WE came across a young footballer last season in this very same competition by the name of Ciaran Kilkenny. The Dublin dual star shone brightly against Kildare last term before picking up a hand injury that forced him out of later clashes. On Wednesday last at Parnell Park we had the privilege of seeing the Castleknock lad again and make no mistake about it he is one for the future, and not too far in the future at that.
This lad looks to have everything. Big, strong, too feet, a fine pair of hands and he knows where the posts are, finding them no less than on eleven occasions against Kildare to blow The Lilies out of the water in this Leinster Minor Football Championship semi final.
But in case you think this Dublin side in a one man brigade forget it. This is as big, as skilful, as physical and direct minor county side I have had the pleasure to see for many a long day.
Whether they can go all the way, not only in Leinster, remains to be seen but on the evidence on what we saw last Wednesday evening, it is going to take something very special indeed to stop this Dessie Farrell managed side.
Kildare came into this contest fully aware of the signals that had been emanating from the Capital but at the same time were confident they were in with a real chance having seen off both Longford and Offaly in some style.
Any notion that the Lilies had evaporated quickly and decisively as The Dubs came out of the blocks as if their lives depended on it.
Three points inside three minutes from Kilkenny, Fullam and Kilkenny again sent out early signals that Kildare were up against it.
To their credit they hit back with two fine points, the first a lovely effort from wing back David Duke and the second a fine point from Paddy Brophy.
Dublin it seemed though, sensed a little trouble and upped their game with their no nonsense direct play and added four points without reply to lead 0-7 to 0-2 after some sixteen minutes.
Kildare then had their best period of the entire game, hitting three points on the trot from Barry Coffey (after Brophy was fouled), a second magnificent free from Coffey and a third from Niall Kelly to give themselves much hope with six minutes left on the clock and scoreboard reading Dublin 0-7 Kildare 0-5.
Suddenly Farrell’s side up their game and making space for themselves around the middle with consumate ease they added four points before the break to lead 0-11 to 0-5.
Any chance the visitors had disappeared quicker than the evening sun as they closed off the game with five points inside the opening five minutes to extend that lead to nine.
Kildare, who never gave up in fairness, hit back with two white flags from Niall Kelly (free) and Tony Gibbons before the inevitable happened mid-way through when Paul Mannion found the net following a sweeping Dublin move that began back in their own half back line to stretch that lead to 1-16 to 0-7.
It was unfortunatley only a matter of how far the home side would win at this stage and while Niall Kelly (free), Fergal Conway, Dean King and finally David Hyland all managed white flags, this most impressive Dublin side added another eight ‘whites’ of their own to record an emphatic win on a score line of Dublin 1-24 Kildare 0-11.
As Kildare manager, Bryan Murphy, said after the game there can no excuses whatsoever, the best side won but just how good they are we will have to wait and see.
On this display they will take a lot of beating. Immensely bulky for a minor side they are fast, tough, direct and play a lovely style of football that will give any side around a run for their money and while Ciaran Kilkenny was undoubtedly the star of the show they had other fine performers in Real, McCaffrey, mid fielders O Conghaile and O’Higgins while up front Ivory, Costello (son of Dublin supremo John) and Campbell all impressed.
For Kildare a shattering blow for all concerned, the opposition on the day were simply in a different league and try and all as the Kildare lads did, they just could not match the physicality, strength and play of Dublin on the day. Few stars in white but full back Shane O’Hagan certainly did all he could to step the tide while others who caught the eye on and off on the evening included Barry Egan, Paddy Brophy, Niall Kelly while Barry Coffey converted a couple of excellent frees.
Dublin, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-11 (4 frees), Gavin Ivory 0-5 (1 45), Paul Mannion 1-1, Cormac Costello 0-3, David Campbell 0-2, Scott Fullam 0-1, Jack McCaffrey 0-1.
Kildare, Nial Kelly 0-3 (2 frees), Barry Coffey 0-2 (2 frees), Paddy Brophy 0-1, David Duke 0-1, David Hyland 0-1, Tony Gibbons 0-1, Dean King 0-1, Fergal Conway 0-1
Ross O’Hanlon; Graham Hannigan, Robert McDaid, Rutherson Real; Eric Lowndes, John Small, Jack McCaffrey; Emmett O Conghaile, Patrick O’Higgins; Cormac Costello, David Campbell, Gavin Ivory; Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Scott Fullam. Subs: Andrew O’Brien for Fullam (53 minute); Conor Meaney for Costello (56 minute); David Byrne for Real (57 minute); Ross Mullins for Kilkenny (59 minute); Matias MacDonncha for O’Higgins (60 minute).
Shane McNamara (Celbridge); Barry Egan (Clane), Shane O’Hagan (Kill), Sean Higgins (Maynooth); David Duke (Kilcock), James Murray (Moorefield), David Hyland (Athy); Gavin Farrell (Castledermot), Daniel Flynn (Balyna); Paddy Brophy (Celbridge), Fergal Conway (Celbridge), Barry Coffey (Sarsfields); Tony Gibbons (Athy), Niall Kelly (Athy), Dean King (Suncroft). Subs: Conor Brady (Celbridge) for Coffey (40 minute); Tommy O’Connell (Rathangan) for Flynn (44 minute); Sean Christianson (Clane) for Farrell (47 minute); Gerry Keegan for King (49 minutes); Emmet Ralph (Sallins) for Murray (56 minute).
Damian Maher (Westmeath).
•We though they had gone away permanently but the dreaded black stripes on the Kildare togs reappeared for this game, why I just don’t know.