Storming finish sees Dubs into All-Ireland final

November 8, 2018

DUBLIN 3-18 KERRY 3-11

Dublin and Kerry have served up some classic duels in the past but surely Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final tops the lot?
Dublin suffered three hammer blows in the opening 20 minutes when conceding goals but got back up off the canvas on each occasion and their indomitable spirit was rewarded with a grandstand finish as goals from ace supersub Kevin McManamon and fellow sub Eoghan O’Gara saw Dublin progress after an epic tussle.
There were more than just shades of the 2011 decider to Sunday’s game as the boys in blue showed the greater energy and will to win down the closing straight to claim victory.
It didn’t look that way in the early stages as Colm Cooper’s precision passing unlocked the Dublin defence for the impressive James O’Donoghue and Donnacha Walsh to claim goal as the Kingdom led 2-2 to 0-3 inside the opening 12 minutes.
But back came Dublin with a fisted goal from Paul Mannion as Diarmuid Connolly’s point effort dropped short.
Kerry, however, struck for goal against when Walsh perhaps barged into Stephen Cluxton before the Parnell’s netminder committed the foul and from the resulting penalty O’Donoghue made it 3-3 to 1-6 in the 20th minute.
By the interval Kerry held a two-point advantage, 3-5 to 1-9, as Dublin were left to rue not making more from a couple of goal-scoring chances that Bernard Brogan and Michael Darragh Macauley had.
The drama continued in the second half and while Kerry had lots of possession they found the Dublin defence a far sterner test after the break as the game swung from end to end.
The introduction of Denis Bastick at midfield and Cian O’Sullivan’s redeployment to centre-back worked well as did that of Philly McMahon while in the overall analysis the Dubs got plenty from their bench while Kerry’s subs struggled to make any big impact.
With just over two minutes of normal time remaining Connolly showed nerve and skill to curl over an equalising free off his left foot at the Hill 16 end after Paddy Andrews had been fouled to make it 1-17 to 3-11.
From there to the end it was all Dublin as McManamon’s goal after heroic work by the influential Macauley set him in motion as they carried the ball at the Kerry goal before clipping his left footed shot into the top corner of the net.
To add icing to the cake O’Gara drove home a late goal when crossed the line after it came off the underside of the crossbar with Dean Rock, who again scored two excellent points on his introduction, on hand to fire the rebound to the net was their any uncertainly!