What was once deemed impossible is now possible as Dublin are All-Ireland Champions for the fifth year in succession.
Jim Gavin’s men were put to the pin of their collars by Kerry over 150 of high-intensity Gaelic football but their heart, desire and steely determination shone through on both days.
Kerry will reflect on what could have been having led Dublin in stoppage time two week’s ago but Peter Keane’s men can have no complaints about the outcome of Saturday evening’s game. Dublin put the Kingdom to the sword with a second-half display of football that has come to define this great side.
In truth, Dublin always looked a step ahead of their Kerry counterparts despite the Kingdom’s first-half fightback.
Dublin also learned from the drawn game in that they didn’t allow Kerry to mount a second-half resurrection akin to the one they put up in last Sunday week’s drawn game.
Jim Gavin’s side were able to see out the job in a couple of clutch moments that totally deflated what was a buoyant Kerry side.
The screw was turned just 16 seconds after the restart when David Moran’s punch bounced straight into the arms of Eoin Murchan who immediately took off.
One of the fastest men on the Dublin panel, the Na Fianna man soared through the heart of the Kerry defence as Dublin’s potent full-forward line retreated towards the Cusack Stand to make room.
Moran tried valiantly but he couldn’t stop Murchan from rattling the net. A killer blow for Kerry after putting in a mountain of work to level matters at half-time.
What a goal this was from Eoin Murchan- straight from the 2nd half throw-in 😍😍
— Dublin GAA (@DubGAAOfficial) September 14, 2019
Despite Murchan’s goal giving Dublin the perfect platform to kick on it was Kerry who tagged on the next three scores.
The Kingdom were undeterred by Dublin and fought their way back into it once more with Seán O’Shea’s score from play narrowing the gap to just one. Momentum had shifted slightly in Kerry’s favour and it was clear that the next score would be vital.
It was Dublin who found that next score thanks to one of the passes of the century from Diarmuid Connolly who arrowed an inch-perfect pass into the chest of Ciarán Kilkenny.
The Man of the Match cut inside Brian Ó Beaglaoich before firing over another score with his left foot. All things considered, this was a game-defining score.
Sublime pass by Diarmuid Connolly here to set up a Ciarán Kilkenny point! pic.twitter.com/gg7Tabwqls
— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 14, 2019
Kilkenny was involved in Dublin’s next clutch moment.
However, it was at the other end of the field where the Castleknock man’s services were needed. With Dublin ahead by three entering the final 20 minutes, Kerry tried to mount a comeback.
Jack Sherwood had just been introduced. The Kerry man carried possession deep into Dublin’s half of the field before checking back on his left foot.
Despite Sherwood’s fresh legs, Kilkenny tracked his run the whole way. He checked back in alongside Sherwood before making a textbook block to prevent the score.
Dublin forced the turnover following Kilkenny’s block before working the ball down the field and into a scoring position, however, Connolly was unable to convert.
It was a let-off for the Kingdom who knew that a comeback was still well within their capabilities. From the restart, Kerry worked the ball towards Stephen O’Brien collected the pass from Gavin White underneath the Hogan Stand.
O’Brien broke two challenges before finding himself one-on-one with Stephen Cluxton. O’Brien shot but Cluxton stood tall to make the save. Dublin retained possession and a minute later Paul Mannion scored. All of a sudden four points separated the sides.
The final clutch play that sealed the deal came in the 68th minute of the game when Dean Rock pointed over his shoulder to leave no doubt as to who was coming out victorious.
Rock was quiet compared to the drawn game when he kicked 0-10 and carried the mantle for Dublin. However, Rock epitomises what a clutch player is. Making big plays at big moments.
After patient build-up play, Rock collected a pass from Kevin McManamon before instinctively firing between the posts to all but seal the deal for the Dubs.
These were the big plays that ensured Dublin made history at the second time of asking.
The common theme running through all of these clutch moments is that they were made by clutch players. Cluxton, Kilkenny, Rock and Connolly. Seasoned campaigners who have come up trumps time and time again for Dublin.
Thankfully for Jim Gavin, they stood up when it mattered most.