Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park
DUBLIN ACHIEVED ANOTHER double-digit win in the Leinster SFC to set-up a showdown with Meath in the decider on 23 June.
They’ve failed to win by at least 10 points on just one occasion in the province since 2013 – in the Leinster final against Kildare two years ago.
The Lilywhites made a decent fist of things for three quarters here but without star names like Daniel Flynn, Niall Kelly and Paul Cribbin they were never likely to run the Dubs close.
The Sky Blues are still operating a couple of gears below the level they’ll want to hit come the Super 8s and yet they coasted to a one-sided victory in front of 36,126 at Croke Park. The nature of the Leinster championship means they won’t be seriously tested for another month at least.
Paul Mannion, a late addition to the team after his one-game suspension was overturned, kicked seven excellent scores from play and was by far the most clinical player in Dublin’s attack.
Kildare did cause enough problems for Mick Fitzsimons and Cian O’Sullivan in the full-back line to give the other All-Ireland contenders hope. For all their attacking class, Dublin do ship plenty of chances at the back.
The Lilywhites left at least three genuine goalscoring chances behind them. On his 100th championship appearance, Stephen Cluxton denied Ben McCormack and Keith Cribbin with good saves in either half, while McCormack sent another opportunity for a green flag wide shortly after the restart.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Jim Gavin’s side lined out with John Small at centre-back and O’Sullivan in the corner. They had Brian Howard at centre-forward but in an interesting ploy, he dropped behind his half-back line when Dublin defended in the opening half.
It looked like business as usual for the heavy favourites as they raced into an early 0-7 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes. But the All-Ireland champions were having issues at the back, and looked a little vulnerable when Kildare ran at them.
Cormac Costello, who continued to deputise on the frees in Dean Rock’s absence, had 0-5 on the board by the interval. He finished with nine points (0-5 from play) and is finding his feet as a regular starter in this championship team.
After a slow start, Kildare hit six points in the second quarter to leave them four behind at the interval. Adam Tyrrell landed two scores of the highest quality apiece, while Mick O’Grady popped forward for a long-range effort.
Tyrrell was Kildare’s best forward and is an accurate scorer from distance, finished with four quality points to his name.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
There was plenty for Gavin to ponder at half-time. Dublin were far from convincing – missing chances up front and leaking opportunities at the far end.
McCormack blazed another goal chance wide for Kildare early in the second period. Dublin’s movement up front saw Mannion, Howard, O’Callaghan and Costello tag on scores as their superior fitness began to tell.
Mannion and O’Callaghan continued to threaten for the victors, while Kildare’s scores dried up. A brace from McCormack was all Cian O’Neill’s men could muster after the 47th minute as Dublin’s stranglehold on the game became more evident.
Paddy Andrews made his return from the broken jaw he sustained against Tyrone on 16 March and Rory O’Carroll came on for his first game at Croke Park since the 2015 All-Ireland final as Gavin ran the bench in the final quarter.
Scorers for Dublin: Cormac Costello 0-9 (0-2f, 0-2 45), Paul Mannion 0-7, Con O’Callaghan and Ciaran Kilkenny 0-3 each, Brian Fenton 0-2 each, Brian Howard and Paddy Small 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare: Adam Tyrrell 0-4 (0-1f), Ben McCormack 0-3, Neil Flynn (0-1f), David Hyland, Mick O’Grady and Kevin Feely 0-1 each.
1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)
6. Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes)
2. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf)
3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
4. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf)
8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
19. Michael Darragh Macaualey (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
12. Brian Howard (Raheny)
20. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
13. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
11. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille)
14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
26. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams) for Macauley (52)
21. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams) for O’Sullivan (53)
9. Darren Gavin (Lucan Sarsfields) for Kilkenny (62)
23. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna) for McCaffrey (62)
15. Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s) for O’Callaghan (64)
24. Rory O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes) for Fitzsimons (65)
1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
4. Mark Hyland (Athy)
3. David Hyland (Athy)
2. Mark Dempsey (Moorefield)
5. Peter Kelly (Two Mile House)
6. Eoin Doyle (Naas)
7. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
8. Kevin Feely (Athy)
9. Tommy Moolick (Leim an Bhradain)
10. David Slattery (Confey)
12. Fergal Conway (Cill Droichid)
19. Chris Healy (Teach dha Mhile)
15. Neil Flynn (Maynooth)
13. Adam Tyrrell (Moorefield)
14. Ben McCormack (Sarsfields)
20. Kevin O’Callaghan (Cill Droichid) for Neil Flynn (29)
17. Jimmy Hyland (Baile Thaigh) for Healy (blood sub, 34 – HT)
23. Cian O’Donoghue (Claonadh) for Moolick (57)
17. Hyland for Healy (58)
24. Conor Hartley (Sarsfields) for Slattery (67)
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
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