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David Moran phenomenal as Kerry sack the Dublin empire to lift league crown

Kerry were narrow 0-20 to 1-16 winners in a stunning encounter that put an end to Dublin’s 36-game unbeaten run.

Kerry 0-20

Dublin 1-16

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

THIS WONDERFUL RIVALRY continues to blossom.

Fionn Fitzgerald lifts the trophy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Kerry put an end to Dublin’s two-year unbeaten run in dramatic circumstances at Croke Park, and picked up their first Division 1 league title since 2009 and a 20th overall.

Their mettle was tested time and time again but on this occasion Dublin couldn’t replicate their sequence of come-from-behind results against Tyrone, Donegal, Kerry three weeks ago and Monaghan.

And sure, it’s only the league. But before today Eamonn Fitzmaurice had only experienced one victory over Jim Gavin in their 10 league and championship meetings.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

When these sides clashed in Tralee, Kerry had Dublin by the throat on that occasion put failed to pull the trigger.

Paul Murphy’s late misplaced free cost his side on that occasion, but this time it was Dean Rock who was left with his head in his hands after his 74th minute pressurised placed ball from outside the 45 rebounded off the post.

Paul Mannion’s goal with nine minutes on the clock brought Dublin to within a point, but they couldn’t find that kick that we’ve witnessed so often in the past.

53,840 showed up to HQ for a repeat of last year’s decider, which Dublin won by 11 points. The Kerry team were noticeably more athletic than the side that was gunned down at HQ a year ago, with Ronan Shanahan, Jack Barry and McCarthy all putting in huge shifts.

Bernard Brogan reacts to a missed chance Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Colm Cooper’s retirement cast a shadow across the Kingdom this week, but becoming the first team to beat Dublin in 37 games is a stark reminder that there’s plenty of talent left at Fitzmaurice’s disposal.

Paul Mannion was electric after his introduction on 41 minutes, and along with the human wrecking ball Michael Darragh Macauley, they dragged Dublin back into the game.

Stephen Cluxton, Philly McMahon, James McCarthy and, in the first-half, Ciaran Kilkenny were Dublin’s stand-out players, but plenty of others were left wanting.

Paddy Andrews, Cian O’Sullivan and Paul Flynn were removed after largely ineffective displays, while Bernard Brogan and Brian Fenton were well below par.

Had Kerry failed to win this, they would have looked back ruefully at missed goal chances from Jack Barry and McCarthy in either half. The Dubs had Cluxton to thank for saving their bacon on both occasions.

Paul Murphy was outstanding as a sweeper in front of the Kerry full-back line, while Moran gave a heroic display at centre-field.

Jack Savage with Cian O’Sullivan and Philip McMahon Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Tadhg Morley was a colossus at six while the half-forward line of McCarthy, Michael Geaney and Donnchadh Walsh went through trojan worked and chipped in with 0-5 between them.

Geaney led the attack with real courage and deserved his stunning eight-point haul.

The first-half brought about a number of off-the-ball incidents that saw both sides pick up black cards. Kerry lost Jonathan Lyne for a drag down on Diarmuid Connolly, while the latter was black-carded for a cynical pull-down on Lyne’s replacement Gavin Crowley.

It was Connolly’s second black card in succession following dismissal against Monaghan last weekend.

James McCarthy and Donnchadh Walsh got into it under the Hill, and both were fortunate to escape punishment. Cian O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney had a heated clash on one side of the field as Dublin attacked with the ball at the far end.

James McCarthy and Donnchadh Walsh Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy with Donnchadh Walsh Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dublin led by 0-10 to 0-9 at half-time, with Ciaran Kilkenny pulling the strings at centre-forward. Kilkenny kicked two points in the opening period, as did Ciaran Reddin who has been Dublin’s most under-rated players in this league campaign.

Rock, who curiously kicked frees out of his hands in the first half, curled over a couple of frees but left one scoreable one behind him before the break.

Trailing on 21 minutes by 0-7 to 0-4, Kerry had gone 11 minutes without a score but finished the half by far the stronger. Moran (free), Geaney and Barry hit scores to set-up a big second-period.

Jonathan Lyne and Philip McMahon Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Geaney took the game by the scruff of the neck after the restart and kicked four of Kerry’s six unanswered points. It took Dublin 20 minutes to get their first score of the second-half through Mannion, but Kerry responded immediately through the excellent Michael Geaney.

The Hill heaved when Mannion goaled on 61 minutes after Macauley, another sub, ran the ball down the heart of the Kerry defence and slipped in the Kilmacud Crokes poacher.

A Geaney free and Moran effort edged Kerry ahead by 0-19 to 1-13 entering stoppage-time, but even the dogs in the street knew there would be a sting in Dublin’s tail.

Rock fired a brace of points and Mannion curled one over either side, but Bryan Sheehan’s 74th minute score sandwiched in between proved to be the difference.

Scorers for Kerry: Paul Geaney 0-8 (0-5f), David Moran 0-3 (0-1f), Michael Geaney and Donnchadh Walsh 0-2 each,  Kevin McCarthy, Jack Savage, Jack Barry and Bryan Sheehan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-6 (0-4f), Paul Mannion 1-2, Ciaran Kilkenny and Ciaran Reddin 0-2 each, Philly McMahon, James McCarthy, Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly 0-1 each.


1. Brendan Kealy (Kilcummin)

2. Fionn Fitzgerald (Dr Crokes)
3. Mark Griffin (St Michaels-Foilmore)
4. Ronan Shanahan (Austin Stacks)

5. Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers)
6. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)
7. Paul Murphy (Rathmore)

8. David Moran (Kerins O’Rahillys)
17. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)

10. Jonathan Lyne (Killarney Legion)
11. Michael Geaney (Dingle)
12. Donnchadh Walsh (Cromane)

13. Kevin McCarthy (Kilcummin)
14. Paul Geaney (Dingle)
19. Jack Savage (Kerins O’Rahillys)


23. Gavin Crowley (Templenoe) for Lyne (black card, 26)
21. Darran O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Savage (58)
18. Barry John Keane (Kerins O’Rahillys) for McCarthy (62)
20. Bryan Sheehan (St Mary’s) for Walsh (67)
9. Anthony Maher (Duagh) for Barry (70)
22. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe) for Geaney (72).


1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

2. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
4. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens)

5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
6. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
7. Eric Lowndes (St Peregrines)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
9. Ciaran Reddin (St Maurs)

10. Paul Flynn (Fingallians)
11. Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock)
12. Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincents)

13. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
14. Paddy Andrews (St Brigids)
15. Bernard Brogan (St Oliver Plunketts)


26. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street) for Connolly (black card, 30)
21. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes) for Andrews (41)
20. Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for Reddin (48)
23. Kevin McManamon (St Jude’s) for O’Sullivan (49)
18. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf) for Lowdnes (60)
25. Eoghan O’Gara (Templeogue Synge Street) for Flynn (68)

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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