Dublin edge Kerry in semi-final thriller

All Ireland Senior Football Semi-Final

Dublin 0-22 Kerry 2-14

All-Ireland champions Dublin will face Mayo in this years final after coming back from a five point half-time deficit to win 0-22 to 2-14 in an action packed semi-final clash against Kerry in Croke Park this afternoon.

Injury time points from Eoghan O’Gara and Diarmuid Connolly sealed the victory over a spirited Kerry side that had the champions on the ropes a number of times.

Magnificent performances from man of the match Kevin McManamon, Philly McMahon and Dean Rock, who finished the game with 0-12, ensured victory for the defending champions in front of a capacity crowd of over 82,000.

In what was the best game this season, both sides contributed to an intriguing contest, and Kerry went in at the break 2-08 to 0-09 following goals from Darran O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney after Kerry scored 2-4 without reply.

Dublin settled into the game well and raced into a four point lead, with scores from Connolly and Rock. McMahon also had a shot well saved by Kerry goalkeeper Brian Kelly.

It took Kerry 14 minutes to land their opening point and at times Dublin stretched their lead to five points but Kerry kept in touch thanks to points from Geaney and Colm Cooper.

With five minutes left in the first half, Kerry levelled the game when they capitalised on a poor kick out from Stephen Cluxton with O’Sullivan finding the net. Kerry then went into the lead for the first time with a Cooper score and with three minutes of injury time signalled, Kerry got a second goal.

A looping effort in was flicked over Cluxton by the incoming Geaney and neither Cluxton or David Byrne could stop the ball from going over the line.

Cooper got his fourth point of the game just before half time and Kerry headed down the tunnel with a five point lead.

Stephen Cluxton and David Byrne of Dublin try to clear Paul Genaey's goal.
Stephen Cluxton and David Byrne of Dublin try to clear Paul Genaey’s goal.

The Kingdom were looking for their first championship win over Dublin in seven years but like in the first half, it was Dublin who started the better in the second half.

Points for Rock, Bernard Brogan and Brian Fenton levelled the game at 0-15 to 2-09 with 20 minutes to go and both sides really went for it with some crushing tackles and shoulders being put in, particularly from McManamon.

Kerry substitute Barry John Keane was only on the pitch less than a minute when he kicked a magnificent point to put the Kingdom back in the lead and points from Geaney and James O’Donoghue a few minutes later left the score at 0-15 to 2-12.

With the game entering the final ten minutes, Dublin were still three points down at 0-16 to 2-13 but a McMahon point and two frees from Rock tied the game again. Kerry supporters were not happy with referee David Gough awarding Dublin a number of contentious frees late on.

With five minutes of injury time called, McManamon and Kerry substitute Stephen O’Brien exchanged points to level the game again and the draw was on the cards. However, the Dublin supporters on the Hill were celebrating two minutes into injury time when O’Gara pointed and a magnificent score from Connolly a minute later sealed the victory.

Dean Rock is challenged by Paul Murphy.
Dean Rock is challenged by Paul Murphy and Aidan O’Mahony

The champions outscored Kerry 0-13 to 0-06 in the second half though and will now look to be the first team to win back-to-back All-Ireland football titles since Kerry achieved it in 2006 and 2007.

While Dublin fans look forward to yet another final Kerry fans are anticipating a changing of the guard as a number of the sides experienced players are expected to hang up their boots. Manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice is also unlikely to stay on for a fifth year in charge of the Kingdom.

Kerry: 1 Brian Kelly, 2 Shane Enright, 3 Mark Griffin, 4 Killian Young (C), 24 Aidan O’Mahony, 6 Peter Crowley, 7 Tadhg Morley, 8 Kieran Donaghy, 9 David Moran (0-1), 10 Paul Murphy (0-1), 11 Colm Cooper (0-5, 0-4f), 12 Donnchadh Walsh, 23 Anthony Maher, 14 Paul Geaney (1-4), 17 Darran O’Sullivan (1-0)

Subs: Stephen O’Brien (0-1) for Darran O’Sullivan (39), James O’Donoghue (0-1) for Kieran Donaghy (50), Barry John Keane (0-1) for Donnchadh Walsh (52), Brian Ó Beaglaoich for Tadgh Morley (55), Bryan Sheehan on for Anthony Maher (58), Marc O’Se for Paul Geaney (67).

Dublin: 1 Stephen Cluxton, 2 Philly McMahon (0-1), 3 Jonny Cooper, 4 David Byrne, 5 James McCarthy, 6 Cian O’Sullivan, 7 John Small, 8 Brian Fenton (0-1), 23 Macauley, 10 Paul Flynn, 24 Kevin McManamon (0-2), 12 Ciarán Kilkenny, 13 Dean Rock (0-12 0-8f, 0-2 ’45), 14 Diarmuid Connolly (0-3), 15 Bernard Brogan (0-2)

Subs: Paddy Andrews for Paul Flynn (45), Paul Mannion for John Small (50), Eoghan O’Gara (0-1) for Michael Darragh Macauley (60), Michael Fitzsimons on for Jonny Cooper (67), Cormac Costello for Bernard Brogan (71)

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