Dublin are All-Ireland champions for a record-breaking fifth time in a row, after a hard-fought 1-18 to 0-15 victory over a spirited Kerry outfit.
Nobody can level an accusation that they had an easy ride en route to sealing the unprecedented ‘five’, as they were pushed all the way by an emerging Kerry outfit.
The Dubs got off to a perfect start. Racing into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead, they had all the momentum in the early stages. Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion, who were kept quiet in the drawn game, were doing real damage, notching five points between them before the break, while Ciarán Kilkenny also chipped in with a trio of his own.
The Kingdom clearly felt there was a weakness to be exploited in the Dubs’ fullback line, sending in three high balls. However, they came away with nothing, and were forced to change tactic.
Eventually, the Munster side got a foothold in the tie. David Clifford, who was being picked up by Michael Fitzsimons, was finding space and sending the ball over the bar with pinpoint accuracy.
Paul Geaney was also having a huge impact. Indeed, Clifford, Geaney and Seán O’Shea had all bagged three points each before the break.
When Conor Lane eventually called a halt to proceedings after a breathtaking first period, they were level at 0-10 apiece, and it was Kerry who were the happier given they had twice trailed by four points.
As it was confirmed that Jack McCaffrey was being replaced by Diarmuid Connolly, there was a sense that it was a blow for the Sky Blues. But mere seconds after the announcement, the Dublin fans were sent into raptures. Eoin Murchan picked up possession off the throw-in, made a storming run through the heart of the Kerry defence, and blasted it by Shane Ryan.
Seconds later, Paul Mannion followed it up with a point, and the Dubs led by four once again.
Nonetheless, when it was needed, Kerry mustered a response. Consecutive points from Clifford, Geaney and O’Shea reeled in the favourites, and Peter Keane’s charges sent a loud message – they weren’t going to roll over.
The sides went point-for-point as the game went on, and the benches were emptied.
However, in the 62nd minute, a James McCarthy score gave the Dubs a five-point lead for the first time.
With the game in the melting pot, scores began to allude the Kingdom, as they amassed seven second-half wides.
Ultimately, two points from Dean Rock put Dublin out of sight, as they secured a famous victory.
Despite the defeat, there are reasons for optimism around Kerry football – this young team pushed one of the greatest teams ever all the way, and these two sides could contest several more finals in the coming years.
But for now, it’s Dublin’s day, it’s Dublin’s year, and for the first time ever, the Sam Maguire Cup is booking into a county for a fifth consecutive winter.
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Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
Attendance: 82,300 (approx)
Scorers for Dublin: Paul Mannion 0-5, Ciarán Kilkenny 0-4, Con O’Callaghan 0-3, Eoin Murchan 1-0, Dean Rock 0-3 (0-1 45), James McCarthy 0-1, David Byrne 0-1, Niall Scully 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford 0-5 (0-1 free), Seán O’Shea 0-5 (0-3 frees), Paul Geaney 0-4, Adrian Spillane 0-1.
1. Stephen Cluxton
2. David Byrne
3. Michael Fitzsimons
4. Jonny Cooper
5. Jack McCaffrey
6. James McCarthy
7. John Small
8. Brian Fenton
24. Eoin Murchan
10. Niall Scully
11. Ciaran Kilkenny
12. Brian Howard
13. Paul Mannion
14. Con O’Callaghan
15. Dean Rock
Diarmuid Connolly for Jack McCaffrey (half-time)
Philly McMahon for Eoin Murchan (56th minute)
Cormac Costello for Niall Scully (58th minute)
Cian O’Sullivan for David Byrne (68th minute)
Kevin McManamon for Paul Mannion (68th minute)
Michael Darragh Macauley for Brian Howard (74th minute)
1. Shane Ryan
2. Jason Foley
3. Tadhg Morley
4. Tom O’Sullivan
5. Paul Murphy
6. Gavin Crowley
7. Brian Ó Beaglaoich
8. David Moran
9. Jack Barry
23. Diarmuid O’Connor
11. Sean O’Shea
12. Stephen O’Brien
13. David Clifford
14. Paul Geaney
15. Adrian Spillane
Gavin White for Adrian Spillane (51st minute)
Jack Sherwood for Brian Ó Beaglaoich (51st minute)
Tommy Walsh for Diarmuid O’Connor (56th minute)
Killian Spillane for Paul Murphy (60th minute)
James O’Donoghue for Jack Barry (65th minute)
Dara Moynihan for Gavin Crowley (72nd minute)