HOLDERS Dublin breezed in to the Leinster Minor Football Championship final when they recorded a facile double scores win over Bryan Murphy’s Kildare in St Conleth’s Park last night (Wednesday), writes Ruth Chambers.
Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship Semi Final
Dublin, managed by former great Dessie Farrell, were much the stronger outfit and they tormented the Kildare rearguard for almost the duration. The first half was as good as it got for the Lilies as the sides went in all square at the break. A goal from Maynooth’s Neil Flynn in the 30th minute ensured Kildare were in touch at the break but thereafter Dublin put the foot on the pedal and pulled away with ease.
The visitors certainly had their homework done in advance. They packed bodies behind the ball when Kildare went on the attack, captain Paddy Brophy was a marked man, while the Dublin full forward line tormented the Lilies for the duration.
Dual star Cormac Costello was on fire for Farrell’s team, while Kildare had to rely heavily on their goalkeeper Colin Heaney and he didn’t let them down. The Celbridge man was perhaps Kildare’s best performer of the evening and he made a number of excellent saves to ensure Dublin didn’t prevail by an even greater margin.
Th first half was a competitive affair but in truth Dublin looked like they were always capable of taking it up a notch. However, it was the Lilies who got the scoring underway thanks to a point from Niall Kelly. The Athy man collected possession from Neil Flynn before making space for himself and firing over.
Kildare led 0-2 to 0-0 by the fourth minute, their second point coming from midfield man Paschal Connell, who split the posts from 45 minutes. Their lead was soon halved though when Dublin got off the mark through Na Fianna’s Conor McHugh.
The sides swapped points soon after when Kelly split the posts for the Lilies and and man-of-the-match Costello did likewise for the Dubs and quickly parity was restored (0-3 to 0-3) thanks to a point from the boot of Robert Gaughan.
At the midway point of the half the sides were once again level but Kildare captain Paddy Brophy fired the Lilies back in front when he raised a white flag from close range but Kildare had to wait a further 14 minutes to add to their tally.
As the rain began to fall Cormac Costello fired over the leveller and with eight minutes of the half Dublin got their noses in front for the very first time. Kildare ‘keeper Colin Heaney pulled off a fantastic save from Shane Carthy’s shot but his midfield partner Stephen Cunningham converted the resultant 45 metre kick to edge the Dubs 0-6 to 0-5 in front.
Costello added a beauty of a point a minute later and the visitors almost grabbed the game’s opening goal soon after. Niall Scully’s pass found McHugh but his effort was, once again, superbly saved by Heaney.
Down the other end Kildare did manage to find the back of the net. Moorefield’s Ryan Houlihan sent in a ball from the right and Neil Flynn rose highest to get a touch, which put the ball passed ‘keeper Lorcan Molloy and gave the Lilies a slender 1-5 to 0-7 lead.
Before the break Niall Scully pulled one back for Dublin to ensure the sides were deadlocked (0-8 to 1-5) heading for the dressing room.
After the turnaround Kildare edged in front thanks to another point from Flynn with just 30 seconds on the clock but then came the Dublin onslaught.
A point from McHugh tied it up and then came their first of two second half goals. Dual star Eric Lowndes’ pass to McHugh saw him easily get by Kildare full back Shane O’Hagan before striking to the net to give Dublin a 1-9 to 1-6 lead.
For all their dominance it wasn’t really until later in the game that Dublin really pulled away. Monasterevin’s Wayne Fitzpatrick pulled one back for the Lilies in the 42nd minute but by the time Murphy’s charges scored again Dublin had opened up a 2-13 to 1-8 lead.
The Dubs second goal came with ten minutes remaining after some terrible defending from Kildare. Costello was allowed cut in from the left before hitting the ball low past Heaney.
Substitute Ronan Fitzgibbon might have pulled a point back for Kildare in the 51st minute but it really was a lost cause at that stage.
Points from Niall Walsh, Shane Cunningham and McHugh completed Dublin’s scoring and it really could have been a lot worse for the young Lilies. In the final minute of normal time Dublin were awarded a penalty when substitute Killian Mulhall tripped Niall Scully but McHugh hit it wide but at that stage it mattered very little.
Dublin will now play Meath in the Leinster final in Croke Park in July 22, before the county’s two senior teams square up to each other in the provincial decider.
Scorers: Dublin – Cormac Costello 1-5 (1f), Conor McHugh 1-3, Niall Scully 0-3, Niall Walsh 0-2, Robert Gaughan 0-1, Shane Carthy 0-1 (1 ‘45’), Shane Cunningham 0-1.
Kildare – Neil Flynn 1-1, Niall Kelly 0-2, Paddy Brophy 0-2, Mark Sherry 0-1, Wayne Fitzpatrick 0-1, Ronan Fitzgibbon 0-1.
Dublin: Lorcan Molloy; Emile Mullan, David Byrne, Ross McGowan; Eric Lowndes, Conor Mulally, Maitias MacDonncha; Robert Gaughan, Niall Scully, Niall Walsh; Conor McHugh, Cormac Costello, Gavin Burke. Subs: Shane Cunningham replaced R Gaughan 25 mins, Eoin Fletcher replaced M MacDonncha 52 mins, Donal Gormley replaced N Walsh 56 mins, Joseph Fitzgibbon replaced C Mulally 61 mins.
Kildare: Colin Heaney; Paul Mescall, Shane O’Hagan, Eugene Mahon; Ryan Houlihan, David Hyland, David Duke; Mark Sherry, Paschal Connell; Wayne Fitzpatrick, Niall Kelly, Shane O’Flynn; Chris Healy, Paddy Brophy, Neil Flynn. Subs: Tommy O’Connell replaced S O’Hagan 38 mins, Cian McMonagle replaced S O’Flynn 41 mins, Killian Mulhall replaced P Mescall 48 mins, Ronan Fitzgibbon replaced C Healy 48 mins, Oisin Gill replaced M Sherry 54 mins.
Referee: David Gough (Meath).