Mayo’s Jack Coyne and Eoghan McLaughlin attempt to deal with the threat from Dylan Geaney of Kerry in Tralee on Saturday. [Inpho/James Crombie]

O'Callaghan steals the show

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell was reminded, if indeed he needed such reminding, that he possesses one of the best forwards in the county in Con O’Callaghan.

Minus the now retired  Dean Rock and with Cormac Costello injured early in the game, his captain for the day from Cuala turned in a virtuoso performance both as a target man and scorer to dominate this fixture and break Roscommon hearts at Croke Park on Saturday night.

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Seven points from the full-forward, including a mark and a single free, together with a body of work which won virtually every ball pumped in his direction made you wonder where he has been for the past season or two?

His arrival on the scene to garner seven All Ireland was part of the reason Dublin continued their success and on Saturday he showed a renewed hunger for the game that was clearly absent in last year’s march to Sam.

Farrell will have seen that the responsibility of captain brough the best out on his 27-year-old schemer who was deputising for the missing James McCarthy, who lifted Sam in the All Ireland final success against Kerry last year.

There is no doubt that a fully concentrated and interested O’Callaghan is to Dublin what David Clifford is to Kerry. He may not get the same accolades as the current Footballer of the Year, but he is un-markable once he is in the mood.

Could Farrell give the whole tenor of his group a fresh injection by giving Saturday’s skipper the armband full-time? Either way, he will have learned that Dublin’s best prospects of completing back to back triumphs will be in getting the ball in early to the Cuala man for he, like Clifford, has the knack of always getting there ahead of his marker.

On Saturday, he was the difference between the two teams as his scores and performances put Dublin on their way to their first two points of the current Division One campaign after narrow one-point losses to Monaghan and Mayo.

The Dubs had an extra reason for winning - to honor the death of Shane O’Hanlon, a key member of the backroom team for the past decade and a half.

Roscommon now only have one point and although they were only one point down at the interval, they never looked like winners in this encounter. Their best chance of getting two points to go with the single one they have from their draw against Galway may be this coming weekend when they entertain Monaghan at the Hyde. After a great start against Dublin, the Farmey men have suffered big losses to Kerry and Derry and could be one of the pair fighting relegation if they don’t pick something up in their next clash.

Farrell will welcome Kerry to the capital this week happy that his old hands, such as Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny, show no sign of losing their appetite in a blue jersey while he will also be hearted by the relative newcomers such as  Sean Bugler, Lee Gannon, and Ross McGarry, with three points from play off the 40, who also showed up really well.

Ever reliable Niall Scully was a big factor too when introduced in the final quarter and his running allowed for him to be in position to score the goal that killed the game.

It was also good to see Brian Howard get a cameo after injury while  Jack McCaffrey, Mick Fitzsimons, Stephen Cluxton, McCarthy and  Colm Basquel saw no action for one reason or another. 

James Fitzpatrick replaced  Cian Connolly in the Rossies line-up with the likes of Brian Stack, Conor Hussey, Evan Flynn, Shane Cunnane Niall Daly, Robbie Dolan, Donie Smith and Ben O'Carroll.

So Farrell and his opposite number, Dave Burke, will both be relatively happy that some of their squad members showed up well at a time when a full strength team is not possible for a variety of reasons.

UCD star Conor Cregg was a star in losing the Sigerson Cup final during the week and was again in eye-catching form with two points while almost almost getting in for a goal which would have changed the complexion of the game.

Roscommon will feel too that a quicker referee more up with the game could have given them a goal and a penalty. The disallowed goal actually came off a Dublin defender’s hand which meant the goal should have been allowed and  the Tyrone whistler will be disappointed with his second half decision which looks like the wrong call.

Dublin kicked seven wides to go with their eight first half points but improved their overall play to lead by 1-13 to 0-9 a quarter of an hour into the second moiety.

A scrambled goal by Enda Smith served only to reduce Dublin’s winning margin to respectable rather than one which suggested total control which is largely what they enjoyed for most of the second half.

Dublin: D O'Hanlon (0-1f); T Clancy, E Murchan, S MacMahon; L Gannon (0-1), J Small (0-1), C Murphy; B Fenton (0-2), P O Cofaigh Byrne; R McGarry (0-3), S Bugler (0-1), C Kilkenny (0-2); C Costello, C O'Callaghan (0-7, 0-1f, 0-1m), P Small Subs: S Lowry for Costello (8-f/t, blood), N Scully (1-0) for Costello 47, L O'Dell (0-1) for P Small 50, G McEneaney for J Small 55, B Howard for O Cofaigh Byrne 62, K McGinnis for McGarry 71.

Roscommon: C Carroll; D Murray, B Stack, N Higgins; C Hussey, E Flynn, E McCormack; Sh Cunnane, R Fallon (0-1); D Cregg (0-4, 0-1m, 0-1f), D Ruane, E Smith (1-2); J Fitzpatrick (0-1), D Murtagh (0-3), C Lennon Subs: Cl Heneghan for Fitzpatrick 50, R Dolan for Hussey 50, C Cox (0-1) for Lennon 55, A McDermott for Ruane 62, L Glennon for Higgins 67.

Ref: S Hurson (Tyrone).

Kerry 0-16; Mayo 0-15

It’s one of the oldest GAA maxims but it still rings through to the present moment that good forwards win matches.

Just when those spectating at Austin Park in Tralee on Saturday night were settling for a sharing of the spoils after Ryan O’Donoghue slotted over a free three minutes into added time, up popped you-know-who - yes David Clifford to break Mayo hearts and lift Kerry’s with a magnificent point at the death of the game.

That final kick also scuppered Mayo’s recent good record of not having lost to Kerry in four outings and gave Jack O’Connor his second brace of points following the opening night’s shock reverse against high-flying Derry in the same pitch.

Kerry always looked a shade more likely to come out on top and led by two points — 0-7 to 0-5 — following a disappointing first half.

The first start of the year for the Clifford brothers was tonic for O’Connor as they accounted for nine points from play, five to David and four to the new Kerry captain Paul who was on his game both as a finisher and a creator.

With Seanie O’Shea doing well from frees and plays and with the likes of  Cillian  Burke and Dara Moynihan  enhancing their reputations, this was a much better Kerry performance. Jason Foley was in good form while centre-back Tadgh Morley got most of this game into his legs after missing the two opening encounters.

In the middle third, the Kerry boss will also be happy that Gavin White, Diarmuid O’Connor and Dylan Geaney all made huge contributions, with Joe O’Connor again doing well at midfield.

The full house of 12,000 witnessed a close game where there was seldom more than a point of two between the sides on the scoreboard.

Both teams played well but there was an absence of the cut and thrust of championship fare as it turned into a  game of chess on occasions.

 at times, but certainly one where the near 12,000 in attendance were treated to an entertaining half of football.

The pendulum swung in the hosts’ favor when close to the hour Mayo were reduced to 14 players when Sam Callinan gave a yellow and black combo which resulted in red.

Mayo showed guts and attitude to fight back to level the game well into the red on the clock but Clifford the younger had the final say when raising the decisive white flag of the evening..

Kerry: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley (0-1), D Casey; T O’Sullivan, T Morley, G White; D O’Connor (0-1), J O’Connor; P Clifford (capt.) (0-4); D Geaney (0-1), C Burke; D Clifford (0-5), S O’Shea (0-4, 0-3f), D Moynihan Subs: C Geaney for D Geaney (49 mins), B O’Sullivan for O’Connor (55 mins), P Murphy for Morley (58 mins), A Spillane for Moynihan (63 mins), R Buckley for Burke (67 mins).

Mayo: C Reape (0-1f); J Coyne, D McBrien, D McHugh, S Callinan (0-2), R Brickenden, E  McLaughlin, J Carney, D O’Connor (0-1), B Tuohy (0-1), F Bolan (0-3), J Flynn (0-1); A O’Shea, T Conroy, R O’Donoghue (0-5, 0-2f) Subs: D McHale (0-1) for O’Shea, E Hession for McLaughlin (both 48 mins), S Coen for McBrien (57 mins), C O’Connor for Tuohy (57 mins), C Boland for Conroy (72 mins)

Ref: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).


Div 1 

Derry 3-17; Monaghan 0-13

Dublin 1-19; Roscommon 1-12

Kerry 0-16; Mayo 0-15

Galway 1-12; Tyrone 0-13

Div 2

Donegal 2-16; Fermanagh 0-8

Cavan 0-17; Cork 0-16

Meath 1-11; Louth 1-9

Armagh 2-16; Kildare 0-8

Div 3

Westmeath 1-13; Wicklow 0-10

Sligo 1-12; Limerick 0-10

Down 1-15; Antrim 1-6

Clare 2-10; Offaly 1-12

Div 4

Leitrim 3-7; Wexford 2-9

Laois 2-14; Carlow 0-9

Longford 0-16; Waterford 0-13

London 1-8; Tipperary 0-11