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Monday 25 September 2017

Dawson drives dubs fightback

Forward's virtuoso display helps Blues claim Lilies replay

A virtuoso display from full-forward Harry Dawson helped Dublin claim a deserved 1-13 to 0-16 draw against Kildare in their ESB Leinster Minor Football Championship quarter-final at a balmy St Conleth's Park, Newbridge on Saturday afternoon.

With Ciarán Kilkenny hors de combat with a broken thumb, Dawson made light of the influential Castleknock player's absence with a superb performance, leading the line with great intelligence and bravery, amassing 1-7 from play, including three crucial points in extra-time.

The replay, provisionally scheduled for Parnell Park next Saturday evening, was the least that Dublin merited after twice recovering from sizeable deficits and, after trailing by five points entering injury time, they'll be more than happy with their afternoon's work.

Kildare will be frustrated by their inability to close the game off but, in truth, they were fortunate to be leading by such a margin late on. Had Dublin availed of any of the numerous goal chances that came their way, with Kildare's goalkeeper Mark Donnellan pulling off two superb saves late in the first-half to keep his side in contention after a poor opening half, things could have been very different.



STRENGTHENED

Dublin, who were strengthened by the inclusion of goalkeeper Colin Murphy and Na Fianna's Niall McGovern at corner-back, were rewarded for a bright start as Dawson gave early notice of his intentions with a smartly taken point on three minutes.

Their lead was doubled five minutes later when Fearghal Duffy, not for the first or last time, used his pace to great effect, easily evading his marker, John Comerford, before popping over the bar with his left foot.

Such was Comerford's obvious discomfort with marking Duffy, the Kildare captain was eventually switched from centre-back to wing-back on 16 minutes, as Duffy found himself in acres of room to feed Dawson cleverly for Dublin's third point.

By that stage Dublin were controlling most of the play, with Danny Byrne competing strongly in midfield, and the St Maur's player's nasty looking ankle injury towards the end of normal time will not help the Dubs' chances of prevailing in the replay.

Despite their dominance, Dublin could not reflect their superiority on the scoreboard with Donnellan denying both Adam Caffrey and Byrne with two breathtaking saves and, although Dawson and Adam Caffrey added points for Dublin, a wonderful Paul Cribben score on 27 minutes ensured the hosts trailed by just two points at the interval.

Driven on by Sean Hurley from midfield, Kildare were a much improved outfit after the break and points from Philip Cocoman, Hurley and Liam McGovern had Dublin reeling before Duffy offered a timely reminder of Dublin's threat on the counterattack with a superb solo score on 37 minutes, after excellent approach play from corner-back Michael Durkan.

With the Lilywhites monopolising possession, full-forward Pádraig Fogarty began enjoying an improved service and his point on 44 minutes had the hosts ahead for the first time in the match.

Three minutes later, Dublin were denied a goal when Seán Stewart's attempt came crashing back off the crossbar with Donnellan for once helpless and Kildare capitalised on their good fortune through another Fogarty score and two points from Fionn Dowling.

With Kildare rampant at this stage, Fogarty, sub Niall Kelly and Cocoman helped extend their lead and, although Ryan Pasquel spurned a gilt-edged goal chance immediately upon introduction, Dawson goaled after good work from Duffy and Pasquel on 60 minutes to throw Kildare's perceived composure into disarray.

When Duffy's free left the minimum between the sides, a lengthy delay for Byrne's injury allowed Dublin to summon up one final attack with Stewart showing fine composure to kick over the levelling point ensuring extra-time.

Kildare looked to have seized the initiative with early points from Fergal Conway, Dowling and Fogarty but Dawson continued to impress with two crucial scores of his own at the end of the first period.

It was left to Dawson, following another pass from Duffy, to bring Dublin back on level terms in the 76th minute and despite some late pressure and two genuine claims for free-kicks, Dublin couldn't deliver the knockout blow as both teams deservedly live to fight another day.

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