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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
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Dublin confirm their greatness, Kerry kick big chance away and potential retirements

5 talking points after Dublin defeated Kerry in the replay to complete the five-in-a-row.

1. Dublin confirm their greatness

THEY GUARDED AGAINST the five-in-a-row hype all year but finally Jim Gavin and his players can speak openly about their remarkable achievement. Wexford, Kerry (twice) and Kilkenny have all tried and failed to string together five All-Ireland crowns in succession.

dublin-team-celebrate Dublin celebrate their win. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Dublin went where no team have ever gone before and now must be declared as the greatest Gaelic football side in history, surpassing the great Golden Years Kerry team of the 1980s.   

The talk around population and financial advantages ought to be left for another day and this group should be celebrated for making history. Kerry brought them to brink in the drawn game but as they always do, Dublin learned their lessons and executed a plan on their second chance.

Some of the statistics around this team are mindblowing. Brian Fenton, Brian Howard, Niall Scully, Eoin Murchan and Con O’Callaghan have yet to experience losing a championship game with Dublin. Stephen Cluxton has now lifted six All-Irelands as captain, Jim Gavin has lost just one of his 48 championship games as Dublin boss. 

sean-oshea-dejected Sean O’Shea dejected. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

2. Kerry’s missed chances

Kerry got so much right again today but ultimately their poor day in front of the posts cost them. Just four players scored – Sean O’Shea (0-5), David Clifford (0-5), Paul Geaney (0-4) and Adrian Spillane (0-1).

Their shooting accuracy – 78% in the first-half – fell off a cliff after half-time and dropped to 27%. That sort of figure is not going to win most championship games, let alone one against the Dubs. 

They shot seven of their 10 wides in the second period, with David Moran (twice), Diarmuid O’Connor, Tom O’Sullivan, Geaney, Jack Barry, Stephen O’Brien, Spillane and Clifford all guilty of missed chances after the break.

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Like the first day, Kerry didn’t take any wild shots from outside the scoring zone, although Dublin’s defenders deserve credit for pressurising the shooters.

con-ocallaghan Dublin's Con O'Callaghan bursts past O'Sullivan. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

3. Dublin stars stand up

After scoring a grand total of 0-3 between them in the drawn game, Con O’Callaghan, Paul Mannion and Ciaran Kilkenny were on a different level tonight. They fired 0-12 between them, scoring 0-4 apiece. Kilkenny pulled the strings at centre-forward, constantly probing and directing the Dublin attack in his point guard role.

Kilkenny was flawless with four scores from four attempts in a display that should leave him in the running for Footballer of the Year. O’Callaghan might well be favourite for the big prize after clipping over 0-4 in a menacing showing at full-forward. Mannion converted four of his six strikes at the posts.

The trio gave an early indication of their mood when each of them had scored inside four minutes. The frightening thing is that O’Callaghan is just 23 while Kilkenny and Mannion are 26, we mightn’t have even seen the best of them yet. 

eoin-murchan-celebrates-after-scoring-a-goal Eoin Murchan celebrates after scoring the game's only goal. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

4. Murchan’s goal 

Dublin have a habit of working pre-planned moves from the throw-in and so it transpired here.

Kilkenny tends to leave the middle channel open with a purposeful run towards the ball. Crowley took the bait, leaving an ocean of space for Murchan to race into once he won the break off David Moran’s flick.

Moran was left chasing the diminutive Na Fianna man and the thought of dragging him to ground and taking a black card surely crossed his mind. In the end, Murchan took a few extra steps than permitted – although referees usually are more lenient when this happens mid-tackle – and brilliantly punted past Shane Ryan. 

The ball was in the net 10 seconds after the throw-up, sending the Dubs three clear. O’Callaghan tagged on a point from the next attack and Dublin never relinquished their lead from there.  

kevin-mcmanamon-celebrates-with-the-sam-maguire-after-the-game Dublin's Kevin McManamon celebrates with the Sam Maguire after the game. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

5. Potential retirements

The five-in-a-row feels like a natural point in time for a number of Dublin’s players to hang up their boots. There may be a host of retirements in the Sky Blue camp over the winter.

Gavin has constantly revitalised the first 15, so Stephen Cluxton (37) is the only starter in danger of stepping away – but good luck trying to predict his next move.

Bernard Brogan (35), Eoghan O’Gara (33), Kevin McManamon (32), Paddy Andrews (31) and Darren Daly (32) are the most likely to retire given their reduced roles in the past couple of seasons.

Next in line are Michael Darragh Macauley (33), Cian O’Sullivan (31) and Philly McMahon (32), who’ve all battled injury in their advancing years but may yet decide to continue.

Gavin gave little away in his post-game press conference, but he too could decide this is the perfect time to retire as Dublin manager or equally he might opt to remain in charge to continue their dominance.

All will become clear in the coming weeks and months but this squad could undergo a major facelift before the 2020 season.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Croke Park

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