FL1 final: historic four in a row for dazzling Dubs

April 24, 2016

Dublin's Bernard Brogan and Marc O'Se of Kerry.
©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan.

Dublin claimed their fourth successive league crown with a comprehensive 2-18 to 0-13 victory over 14-man Kerry in front of a full house at Croke Park.

If anything, the gap between these two sides seems to have widened since September's All-Ireland final. Paul Flynn (67) and substitute Eric Lowndes (73) hit late goals for the all-conquering Dubs, who eased to their twelfth league title after their opponents had centre back Aidan O'Mahony sent off in the 50th minute.

Just a point separated the teams with 15 minutes left, but the defending champions then assumed total control to take the spoils with a record league final crowd looking on. While the red card was a pivotal moment in that the floodgates eventually opened as the 14 men tired, Dublin were always in control and never looked troubled.

With Bernard Brogan (3) and Man of the Match Ciaran Kilkenny (2) providing half their opening-period tally, the holders led by 0-10 to 0-8 at the interval. The sides had been level six times in that first half.

Dean Rock - a late replacement for Paddy Andrews in the Dubs XV - clipped over the opening point after 90 seconds and Kilkenny added Dublin's second point with his left boot after Stephen O'Brien had equalised.

O'Brien tied the scores up again on eleven minutes and Peter Crowley surged forward five minutes later to kick the Kingdom ahead for the first time. Rock's excellent free was followed by an exchange between the two Coopers: Colm sold an outrageous dummy before lofting a trademark strike between the Hill 16 uprights but Dubs full back Jonny equalised within seconds - 0-4 each after 20 minutes.

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the trophy. ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

Kilkenny's second super strike had the holders ahead again on 22 minutes but Kerry were level again when Darran O'Sullivan blazed a shot over the bar from a difficult angle moments later. Bryan Sheehan's free was cancelled out by quickfire points from Bernard Brogan and Brian Fenton, before the former pointed off his left to leave two between them for the first time, 0-8 to 0-6 - an advantage that would not be relinquished.

Brogan swung over his third point four minutes from the break following an exchange between Donnchadh Walsh and Paul Mannion and Sheehan's second converted free closed the first-half scoring.

Diarmuid Connolly extended the gap to three within ten seconds of the resumption and Rock popped over a free on 38 minutes after Shane Enright (yellow) caught John Small, 0-12 to 0-8. The Kingdom rallied with points from Crowley, Kieran Donaghy and O'Sullivan but Rock replied with a nonchalant free in the 48th minute to re-establish the two-point gap.

The Munster champions were reduced to 14 men in the 50th minute when O'Mahony was shown a straight red card for flattening Jonny Cooper off the ball and Paul Murphy halved the gap before Dublin moved three ahead by the hour mark thanks to points from substitute Kevin McManamon and Rock (from a penalty after Enright felled Mannion).

Sheehan (free) and Brogan pointed at either end; substitute Cormac Costello added the insurance point; and Flynn smashed home the games's opening goal after Kerry custodian Brendan Kealy placed his short kick-out straight to him in the 66th minute - 1-17 to 0-13.

McManamon claimed his second and sub Lowndes rifled the ball to the roof of the net in the third minute of added time to close the scoring on a historic, record-breaking day at GAA Headquarters. Twenty-two games unbeaten for Dublin, who still hold every piece of silverware available to them and are starting to monopolise the game.

Dublin - S Cluxton; P McMahon, J Cooper (0-1), David Byrne; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J Small; B Fenton (0-1), D Bastick; P Flynn (1-0), D Rock (0-5, 4f), C Kilkenny (0-2); P Mannion (0-1), D Connolly (0-1), B Brogan (0-4). Subs: M D Macauley for D Bastick, K McManamon (0-2) for D Connolly, C Costello (0-1) for D Rock, M Fitzsimons for P McMahon, E Lowndes (1-0) for P Mannion, D Daly for J Small.

Kerry - B Kealy; M O Se, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley (0-2), A O'Mahony, F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy (0-1), D Moran; B Sheehan (0-3f), P Murphy (0-1), D Walsh (0-1); D O'Sullivan (0-2), C Cooper (0-1), S O'Brien (0-2). Subs: K Young for F Fitzgerald, B O'Sullivan for D Walsh, J Lyne for M Griffin, B J Keane for S O'Brien, P O'Connor for P Crowley, M Geaney for P Murphy.

Referee - E Kinsella.

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