Fintan O’Toole reports from Croke Park
THERE MAY HAVE been magic and romance in the air in Croke Park after Westmeath’s incredible comeback in today’s first Leinster semi-final but the ruthlessness of Dublin meant there was no surprise in the second encounter.
50,237 spectators were in attendance to see Dublin smash home five goals en route to a 19-point win and sail comfortably into the decider on 12 July.
Dublin put this one to bed early as they crashed home three goals in the opening period. Dean Rock had the simple task of despatching the first one after a great Dublin team move carved Kildare apart in the 9th minute.
Three minutes later, they raised their second green flag. Bernard Brogan unleashed a thunderbolt after a blistering run forward by Jack McCaffrey had initially created the chance.
And then before half-time came the third goal when Diarmuid Connolly displayed all his wizardry to wave a path through the Kildare defence and roll the ball to the corner of the net.
It was Connolly that confidently tucked home Dublin’s fourth goal from the penalty spot in the closing stages after Dean Rock was fouled. Then Brogan added the fifth goal when he palmed to the net after a clever exchange of passes from Paddy Andrews.
It was another tough afternoon at the office for Kildare against Dublin as the gap between the pair continues to grow on this evidence.
Kildare’s prospects looked stark as the break when they trailed 3-10 to 0-6 and they were destined for a qualifier trip to Tullamore to face Offaly next Saturday long before the final whistle.
Dublin’s delight was increased by the bright display of Alan Brogan when sprung from the bench in the second-half as he added 0-3 while Ciaran Kilkenny was the point-scoring star of the first-half. The twin threat of Connolly and Brogan was highlighted throughout as they weighed in with 2-3 apiece.
Kildare’s best spell was after the interval when they reeled off a series of points to be 3-11 to 0-11 adrift by the 50th minute.
Eoghan O’Flaherty, Padraig O’Neill and Padraig Fogarty all kicked some good scores but they never came close to troubling Stephen Cluxton in the Dublin goal.
Dublin upped the ante again as the second-half progressed to storm to the finish line in first place.
Scorers for Dublin: Diarmuid Connolly (1-0 pen), Bernard Brogan 2-3 each, Dean Rock 1-4 (0-4f), Ciaran Kilkenny 0-4, Alan Brogan 0-3, Philly McMahon 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Eoghan O’Flaherty 0-4 (0-2f), Padraig Fogarty 0-3, Padraig O’Neill 0-2, Emmet Bolton, Paul Cribbin, Cathal McNally, Alan Smith, Niall Kelly 0-1 each.
1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)
4. Philip McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
24. Rory O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes)
2. Johnny Cooper (Na Fianna)
6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
9. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
7. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf)
8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
22. Michael Darragh MacAuley (Ballyboden St-Enda’s)
10. Paul Flynn (Fingallians)
11. Kevin McManamon (St Judes)
12. Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock)
13. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
14. Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincents)
15. Bernard Brogan (Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruaidh)
23. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams) for Small (43)
18. Alan Brogan (Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruaidh) for McManamon (43)
17. Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s) for Flynn (58)
20. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala) for O’Carroll (58)
5. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens) for O’Sullivan (64)
1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
4. Ollie Lyons (Celbridge )
3. Mick O Grady (Celbridge)
2. Ciaran Fitzpatrick (Kilcock)
5. Kevin Murnaghan (Moorefield)
7. Eoin Doyle (Naas)
6. Emmet Bolton (Eadestown)
8. Gary White (Sarsfields)
9. Paul Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
10. Padraig O’Neill (St Laurence’s)
11. Eoghan O’Flaherty (Carbury)
12. Cathal McNally (Johnstownbridge)
14. Alan Smith (Sarsfields)
15. Padraig Fogarty (St Laurence’s)
13. Eamonn Callaghan (Naas)
17. David Hyland (Athy) for Lyons (inj) (11)
26. Niall Kelly (Athy) for Callaghan (46)
22. Tommy Moolick (Leixlip) for White (46)
21. Hugh Lynch (Confey) for McNally (55)
16. Colin Heeney (Celbridge) for Donnellan (black card) (63)
25. Fionn Dowling (Suncroft) for Bolton (65)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)