Dublin edge past Kerry in thrilling semi-final

SportBy Sean McGoldrick
Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin celebrates at the final whistle
Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin celebrates at the final whistle

DUBLIN 0-22 KERRY 2-14

A game for all the ages! Dublin remain on target to retain their All-Ireland title after late points from Eoghan O'Gara and Diarmuid Connolly gave them victory after a truly remarkable contest.

Dublin controlled virtually the entire first half and thoroughly deserved the 0-9 to 0-4 lead they had established after 25 minutes. Kerry were experiencing huge problems with their kick outs but against the run of play they completely turned the game around.

Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton experienced what was effectively a meltdown as one of his attempted short kick-outs was intercepted by Paul Geaney – the only Kerry player who had won his personal battle up to that point.

He combined with Donnchadh Walsh and and Darran O'Sullivan before the latter found the net in the 30th minute. Cluxton hit his next kick-out over the sideline and suddenly Dublin looked vulnerable as Kerry grasped their chance.

A Colm Cooper point in the 36th minute gave Kerry an unlikely lead but the best was yet to come for the Kingdom when a high speculative shot from Anthony Maher – a late replacement for for Stephen O'Brien – was punched over the line by the brilliant Geaney. Cluxton did his best to swoop the ball to safety but the umpire ruled that the ball had crossed line.

So against all the odds Kerry led at the break by five points (2-8 to 0-9) and for the first time this season the Dubs looked in trouble.

They tightened up their defence in the second half with Jonny Cooper switching to mark Geaney who was restricted to one point in the second half before being substituted.

Dublin outscored Kerry 6-1 to draw level with 20 minutes left but Kerry responded with magnificent points from substitutes Barry John Keane, James O'Donoghue and Geaney to extend their lead to three again.

But helped by the brilliant accuracy of Dean Rock from frees – he finished with a 0-12 tally Dublin outscored Kerry 5-1 to level the tie again with less than four minutes remaining.

As happened in their epic 2013 semi-final the game was decided in injury time with Kevin McMenamon and Stephen O'Brien swapping points before scores from O'Gara and Diarmuid Connolly ensured that the Dubs made it four wins in a row over Kerry in championship football.

Dublin: S Cluxton; J Cooper, P McMahon (0-1), D Byrne; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J Small; B Fenton (0-1), MD Macauley; P Flynn, D Connolly (0-2), C Kilkenny, K McManamon (0-3), D Rock (0-12, 8f ,2 45), B Brogan (0-2) . Subs: P Andrews for Flynn 45m; E O'Gara (0-1) for MD Macauley 59m, P Mannion for Small 50th, M Fitzmaurice for Cooper 66m. C Costello for Brogan 70m

Kerry: B Kelly; S Enright; M Griffin, K Young; A O'Mahony, P Crowley,T Morley; A Maher D Moran (0-1); P Murphy (0-1), D O'Sullivan (1-0), D Walsh; P Geaney (1-4), K Donaghy, C Cooper (0-5, 4f) Subs: S O'Brien (0-1) for O'Sullivan 40m; J O'Donoghue (0-1) for Donaghy 50m, BJ Keane (0-1) for Walsh 52m, B Begley for Morley 56m; B Sheehan for Maher 58m; M O Se for Geaney 66m.

Referee: David Gough (Meath)