Allianz FL D1: Dublin and Kerry deadlocked after thriller
Allianz Football League Division 1
DUBLIN 1-19 KERRY 1-19
By John Harrington at Croke Park
It feels like these two teams are destined to give us a rivalry for the ages.
This match didnt have the suffocating intensity of last years drawn and replayed All-Ireland Finals, but it was still a lot more full-blooded than might have been expected from a Round 1 League match between two teams not long back from long-haul holidays.
Neither team spared one another when it came to the physical stakes, and some of the scores taken were of the highest calibre too.
There was even a dramatic denouement as Kerry snatched an equaliser seven minutes into injury-time when David Clifford held his nerve to land a last-gasp free won by substitute Micheal Burns.
Some wondered would the responsibility of being given the Kerry captaincy on the same week he turned 21 weigh heavily on his young shoulders. Clearly not.
The Dublin supporters in Croke Park werent best pleased Kerry were given time for one last attack, but a draw was the fairest result, all things considered.
Both teams had dominant spells at different stages, and Dublin were the quicker team to find their rhythm in the early running.
From the get-go Brian Fenton gave them a platform in the middle third and much of the play flowed towards Kerrys goalposts.
By the 15th minute they were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead, with their points coming from five different scorers.
The pick of the bunch was a sweet left-footed effort on the run by Conor McHugh, who was a late addition to the Dublin team in place of Paul Mannion.
David Clifford of Kerry, 14, shoots past Dublin's Eoin Murchan, 7 and goalkeeper Evan Comerford to score a goal in the 18th minute of the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 1 match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin.
McHugh has been knocking around the Dublin panel for a while now without getting an extended run in the first XV.
Dessie Farrell knows him better than most because theyre Na Fianna club-mates, so itll be interesting to see whether hell feature during this League campaign more than he has in the past.
Just when you were wondering was this match going to be a tad more one-sided than might have been expected, Kerry started to find a groove.
That was thanks mainly to the electric double-act of James ODonoghue and David Clifford who were giving their supporters jolts of excitement whenever they got on the ball.
ODonoghue landed a beauty of a left-footed point from wide on the right before Clifford brought the teams level with an absolutely sublime goal.
Cutting in from the left-side, he held off David Byrne with a strong hand, steadied himself with an agile left-footed solo, and then drove the ball low to the net with the same boot.
But if Clifford and ODonoghue were thrilling at one end of the pitch, Brian Fenton was doing the very same at the other end.
Kerry couldnt contain him no matter how they detailed to mark him. At first it was Adrian Spillane before an injury forced him off early, and when Sean OShea was switched onto him he fared no better.
Fenton hit four points in the first half alone, and there was almost an imperious swagger about all of them. At times it was like watching an U-14 playing against a gaggle of U-12s.
Another ODonoghue point had pushed Kerry one ahead before Dublin struck the front again when Dean Rock won and converted a penalty after he was felled by a rash Brian Beaglaoich tackle.
It was entertaining, end to end action, from there to the half-time whistle as both teams attacked with pace whenever they had the ball.
Kerry were marginally having the better of it now, but, typically, it was Fenton who had the last say of the half when another fine point gave his team a 1-10 to 1-9 lead at the break.
Dublins Eric Lowndes had been sin-binned just before half-time, and Kerry made the most of their 10-minute numerical advantage after the break.
An emboldened Paul Murphy drove forward from his sweeper position to kick two really impressive points in quick succession, and then lively substitute Liam Kearney landed another nice score to push Kerry two ahead.
Kerry were really building momentum now and it looked like the balance of power had shifted decisively in their favour when Dublin were reduced to 14 men on 56 minutes.