Dublin 0-12 Kerry 0-09
After all the hype, the big let down.
Admittedly the weather played spoilsport on Ireland’s greatest annual sporting occasion in the 2015 All Ireland football final before a packed Croke Park on Sunday but that was still no excuse for the poor fare served up by Gaelic’s two iconic teams.
It descended into a comedy of errors in the second-half as both sides’ inaccuracy off hand and foot left you wondering if either county actually wanted to win it.
It was supposed to be the clash of the titans to make up for the mediocre fare that was trotted out as football this season.
But it was far from that – as low standards prevailed except on a few notable occasions. In the end Dublin took their 25th title.
The difference between the two teams was sharpness; just as Mayo had done Kerry a favor last season by forcing a semi-final replay, this year they bestowed the advantage on Dublin who looked more eager from the throw in against a strangely listless Kerry side that had not seen competitive action for over four weeks.
Fortune favored the brave and more industrious unit on the day as Dublin came out of the traps eager to run themselves into the ground.
Kerry seemed to be in a trance for much of the game and the fact that they could only score four points in the first half and nine in all is indicative of their somnambulism on the day.
Jim Gavin's side hit eight scores in the first half after they reeled off several unanswered points to give themselves breathing space in a match of inches.
The error-strewn game still could have had three Dublin goals but Dean Rock was thwarted by a great Brendan Kealy save in the first few minutes, then Paddy Andrews was just wide with his effort on the turn and most unfortunate of all Fenton made a great second-half run through the defense but his effort cannoned back off the upright with the goalkeeper beaten.'
For all their superiority, Dublin could have been pegged back to level terms late in the game when Kieran Donaghy, introduced as a second-half sub won a throw in with Michael Dara Macauley on the 20 metres line to find Killian Young in all sort of space and no one near him. However the defender, surprised at being in such a good position spilled the ball from his grasp and the Dublin defense arrived in numbers to clear.
From that move, Dublin veteran Alan Brogan, just on as a sub, ran the field and kicked a point that proved to be their insurance score.
Donaghy offered a sterner test when introduced but it was a blunt instrument to put every ball in long as it allowed two and three Dublin defenders to converge on him and thwart his best efforts to quarry a late goal for one of his teammates.
However he might feel slightly unlucky that at least one of his possession didn’t yield a free or indeed a penalty as ref David Coldrick sided with the defense on all occasions where he was involved.
Dublin has now won five consecutive Leinster championships and three leagues in succession while this is their third All Ireland in five years – their best returns since the 1970s.
Although they were 0-8 to 0-4 ahead at the break, Gavin was not afraid to make early changes for the second half.
Super sub Kevin McManamon came on at half-time and put in a huge shift without scoring as he had done in the previous game. Michael Darragh Macauley was introduced four minutes after the break for the wholehearted Denis Bastick and proceeded to leave a big impression on proceedings.
Kerry too weren’t afraid to change their playing personnel with Darran O'Sullivan making an immediate impact and then Paul Galvin was given his entry permit on the half forward line. O'Sullivan contributed two important points but will regret the half chance of a goal or point which he blasted wide from in front of the goal and only 20 meters out.
Paul Flynn has had a poor year by his standards after winning four All Stars in a row but cometh the hour, he stood up and scored two second-half points, while Alan Brogan closed out their scoring in the 67th minute – maybe his last in the county colors.
Dublin: S Cluxton (0-1f); J Cooper, R O'Carroll, P McMahon (0-1); J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey (0-1); B Fenton (0-1), D Bastick; P Flynn (0-2), D Connolly, C Kilkenny; B Brogan (0-2, 0-1f), D Rock (0-2f), P Andrews (0-1) Subs: K McManamon for Rock, Michael Darragh Macauley for Bastick, J Cooper for Fitzsimons, J Small for McCaffrey, D Daly for O'Sullivan, A Brogan (0-1) for Fenton.
Kerry: B Kealy; F Fitzgerald, A O'Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne (0-1), P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, D Moran; S O'Brien, J Buckley, D Walsh; C Cooper, P Geaney (0-2), J O'Donoghue (0-3) Subs: D O'Sullivan (0-2) for O'Brien, B Sheehan (0-1f) for Buckley, K Donaghy for Geaney, P Galvin for Moran, P Murphy for O'Mahony (black card), BJ Keane for O'Donoghue.
Ref: D. Coldrick (Meath).
The print and digital versions of this week’s Irish Echo will have more reaction and analysis from P.J. Cunningham.