Michael Corry reporting live from Croke Park.
The drive for five will have to wait another while as Kerry and Dublin played out a fascinating draw in Croke Park.
Goal chances, goals scored, missed penalties and red cards. That was just the first half of this pulsating All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Kerry in Croke Park.
Paul Mannion opened the scoring after just twenty seconds to give Dublin the lead with Seán O’Shea replaying almost immediately for the Kingdom. Kerry’s work rate in the opening half was fierce as they turned over Dublin on more than one occasion, however, they had to work harder than ever before just to get out of their own half.
Jonny Cooper was detailed to David Clifford but his game would come to an early end after receiving a red card on the stroke of the half for persistent fouling. Upon reflection, Cooper could have no complaints.
Jonny Cooper has been sent off for pulling down David Clifford. Wow. A huge moment in this game.
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) September 1, 2019
His first foul on Clifford was well spotted by David Gough who awarded a just worthy penalty to Kerry, however, Stephen Cluxton stepped up and got a strong right hand to Paul Geaney’s kick. It was the second goal chance of the half that Geaney had missed after James McCarthy made an excellent goal-line clearance early in the first half to deny the Dingle man.
As many expected, Jack Barry was brought in as a late replacement to mark Brian Fenton and had an excellent first half claiming two excellent catches from restarts while the Raheny midfielder struggled to get into the game. In his absence, Dublin had other leaders stand up as Dean Rock and Brian Howard both claimed beautiful catches from Cluxton kick-outs.
Outstanding work from Dublin as Jack McCaffrey sprints up the field and scores a goal! pic.twitter.com/xuzUZ4U3Sr
— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 1, 2019
Howard’s majestic catch proved the launchpad for the Dublin goal as Jack McCaffrey was sent through on goal and rifled home to put Dublin in the ascendency. They would eventually take a four-point lead in with them at the break but Cooper’s red card gave the Kingdom hope. Dublin had some rejigging to do.
The second half was frenetic as the first. Kerry could have had a goal through Paul Murphy if not for the fingertips of Cluxton who pushed his rapser of a shot onto the crossbar. Kerry were undeterred though as O’Shea nailed three frees to leave two between them after 45 minutes.
Stephen Cluxton gets a touch to deflect Paul Murphy's shot at goal! pic.twitter.com/8JREFn9mLW
— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 1, 2019
Jack McCaffrey added two classy points from play to go alongside his first-half goal in what was quickly becoming a man of the match performance but Kerry weren’t going away as Clifford hit his second from play. With twenty minutes remaining there was a feeling in the stadium that this one was going right down to the wire.
And so it did…
McCaffrey took his tally to 1-3 with a booming kick as Dublin seemed to be motoring into another gear, however, Tommy Walsh was introduced for Kerry and when he collected the first ball that came into him the end result saw Killian Spillane finish low and hard to the net to bring the Kingdom within two. Even the prawn sandwich brigade wasn’t leaving this one early.
Credit to Walsh who brought Kerry to within one just moments after a bad miss. With ten minutes remaining Dublin’s lead had been cut to one and they looked under pressure.
The whole of the Kingdom erupted as Walsh continued his stellar impact when he set-up O’Shea to kick his ninth point and level the game.
Rock and O’Shea exchanged further scores before Kerry took the lead when Killian Spillane cut a beautiful kick over the bar. With just minutes left and the game in the melting pot, Jim Gavin called for Diarmuid Connolly who entered for Dublin’s last roll of the dice to keep the dream of five alive.
As seven minutes went up on the board you can feel the stadium shake with nerves. Even the neutrals were having heart attacks. Dublin missed two golden efforts but Mr Reliable, Dean Rock stepped up to level the game with two minutes remaining.
With a minute to go Dublin held onto possession looking for that one opportunity to seal the five-in-a-row. They say patience is your virtue and they were rewarded with a free right on the sideline. This was always going to be tough for Rock time was up and the game was level.
He missed it! It finished a draw, we return in two week’s time.
Stephen Cluxton (c); David Byrne, Jonny Cooper, Michael Fitzsimons; Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy, John Small; Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley; Niall Scully, Con O’Callaghan, Brian Howard; Paul Mannion, Dean Rock, Ciarán Kilkenny.
Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Brian Ó Beaglaoich; David Moran, Adrian Spillane; Gavin White (c), Seán O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien; David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Killian Spillane.