REIGNING provincial champions Dublin produced an exceptional second-half display to comfortably account for a disappointing Kildare in their Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship semi-final at St Conleth's Park, Newbridge last night.
With the contest delicately poised at the interval, Dublin seized the initiative through a wonderfully executed goal from Conor McHugh six minutes after the restart and the result was never in doubt as Kildare succumbed meekly to the Dublin's powerful running game.
In truth, the 11-point winning margin failed to accurately reflect the visitors' supremacy with McHugh and fellow dual player Cormac Costello causing headaches for a ragged Kildare rearguard that had no answer to their pace and movement.
Another of Dublin's victorious Leinster minor hurling-winning team of last Sunday, Eric Lowndes, gave a typically composed performance in what was his first football outing of the summer as the Dubs eventually squeezed the life from a laboured Kildare challenge.
That such an eventuality should occur seemed unlikely as the hosts opened up brightly with a point apiece from Niall Kelly and Mark Sherry pushing Kildare two points clear by the fourth minute.Wonderful
Costello and McHugh combined well for Dublin's opening score three minutes later and although Kelly replied immediately for Kildare, Costello and a wonderful score from Robbie Gaughan soon saw Dublin back on level terms.
The ebb and flow continued in an extremely high quality opening quarter as Paddy Brophy kicked two sublime points for the hosts but a brace of Costello frees ensured Dublin never trailed for any length of time as they gradually began to click through the gears.
A Shane Carthy '45', following a well-executed save by Colin Heaney from Stephen Cunningham, saw the Dubs take the lead for the first time and Heaney excelled again three minutes before the break in denying McHugh from close range.
To add insult to injury, Dublin were caught unawares in the 29th minute as a Ryan Houlihan counter-attack concluded with Neil Flynn rising above Lorcan Molloy to palm to the net from under the crossbar although a sumptuous Niall Scully point ensured parity at the break, 1-5 to 0-8.
A Flynn point within 40 seconds of the resumption hinted at a Kildare resurgence but Costello fired over an equaliser before he combined with Lowndes to free McHugh, who jinked through the Lily defence before committing Heaney for a goal as beautifully constructed as it was important.
Despite dominating possession for the ensuing 10 minutes, Dublin were guilty of too many turnovers and over-elaboration allowing Wayne Fitzpatrick to reduce Kildare's deficit to two points by the 43rd minute.
Two Scully points and another McHugh effort got Dublin back on track and the contest was effectively settled when Costello availed of shambolic defending to race unopposed from the sideline and calmly slot home past Heaney in the 50th minute.
Niall Walsh gained reward for an industrious display with two late points and even McHugh's missed penalty in the 58th minute of mere nuisance value as Dublin booked their final berth with Meath on the horizon in Croke Park on Sunday week.SCORERS - Dublin: C Costello 1-5 (0-2f); C McHugh 1-3; N Scully 0-3; N Walsh 0-2; R Gaughan, S Carthy ('45'), Shane Cunningham 0-1 each. Kildare: N Flynn 1-1; N Kelly, P Brophy 0-2; M Sherry, W Fitzpatrick, R Fitzgibbon 0-1 each. DUBLIN: L Molloy; E Mullan, D Byrne, R McGowan; E Lowndes, C Mulally, M Mac Donncha; Stephen Cunningham, S Carthy; R Gaughan, G Burke, N Walsh; C McHugh, C Costello, N Scully. Subs: Shane Cunningham for Gaughan (25), E Fletcher for Mac Donncha (52), D Gormley for Walsh (56), J Fitzgibbon for Mulally (61). KILDARE: C Heaney; P Mescall, S O'Hagan, E Mahon; R Houlihan, D Hyland, D Duke; M Sherry, P Connell; S O'Flynn, N Kelly, W Fitzpatrick; C Healy, P Brophy, N Flynn. Subs: T O'Connell for O'Hagan (38), C McMonagle for O'Flynn (42), K Mulhall for Mescall (48), R Fitzgibbon for Healy (48), O Gill for Sherry (55). REF: D Gough (Meath).