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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

Dramatic All-Ireland football final ends with Dublin and Kerry heading to a replay

A pulsating day of action at Croke Park.

Kerry's Adrian Spillane and Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley.
Kerry's Adrian Spillane and Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Dublin 1-16
Kerry 1-16

A MOMENT OF GAA history has been postponed, Dublin and Kerry will have to duel again to settle the issue of whether five-in-a-row can be achieved.

Dean Rock swung over an injury-time point to bring Dublin level and saw another shot at the death tail wide in the pursuit of a winner. The champions can breathe a sigh of relief at having another opportunity, forced to play with 14 men for a large chunk of this game and pushed all the way by a Kerry team who were ignited by Killian Spillane’s second-half goal.

Cast into the role of outsiders against a team that had marched to Sam Maguire glory for the last four seasons, Kerry almost claimed a famous triumph. They trailed by five points when Spillane cut in to drill home a left-foot shot in the 56th minute. That goal had a rousing effect for them, Tommy Walsh and the outstanding Sean O’Shea snapping over points to draw them level.

The finale was frenetic and thrilling with so much at stake. Rock popped over a free to push Dublin ahead 1-15 to 1-14 with 65 minutes on the clock. O’Shea clipped one over off his left immediately to draw Kerry level, Spillane nudged them in front. It was absorbing stuff yet there was only one further score in the game, supplied by the trusted right foot of Rock.

dean-rock-kicks-a-late-free-wide-to-win-the-game Dean Rock's late attempt to win the game for Dublin from a free. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The first half was dominated by a series of decisive moments. The setback of a missed penalty for Kerry, the boost of a cracking goal for Dublin and then a red card flashed at  Cooper as the half ended to create some intrigue.

Paul Geaney was entrusted with the responsibility of the early spot kick but he banged in a shot at mid height that Stephen Cluxton clawed any impressively. Sean O’Shea converted the resultant ’45 but it felt an opportunity lost for Kerry, just like when Geaney had been denied a goal earlier by a defensive block on the line.

Dublin made no mistake when their chance arose, constructing a classic team move that stemmed from a marvellous Cluxton kick-out, featured a rousing Brian Howard catch and a clinical 18th minute finish by Jack McCaffrey to the net.

But if that was the launchpad for a period of Dublin dominance, they were rocked before the break with the dismissal of Cooper, a second yellow after a series of fouls on David Clifford.

james-mccarthy-and-tommy-walsh-after-the-game James McCarthy and Tommy Walsh after the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It had looked like Dublin were gaining a firm grip on proceedings when they went five ahead on a few occasions in the opening period. Their advantage was 1-9 to 0-8 at the interval yet the dismissal of Cooper coloured their view. 

They seemed to weather a Kerry storm in the second half, striking over four out of five points that the game produced between the 48th and 55th minutes. Cluxton had also produced a stunning fingertip save to send a crashing shot from Paul Murphy onto the crossbar.

But then Spillane netted and Dublin were forced to dig deep to rescue a draw. They almost grabbed a victory, Kerry will have their own regrets at not sealing the deal. We’ll return to watch them both again on 14 September.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-10 (0-6f, 0-1 ’45), Jack McCaffrey 1-3, Paul Mannion 0-2, Con O’Callaghan 0-1.

Scorers for Kerry: Sean O’Shea 0-10 (0-4f, 0-3 ’45), Killian Spillane 1-1, David Clifford 0-2, Gavin Crowley, Stephen O’Brien, Tommy Walsh 0-1 each.


1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells – captain)

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7. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
4. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
3. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)

5. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf)
6. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
2. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
9. Michael Darragh MacAuley (Ballyboden St. Enda’s)

12. Brian Howard (Raheny)
15. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)

14. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
13. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
11. Con Callaghan (Cuala)


26. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams) for MacAuley (52)
23. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna) for Small (blood) (57)
18. Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincent’s) for Howard (68)
19. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille) for Mannion (68)
22. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s) for Scully (70)


1. Shane Ryan (Rathmore)

2. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)
3. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)
4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Paul Murphy (Rathmore)
6. Gavin Crowley (Templenoe)
7. Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht)

8. David Moran (Kerins O’Rahilly’s)
24. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)

10. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)
11. Sean O’Shea (Kenmare)
9. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe)

13. David Clifford (Fossa)
14. Paul Geaney (Dingle)
12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare)


15. Killian Spillane (Templenoe) for Adrian Spillane (45)
19. Jack Sherwood (Firies) for White (49)
21. Tommy Walsh (Kerins O’Rahilly’s) for Ó Beaglaoich (53)
18. Jonathan Lyne (Killarney Legion) for Crowley (68)
20. Dara Moynihan (Spa) for Barry (inj) (72)
26. Mark Griffin (St Michael’s Foilmore) for O’Brien (76)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Croke Park

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