Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Cathal Noonan/INPHO Michael Darragh Macauley in action for the Dublin footballers.
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5 talking points after Dublin's victory over Kildare last night
Dublin had ten points to spare over Kildare at Croke Park.

1. Kevin McManamon runs the show up front

Four of Dublin’s starting forwards from last year’s All-Ireland win were not involved last night while Ciaran Kilkenny’s involvement was cut short early on through injury. Paddy Andrews chipped in with 1-2 but Dublin needed offensive inspiration from elsewhere and Kevin McManamon provided it.

He chalked up 0-8 in a splendid display. The game may have lacked a signature goal from the St Judes man but he more than compensated. He grabbed four points from play, hit four frees that all stemmed from fouls he had incurred and was the focal point Dublin needed.

2. Injury worry for Ciaran Kilkenny

For all the brightness that McManamon’s play generated for Dublin, there was darkness in the form of Ciaran Kilkenny limping off in the early exchanges. On a night that saw Alan Brogan and Tomas Brady both back healthy and entering the fray for Dublin, it was an injury setback they could have done without.

Kilkenny was a major asset in Dublin’s run to glory last summer, particularly in the early stages of the campaign. With plenty important assignments looming for the Dublin senior and U21 sides, there’ll be fingers crossed that Kilkenny’s knee injury is not serious.

Ciaran Kilkenny sustains an injury Cathal Noonan / INPHO Ciaran Kilkenny receives treatment. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

3. Kildare’s conversion ratio in front of goal

Succumbing to a third convincing defeat to Dublin at Croke Park in the space of a year, hardly paints a positive picture for Kildare. Manager Jason Ryan was keen afterwards to point out that Kildare did create more clearcut chances on this occasion. That was true but the problem was converting those.

Darroch Mulhall smashed home a terrific goal before the break yet Kildare really should have raised more green flags. Cathal McNally’s early shot was tipped away by Stephen Cluxton before the same player palmed a first-half effort against the upright and then rocketed a second-half shot off the crossbar.

Tomas O’Connor saw another effort smothered by Cluxton and Mulhall slammed a free against the bar in the final play of the game. Creativity was not Kildare’s problem last night but failing to put scores on the board killed their chances of reversing the recent losing streak against Dublin.

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4. Dublin back on course for knockout stages

Dublin’s remaining fixture list contains challenges. They have upcoming northern away days against Derry and Tyrone – who are both in good form – to contend with and an All-Ireland final rematch against Mayo in Croke Park later this month.

But last night’s win helps them repair the damage caused by last week’s loss to Cork. With three wins from their four games to date, they are back in the hunt for a spot in the league semi-finals. Considering they have had to cope with the hangover from All-Ireland celebrations and the absence of key components from their side, Jim Gavin will be pleased with their 2014 progress to date.

Tommy Moolick with Cian O'Sullivan Donall Farmer / INPHO Kildare's Tommy Moolick and Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

5. Kildare set for survival showdown with Kerry

Defeat to Dublin compounded a bad week for Kildare after Tyrone plundering the spoils late on in Newbridge last Sunday and the county U21 side exiting the Leinster championship in midweek. At this juncture they are battling for Division 1 survival after a third loss on the bounce since their opening day win over Mayo.

Next Sunday’s meeting in Newbridge with Kerry is likely to have huge significance. The Kingdom have lost their three games to date and even if they claim the honours against Tyrone today, they will head to St Conleth’s Park matching Kildare for points on the table. It seems set to be a survival showdown for Jason Ryan and Eamon Fitzmaurice’s sides.

Dublin back to winning ways as they prove too strong for Kildare at Croke Park

Ciaran Kilkenny set to undergo scan tomorrow after suffering knee injury

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