GAA Football

How the Dublin players rated against Kerry

Dublin skipper Stephen Cluxton produced a near flawless performance on Saturday.
Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

Stephen Cluxton: See Star Man

7 David Byrne: Paul Geaney gave him his fill of it in the first half when he scored three points from play. Geaney was in superb form but Byrne stuck with his doggedly and wore him down. Scored a point in the second half.

7.5 Michael Fitzsimons: Picked up David Clifford who threatened to break free at times but never quite did. Big hit on O’Brien as he bore down on goal. The Cuala man stuck to his damage-limitation brief and kept Clifford relatively quiet in the second period.

7 Jonny Cooper: Moved into a sweeping role and was on the front line, wherever the danger was, throughout Saturday’s replay. Put his body on the line when Kerry went in search of goals.

6 Jack McCaffrey: Nowhere near the same influence on the replay as the first game. Did his defensive job but didn’t look fully fit and was forced off it half-time with a hamstring injury.

8 Eoin Murchan: Looks like a gosson, plays like a veteran. Operated in front of the Dublin full-back line in the first half and burst into the action when he picked up the break at the throw-in for the start of the second. Left scorched earth behind him as he sprinted towards the Canal End. Kept his nerve and picked his spot with a top class finish past Shane Ryan.

 

7 John Small: Picked up Sean O’Shea and restricted him to frees in the first half. O’Shea found his mark from play in the second but, all-in-all, Small broke even in the battle. Important clearance in the first half with David Clifford lurking.

6.5 Brian Fenton: Peripheral again thanks to Jack Barry but he had some good moments. Assist for Mannion’s second point and made a vital interception near his own posts as Kerry clawed for a lifeline in the second half.

7 James McCarthy: Played in midfield and was second best to David Moran in the first half. Moved to centre half-back in the second and looked more comfortable. Got forward for a point himself.

6.5 Niall Scully: Expected to do a lot of covering and support running. Goal-scorer in last year’s final against Tyrone but didn’t threaten on Saturday. Brian Ó Beaglaoich kept a close watch on him.

8.5 Ciaran Kilkenny: A composed finisher. An early point settled him and he finished with four, all from play, all with the minimum of fuss. Gave Gavin Crowley a torrid time of it and dropped into a sweeper role late in the game.

6.5 Brian Howard: Struggled to make an impact in the first half but the hard-working Raheny clubman made his presence felt in the second half when he moved into midfield.

8 Paul Mannion: Scored two early points and looked to have the beating of the Kerry defence. Faded but remerged with two more in the second. Also dropped a couple short.

8.5 Con O’Callaghan: Scored the first point of the game and finished it with four – three in the first half, the other early in the second. Had a battle royal with Tadhg Morley and tracked the Kerry full-back right into this own square.

6.5 Dean Rock: On the fringes of the game for long spells but finished with three points including the last two of the game. Jason Foley kept tabs on him but he scored from play in either half and added a 45 late in the piece.

Substitutes:

6 Diarmuid Connolly: Mixed bag. Replaced McCaffrey at half-time. The moment when he broke down a Kerry attack and played an eye-of-the-needle pass for a Kilkenny point was pure class. Otherwise he was too anxious to make an impact, looked rusty and missed a chance to win it near the end.

6 Philly McMahon: Jousting with Tommy Walsh as they waited to come on in the second half. He picked up Walsh who couldn’t turn the game.

6 Cormac Costello: Replaced Scully near the hour mark and played his part as Dublin sealed their win.

Cian O’Sullivan: Manned the barricades after coming on. Not on long enough to be rated.

Kevin McManamon: Got stuck in and hit a late wide. Not on long enough to be rated.

Star Man

Stephen Cluxton

9 The Parnell’s veteran hardly put a foot wrong. Stood tall and saved bravely from Stephen O’Brien as Kerry pressed in the second half. Bailed out his defender when Kerry bombed in high balls in the first half and was nearly flawless from kick-outs (Dublin won 23 of 25) and was able to long with accuracy when the opportunity arose. If this was his final game what a way to bow out.

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