DUBLIN 5-17 KILDARE 1-15
By John Harrington & Ben O’Keeffe at Croke Park
Kildare were swept away by a deluge of Dublin goals in today’s one-sided Leinster SFC Final at Croke Park.
The flood-gates opened as soon as the fifth minute when Ciaran Kilkenny raised the first green flag, and the rampant Dubs went on to score four more in the first half as the Lilywhites wilted.
It was formidable display of scoring power by a team that now clearly has the bit between their teeth again after League campaign that saw them relegated from Division 1.
There was so much to admire about their work in this match.
Eoin Murchan and Lee Gannon raided from the corner-back positions to great effect, the muscular half-back line of Small, Howard, and McCarthy were rock-solid, Brian Fenton lorded it again in midfield, and Kilkenny, Cormac Costello, and Con O’Callaghan tore the Kildare defence to shreds.
Sean Bugler played a big part too in the first-half demolition job, assisting two of the goals and playing a big part in the creation of another.
You knew it wasn’t going to be Kildare’s day when a good deal of ill-luck played its part in Dublin’s second goal.
Dean Rock’s attempt for a point came back off the post and straight into the grateful arms of Cormac Costello who finished smartly.
That goal saw Costello, who came into the match with 99 championship points to his name, join the 100 club.
His second goal came nine minutes later and was a thing of beauty. He sent Mick O’Grady and Mark Donnellan flying in the wrong direction with a swivel of his hips before smashing the ball to the back of the net.
The fourth came from an unlikely source, wing-back John Small, who buried a low drive to the bottom left-hand corner after racing onto a perfectly timed pass from Bugler.
Dublin’s fifth was another beautifully executed score, but given away all too easily again from a Kildare point of view.
Eoin Murchan was allowed to race untroubled deep into Kildare territory before finding Costello on the edge of the square with an accurate foot-pass.
The corner-forward popped it off to the on-rushing O’Callaghan who finished simply to push Dublin 5-5 to 0-4 ahead.
Daniel Flynn, Kevin Feely, and Ben McCormack did their best to keep Kildare in the fight, but it was already damage limitation.
The final score of the half was a second point of an enterprising performance by Lee Gannon, and Dublin went in at the break with a handsome 16-point lead.
Kildare, to their credit, came out fighting in the second-half.
McCormack continued to do his best to give them some momentum, scoring his third point from play of the day, and Jimmy Hyland took the bare look off the scoreboard with a goal after 50 minutes.
It was a well-constructed score too, with Daniel Flynn and Kevin Flynn combining well to set Hyland up for the palmed finish.
Dublin could afford to ease off the gas in the second-half, but they still pushed their foot to the pedal occasionally. Con O’Callaghan, in particular, remaining a potent force in attack, with his third point from play pushing Dublin 5-12 to 1-11 ahead.
Dessie Farrell’s team coasted to the finish from there to claim a 12th Leinster title in a row.
Such was the emphatic manner in which they won it, their supporters will now believe the Sam Maguire Cup is firmly in their sights again.
Scorers for Dublin: Con O’Callaghan 1-5 (mark), Cormac Costello 2-1, Dean Rock 0-4 (4f), Ciaran Kilkenny 1-0, John Small 1-0, Brian Fenton 0-3, Lee Gannon 0-2, Aaron Byrne 0-1, Niall Scully 0-1
Scorers for Kildare: Jimmy Hyland 1-4 (3f), Ben McCormack 0-5 (1 mark), Kevin Feeley 0-2 (1 mark), Darragh Kirwan, Kevin Flynn, Paul Cribbin, Paddy Woodgate (free) all 0-1
DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Eoin Murchan, Michael Fitzsimons, Lee Gannon; John Small, Brian Howard, James McCarthy; Brian Fenton, Tom Lahiff; Sean Bugler, Ciaran Kilkenny, Lorcan O’Dell; Cormac Costello, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock. Subs: Niall Scully for Lorcan O’Dell (46), Cian Murphy for Eoin Murchan (51), Aaron Byrne for Dean Rock (60), Jonny Cooper for Tom Lahiff (65), Brian O’Leary for Cormac Costello (70)
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady, Shea Ryan, Ryan Houlihan; Tony Archbold, James Murray, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely, Kevin O’Callaghan; Alex Beirne, Ben McCormack, Paul Cribbin; Darragh Kirwan, Daniel Flynn, Jimmy Hyland. Subs: David Hyland for James Murray, Paddy Woodgate for Darragh Kirwan (both ht), Paddy McDermott for Paul Cribbin (48), Darragh Malone for Tony Archbold (60), Fergal Conway for Alex Beirne (68)
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)