Leinster SFC Final
Despite a seventh Leinster title in a row in the bag, and a huge chunk of history made in the process, Dublin manager Jim Gavin wasn’t affording himself too much time to bask in the glory before shifting his sights to fresh targets.
The goal of a third consecutive All Ireland is now the Dubs’ aim and having disposed quite efficiently of Kildare at Croke Park it’s going to take a monumental effort from someone to stop them.
“For the current team it’s about being present in 2017 and provincial titles mean a lot to us,” said Gavin.
“We’ll certainly celebrate it tonight with our family and friends, that’s for sure, and then move on to the next challenge ahead.”
“I think the guys will look back on their careers, and Pat Gilroy too who came before me and his group of players who are no longer with us, they’ll take some satisfaction from today as well.”
Dublin stormed into a 2-3 to 0-1 lead after just 11 minutes and the signs looked very ominous for Cian O’Neill’s side, but to their credit they rallied with Dublin’s momentum affected by the black carding of Dean Rock, who’d claimed one of his side’s two early goals. James McCarthy raised Dublin’s other green flag.
But the Lilywhites responded superbly, and with some great football outscored the Dubs by 0-9 to 0-4 to drag themselves back into the game, and after such a bright start, Dublin’s lead at the break was just four points, 2-8 to 0-10.
But inspired by Con O’Callaghan, who took over the free taking duties from Rock, the favourites took control in the second half. O’Callaghan firing over eight second half points, as Dublin’s power and purpose came to the fore, especially in the third quarter as they opened up an unassailable 11-point lead.
Paddy Brophy grabbed a consolation goal for Kildare, but it mattered little but to reduce the final margin somewhat.
“I think overall to score 2-17 from play in the game was satisfying,” said Gavin. “But, certainly, after that good start, Kildare looked very impressive and came back strong at us. They got nine points in that second quarter to close it down to four at half-time.
“We knew going into the game what we’d seen of them in the National League and Championship so far in Leinster, they’ve been very impressive, very mobile and athletic. Technically very good, some fantastic fielders of the ball.
“We saw that if they got space they could do damage and they could have had a score in the second half but Stephen [Cluxton] pulled off a fantastic save.
“If they had gotten that then it might have been three points in it and the last period of the game could have had a different complexion.
“Thankfully he saved it and we went on to close out the game comfortably.”
Kildare manager Cian O’Neill paid tribute to Dublin after the game, saying: “I think in those periods where they really hurt us, that five or six minute period in the first half and the first ten of the second-half, it just showed that when they really pushed on to another we were chasing our tails a small bit for those periods.
“You know, not only are they a great team, they’ve great experience. Even the players they bring off the bench, they have all that in their locker.
“Their execution was just ruthless. It was the high standard you would expect of champions. Ours was well below par.”
Scorers for Dublin: Con O’Callaghan 0-12 (0-6f), Dean Rock 1-0, James McCarthy 1-0, Bernard Brogan 0-5, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-2, Paul Mannion 0-1, Paddy Andrews 0-1, Shane Carthy 0-1, Brian Howard 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Paddy Brophy 1-3 (0-1f), Kevin Feely 0-5 (0-4f), Daniel Flynn 0-2, Cathal McNally 0-2, Keith Cribbin 0-1, David Slattery 0-1, Johnny Byrne 0-1, Niall Kelly 0-1, Fionn Dowling 0-1.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Philly McMahon, Cian O’Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons; Eric Lowndes, John Small, Jack McCaffrey; James McCarthy, Brian Fenton; Con O’Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny, Niall Scully; Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews, Dean Rock. Subs: Bernard Brogan for Rock (24, black card), Shane Carthy for Scully (47), Darren Daly for McMahon (48), Kevin McManamon for Andrews (52), David Byrne for O’Sullivan (58), Brian Howard for Fenton (67).
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady, Ollie Lyons, David Hyland; Keith Cribbin, Eoin Doyle, Johnny Byrne; Kevin Feely, Tommy Mooolick; David Slattery, Niall Kelly, Fergal Conway; Cathal McNally, Daniel Flynn, Paddy Brophy. Subs: Paul Cribbin for Conway (44), Fionn Dowling for Moolick (49), Peter Kelly for Doyle (52), B McCormack for McNally (57), Emmet Bolton for Byrne (63), Eamonn Callaghan for Feely (64, black card).