Kerry have measure of Dubs
All-Ireland champions learn lessons to put record straight against the Blues
GIVEN it was a League game at the beginning of March in which snow fell, the reaction of the Kerry crowd in Fitzgerald Stadium to the full-time whistle which confirmed a 0-15 to 1-10 win over Dublin might ordinarily be considered disproportional.
But so fractious, to the point of spiteful, had the exchanges sporadically been - not to mention Dublin's recent enjoyment of superiority over Kerry - that they cheered this one with brio.
With good cause.
Last year, Kerry lost their first three League games, retired a cluster of their finest ever footballers, and won an All-Ireland with a load of kids.
Yet here they were, giving it to Dublin in Killarney, where they had lost their last two meetings with their recent bête noire, just because...well, they could.
They did it principally through organised and skilful tackling from a brilliant defence they don't apparently possess.
They did it, also, through targeting the Dublin kick-out, a traditional party piece of theirs...but more of that later.
"Dublin have a great record again us in the recent past," Eamonn Fitzmaurice noted afterwards.
"I think going back to the 2011 (All-Ireland) final, I think we haven't beat them once since in the league, other than February 2012.
"Other than that, league and championship they've beaten us every time since.
"Big motivation from our point of view to win the game today and to try and arrest that record," he admitted.
"Dublin were anxious to hold onto it for obvious reasons.
"It was always going to be a physical encounter and that's the way it turned out."
It did. But back to those Dublin kick-outs.
To give Seán Currie his credit, he made one brilliant save from Paul Geaney and the men he found from restarts, he earned.
But through a mix of Kerry's zealous organisation, the schizophrenic weather conditions, and some poor execution from Currie, Dublin coughed up five points directly from their own kick-outs and a couple of good - if ultimately spurned - goal chances.
"When we got on top of it - after half time especially it definitely - gave us a platform to attack Dublin," Fitzmaurice agreed.
"To be fair to Dublin, when they do get it away they are so effective.
"They are excellent at getting it up the field and getting scores as they did a couple of times in the first half.
"In the second half we did a bit better on it all right."
Jim Gavin accepted that Dublin had struggled with the restarts, adding "but then we found our ground again," although the difference between his team's productivity in this area with the currently sidelined Stephen Cluxton and without him is, even allowing for the elements, drastic.
It wasn't the only reason Dublin lost yesterday but it was a big one.
They actually led by 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time but Kerry scored eight of the first nine points of the second half, chiefly through their snaffling of the Dublin kick-out.
Kerry's finishing was excellent, too, particularly in the second half, when the snow/sleet/hailstones fell and Fitzgerald Stadium looked like the epicentre of an atmospheric apocolypse.
Dublin had good patches but none of their starting six forwards scored more than a point from play.
And without their outriders; Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn, Alan Brogan or Michael Darragh Macauley, Dublin players found themselves with only Jack McCaffrey as any sort of support/running threat against a well-drilled, sturdy defence.
Save for Kevin McManamon or Eoghan O'Gara potentially mowing down a gang of Kerry defenders, goals were going to be impossible to create and when Dublin did eventually engineer one, it was those two who combined before a fortunate richochet off Bernard Brogan sent the ball to the Kerry net.
It would, all told, have been something of a crime had Dublin wrangled a result, though one they would have savoured.
It was unruly at times too.
Kieran Donaghy and Rory O'Carroll went at it as usual.
Neither claiming an individual victory or, for that matter, ceding any ground and Eddie Kinsella was busy.
For his part, McCaffrey was excellent early on, probing for space and taking two points, though he also let Johnny Buckley in for a pair himself.
Kerry tried to force Currie to kick to midfield and when he did, David Moran and in particular, Anthony Maher, were excellent.
Allianz Football League Division 1
Kerry 0-15 v Dublin 1-10
SCORERS - Kerry: B Sheehan 0-6 (4f, 1 '65), J Buckley, S O'Brien, BJ Keane 0-2 each, D Moran, M Geaney, P Geaney 0-1 each. Dublin: B Brogan 1-2 (0-1f), J McCaffrey 0-2, S Carthy, C Kilkenny, T Brady, D Rock (f), K McManamon, E O'Gara 0-1.
KERRY: B Kealy; P Kilkenny, M Griffin, F FItzgerald; J Lyne, J Sherwood, P Murphy; A Maher, D Moran; M Geaney, B Sheehan, J Buckley; S O'Brien, K Donaghy, P Geaney. Subs: BJ Keaney for M Geaney (h-t), K Young for Murphy (34 black card), T Walsh for P Geaney (59), S Enright for Kilkenny (61), A Fitzgerald for Sheehan (64), P O'Connor for O'Brien (68).
DUBLIN: S Currie; M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, D Daly; J Cooper, P McMahon, J McCaffrey; D Bastick, S Carthy; T Brady, D Rock, C Kilkenny; K McManamon, E O'Gara, C Costello. Subs: C O'Sullivan for Bastick (15 black card), B Brogan for Costello (h-t), P Andrews for Rock (45), N Devereux for McMahon (53 black card), B Fenton for Brady (57), E Lowndes for Cooper (64).
WIDES - Kerry: 5 (5 + 0). Dublin: 8 (4 + 4).
BOOKED - Kerry: 2 (Donaghy 46, Maher 74). Dublin: 5 (Brady 15, Costello 28, O'Carroll 46, O'Gara 68, Brogan 74).
BLACK CARD - Kerry: 2 (Murphy 34, Sherwood 69). Dublin: 2 (Bastick 15, McMahon 53).
SENT OFF - Kerry: 0. Dublin: 1 (Fitzsimons).
REF: E Kinsella (Laois). ATT: 6,000
MAN OF THE MATCH: A Maher (Kerry)