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GAA round-up: Kerry to face Dublin in league final

GAABy Sean McGoldrick
Kerry's victory over Tyrone earned them an unlikely place in the Division One decider
Kerry's victory over Tyrone earned them an unlikely place in the Division One decider

Dublin and Kerry will meet in the Allianz League final next Sunday for the second successive season after a sensational last day of action in the final round robin series of games in the competition.

Here’s how the four divisions panned out: 

Division 1 League final: Dublin v Kerry.

Promoted from Division 2: Kildare and Galway.

Promoted from Division 3: Louth and Tipperary

Promoted from Division 4: Westmeath and Wexford.

The Division 1 and 2 finals will be played in Croke Park next Sunday with the Division 3 and 4 deciders scheduled for headquarters on Saturday night.

In the relegation battles these were the outcomes:

Relegated from Division 1: Roscommon and Cavan.

Relegated from Division 2: Derry and Fermanagh.

Relegated from Division 3: Antrim and Laois.

But those statistics fail utterly to convey the excitement, the joy and the heartache behind the results on an afternoon when fortunes swayed dramatically in the top three divisions.

Division 1:

Dublin’s ambition of securing a fifth League title on the spin looked in doubt with 25 minutes remaining in Clones when they trailed the home side by six points (1-12 to 0-9).

Monaghan, despite losing key defender Colin Walshe through injury and having midfielder Darren Hughes black carded for a foot trip on Brian Fenton, led 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.

A brilliant goal from Jack McCarron who tormented the Dublin full back line put the home side in the driving seat but Dublin responded as they traditionally do when faced with a crisis.

The cavalry arrived off the bench in the shape of All Stars Bernard Brogan, Jack McCaffrey, Diarmuid Connolly – when he was black carded he was replaced by Cian O’Sullivan – and Michael Darragh Macauley.

Significantly, it was Brogan (48thminute) and McCaffrey – seconds into injury time – who got the goals which swung the game in the visitors’ favour.  

Monaghan could only rue the fact that substitute Thomas Kerr missed a couple of chances when they were still ahead while Conor McManus, who had a very subdued afternoon, missed a crucial chance to restore their one-point advantage at the end of normal time.

Straight from Stephen Cluxton’s kick-out Dublin swept down-field with McCaffrey playing a delightful one-two with James McCarthy before rifling the ball passed Rory Beggan. 

The bottom line was on their way to extending their unbeaten run in the league and championship to 36 games, Dublin outscored Monaghan 2-6 to 0-3 in the last 20 minutes.

Ultimately it was Kerry - who finally won a home game in the League this season by hammering Tyrone - were the benefactors of the defeat of both Monaghan and Donegal. This trio, together with Mayo, all finished in second place on eight points.

But thanks to their seven-point win over Tyrone Eamon Fitzmaurice’s side finished with a + 13 scoring difference compared to Donegal’s +10, Monaghan + 3 and Mayo’s -3 so Eamon Fitzmaurice gets a chance to improve his 1 win, 9 losses against the All-Ireland champions next Sunday.

Kerry were in control against Tyrone from the start with an early goal from Michael Geaney. They led 1-12 to 0-6 at the break and Peter Harte’s 44th minute goal was Tyrone’s first score from play. The visitors improved slightly and got a second goal but they never looked like seriously challenging the home side.

Even though Cillian O’Connor hit an early penalty for Mayo after a foul on Andy Moran they looked in trouble in Castlebar, trailing by three points at the break (0-11; 1-5).

But the red carding of Donegal’s Eamon Doherty and the introduction of Aidan O’Shea changed the mood in the second half. The visitors only managed to tag on two points in the second half whereas the home side scored seven.

In the event Mayo would have maintained their 20-year unbroken status as a Division 1 team because neighbours Roscommon – who had already been relegated – secured their first win in the 2017 competition – by beating Cavan.

Division 2: As is their wont when expectations are placed on their shoulders Galway struggled to put away a make-shift Kildare team – in which eight players were making their debut – at Pearse Stadium. They scraped home by a point – but the margin didn’t matter. The win means they are back in Division 1 for the first time since 2011. Kildare, of course, had already secured promotion.

There was more drama at the other end of the table. Derry thought they had done enough to avoid the drop when they staged a magnificent comeback against Fermanagh with Corlus McWillians hitting the winning point in the dying seconds.

The defeat doomed Fermanagh to relegation and ultimately it wasn’t enough to save Derry either as Down’s Jerome Johnston’s late, late equaliser against Cork secured the visitors a priceless point which keeps them in Division 2 next season.

Division 3: Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan underlined his All Star status at the Athletic Grounds when his goal hat-trick sunk the home side and earned last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists a place in Division 2 next season.

Armagh recovered from his first two goals and looked set to be promoted along with Louth but Quinlivan struck in the dying seconds to secure the visitors one of their most important ever wins in the Allianz League.

Offaly performed a Houdini act at the other end of the table beating neighbours Laois in a high-scoring encounter to copper fasten their place in Division 3 next season and condemn Laois to relegation – even though they staged a dramatic rally with two goals from Donie Kingston.

Longford secured a priceless point at Corrigan Park to stay up but the result meant relegation for Antrim.

Allianz FL Division 1 results:

Kerry 1-21 Tyrone 2-11
Mayo 1-12 Donegal 0-13
Monaghan 1-15 Dublin 2-15
Roscommon 1-13 Cavan 1-10

Allianz FL Division 2 results:
Clare 1-13  Meath 3-19
Cork 1-10 Down 0-13
Fermanagh 0-13 Derry 2-08
Galway 0-14 Kildare 0-13

Allianz FL Division 3 results:
Armagh 0-15 Tipperary 3-07  
Louth 1-11 Sligo 0-17
Offaly 3-15 Laois 4-11
Antrim 1-13 Longford 0-16

Allianz FL Division 4 results:
Westmeath 3-26 London 1-09 
Carlow 2-14 Wexford 1-07

Limerick 2-13 Wicklow 2-09