dublin duly claimed their fourth league title in a row with a comfortable eleven point victory over Kerry.
In a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final the result was never in doubt after a Paul Flynn goal put the Dubs seven points clear with three minutes of normal time remaining although the real game-changer was undoubtedly the second-half dismissal of Kerry centre back Aidan O’Mahony. A total of 2-14 of Dublin’s total last Sunday was also scored from open play. While the red card was a pivotal moment the floodgates opened as Kerry tired.
Dean Rock – a late replacement for Paddy Andrews in the Dublin line-out clipped over the opening point after just ninety seconds and Kilkenny added a second after O’Brien had equalised.
O’Brien tied the scores again on 11 minutes and Peter Crowley surged forward five minutes later to kick the Kingdom ahead for the first time. Rock’s excellent free was followed by an exchange between the two Coopers: Colm sold an outrageous dummy before lofting a trademark strike between the Hill 16 uprights but Dubs full back Jonny equalised within seconds – 0-4 each after twenty minutes.
Kilkenny’s second super strike had the holders ahead again on twenty-two minutes but Kerry were level when O’Sullivan blazed a shot over the bar from a difficult angle moments later.
Bryan Sheehan’s free was cancelled out by quickfire points from Bernard Brogan and Brian Fenton, before the former pointed off his left foot to leave just two between them for the first time, 0-8 to 0-6 – an advantage that would not be relinquished.
Brogan swung over his third four minutes from the and Sheehan’s second converted free meant they were two up at the break. Diarmuid Connolly extended Dublin’s lead to three within ten seconds of the resumption and Rock popped over a free on thirty-eight minutes after Shane Enright (yellow) caught John Small.
The Kingdom rallied with points from Crowley, Kieran Donaghy and O’Sullivan but Rock replied with a free in the 48th minute to re-establish the lead. But then the Munster champions were reduced to 14 men in the 50th minute when O’Mahony was shown a straight red for an incident involving Jonny Cooper off the ball and Paul Murphy halved the gap before Dublin moved three ahead with points from sub Kevin McManamon and a Rock penalty.
Sheehan (free) and Brogan pointed at either end; substitute Cormac Costello added the insurance point; and Flynn smashed home the games’s opening goal after Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy misplaced his short kick-out straight to him in the 66th minute.
McManamon claimed his second before late substitute Lowndes made no mistake with a blistering shot to the roof of the net in the third minute of added time to close the scoring on a historic, record-breaking day at GAA Headquarters.
Kieran Donaghy might have been awarded a late penalty but referee Eddie Kinsella ignored his claims. But the day belonged to Dublin who have now extended their unbeaten run to twenty-two and still hold every piece of silverware available. It’s already looking ominous for other championship contenders as the Dubs continue to monopolise the game.