Paul Brennan reports from Austin Stack Park, Tralee
AND ON THEY go. Dublin’s unbeaten run stretches to a record equalling 34 games but Kerry – the joint holders of the record – pushed them every inch and second of the way, all the way in fact until Paul Mannion found a 74th and last minute equaliser for the visitors.
Dublin looked as rattled as they have ever been in this 34-game streak but they also proved why they have been unbeaten in two years and two weeks across league and championship.
When Donnchadh Walsh kicked wind-assisted Kerry into a two-point lead in the 70th minute the Dubs never blinked. Jim Gavin’s team is as implacable as their manager, and two minutes into the four additional, Dean Rock converted his ninth free of the evening.
In a frantic finish Dublin looked rocked as Kerry threw every fibre into preserving that 34-game unbeaten run set by their forebears in the 1920s and 30s, but Dublin probed and never panicked until the ball came to Mannion who nonchalantly slipped over the equaliser.
There was a championship atmosphere in Austin Stack Park, which began building two hours before throw in, and while the home side will have to make do with a league point when they might have felt they did enough to earn two, Kerry will take plenty from this performance.
They mightn’t have beaten Dublin but for the first time in five matches and 26 months they haven’t lost to them either. Eamonn Fitzmaurice might rue some poor play and wrong options from his players but he cannot fault their heart or industry here.
The first half saw minimal open football played in a bad-tempered opening 35 minutes that saw six yellow cards issued. Kerry fired an early warning shot across Dublin’s bow when Paul Geaney played Paul Murphy through in the fourth minute but he screwed his shot badly wide.
Each side wasted a dead ball chance before Peter Crowley gave Kerry the lead in the seventh minute, and Geaney scored the point of the half when he slid the ball over from an acute angle.
Dean Rock’s 48-metre free got Dublin off the mark but all the while tensions simmered and bubbled and occasionally came to the surface, with the yellow cards coming more frequent than the scores.
Geaney (free) and Conor McHugh exchanged scores as Kerry led 0-3 to 0-2 after 25 minutes, before David Moran had his goal-bound effort deflected out for a ’45′, which Kealy converted.
Three Rock frees followed in quick succession to hand Dublin the lead for the first time, 0-5 to 0-4, by the 34th minute, with Hurson working hard to keep both teams’ discipline in control.
Geaney and Stephen Cluxton picked up yellow cards for some wrestling in the Dublin goal, with the latter having to parry the former’s shot over the bar in the 36th minute to prevent a Kerry goal. As for much of the half, in every sense the sides couldn’t be separated, 0-5 apiece.
The first four scores of the second half were Kerry’s – Geaney (two), Moran and Kevin McCarthy – as Kerry led 0-9 to 0-5 after 50 minutes, but crucially the next six went Dublin’s way. Rock added two frees either side of a scramble in the Kerry goalmouth before McHugh and Eoghan O’Gara drew them level.
Two more Rock frees had Dublin two ahead on the hour mark, but Geaney added his sixth and seventh points to level it again. When Walsh’s point followed one from Barry John Keane it looked like Dublin’s run was over. Certainly it was under serious question, but somehow they found a way – they always seem to.
Dublin finished the final seconds with 14 men after Ciaran Kilkenny was booked a second time, and Dublin will look to take the record from Kerry next weekend against Roscommon in Croke Park.
Scorers for Kerry - Paul Geaney 0-7 (4f), Donnchadh Walsh 0-1, Peter Crowley 0-1, Brendan Kealy 0-1 ’45′, David Moran 0-1, Kevin McCarthy 0-1, Barry John Keane 0-1.
Scorers for Dublin - Dean Rock 0-9f, Conor McHugh 0-2, Eoghan O’Gara 0-1, Paul Mannion 0-1.
1. Brendan Kealy (Kilcummin)
2. Shane Enright (Tarbert)
3. Mark Griffin (St Michaels-Foilmore)
4. Ronan Shanahan (Austin Stacks)
5. Peter Crowley (captain) (Laune Rangers)
6. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)
7. Killian Young (Renard)
8. David Moran (Kerins O’Rahillys)
9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)
10. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe)
11. Paul Murphy (Rathmore)
12. Donnchadh Walsh (Cromane)
13. Kevin McCarthy (Kilcummin)
14. Paul Geaney (Dingle)
15. Jack Savage (Kerins O’Rahillys)
18. Jonathan Lyne (Killarney Legion) for S Enright (inj, 16 min)
20. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare) for J Savage (HT)
17. Barry John Keane (Kerins O’Rahillys) for Adrian Spillane (52 min)
19. Anthony Maher (Duagh) for J Barry (55 min)
21. Darran O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh-Glencar) for K McCarthy (61 min)
22. Michael Geaney (Dingle) for K Young (inj, 61 min)
1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)
2. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
4. David Byrne (St Olaf’s)
5. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens)
6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Eric Lowndes (St Peregrines)
8. Brian Fenton (Rahney)
9. Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
11. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
12. Shane B Carthy (St Vincent’s)
13. Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock)
17. Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s)
15. Conor McHugh (Na Fianna)
25. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes) for D Byrne (HT)
19. Paul Flynn (Fingallians) for N Scully (42 min)
22. Kevin McManamon (St Judes) for MD Macauley (45 mins)
14. Eoghan O’Gara (Templeogue Synge Street) for P Andrews (47 mins)
20. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes) for J Small (inj, 49 mins)
18. Bernard Brogan (St Oliver Plunketts / Eoghan Ruadh) for C McHugh (69 mins)
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)
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