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Con O’Callaghan Hat-trick helps Senior Footballers Past Kerry

Con O’Callaghan Hat-trick helps Senior Footballers Past Kerry

Sat, 24th February 2024

DUBLIN 3-18 

KERRY 1-14 

A hat-trick from Con O’Callaghan proved pivotal as Dublin registered an impressive ten-point win over Kerry in their Allianz National Football League Division 1 Round 4 encounter at Croke Park on Saturday evening.

Having picked up their first points of the campaign a week previously, Dublin made another positive move up the table as they delivered their most compelling performance of the year to date.

O’Callaghan, captain in the absence of James McCarthy, sparkled in the opening-half with his 2-3 personal tally helping push the Dubs to a nine-point half-time advantage, with all of the remaining forwards also contributing on the scoreboard.

Kerry responded well upon the resumption, bringing their arrears to a manageable three points by the end of the third quarter, but O’Callaghan effectively ended the contest with another clinical finish in the 63rd minute.

The Dubs produced some scintillating attacking play in the first quarter with Sean Bugler setting the tone in the opening minute when cutting inside and splitting the uprights from thirty metres.

A Ross McGarry point in the 4th minute doubled the home advantage before Kerry got on the board through Sean O’Shea a minute later.

However, from the resultant restart, Dublin made a telling incision down the Cusack Stand side as Bugler’s pass to O’Callaghan saw the Cuala star dummy inside before finding the roof of Shane Ryan’s goal.

Kerry responded well initially to that setback, scoring two points in quick succession through O’Shea and David Clifford, but their defensive issues were all too evident as O’Callaghan (free) and Paddy Small added to the Dublin tally.

The visitors’ woes increased in the 14th minute when referee Conor Lane’s decision following a foul on Small was upgraded to a penalty following a consultation with his umpires with O’Callaghan doing the necessary from the resultant spot kick.

Dublin continued to threaten from every attack with Ciaran Kilkenny, O’Callaghan and Small moving their side nine points clear by the 20th minute with O’Callaghan denied his hat-trick by a smart save from Ryan two minutes previously.

A Clifford ‘mark’ briefly stalled Dublin’s progress but Niall Scully and O’Callaghan replied at the opposite end to push Dublin’s lead into double digits.

The half ended in a relatively even manner as Cillian Burke, O’Shea and Gavin White kept the Kerry scoreboard ticking over but points from Bugler and Kilkenny ensured a healthy and deserved 2-11 to 0-8 interval lead for Dublin.

The visitors needed a fast start to the second-half and it duly arrived through a brace of points in the opening four minutes from O’Shea.

As a consequence, Dublin were slightly more pragmatic in their approach with O’Callaghan dropping deep to help settle matters in terms of primary possession.

However, that failed to tighten matters sufficiently and in the 42nd minute Kerry raced through far too comfortably and Joe O’Connor put the finishing touches to the move by rounding David O’Hanlon and netting from close range.

Suddenly, Dublin’s lead was just four points and they were struggling to replicate their attacking sheen from the opening half but Kilkenny helped settle matters with a sumptuous effort off his left in the 44th minute.

The Kingdom continued to chip away at their deficit through O’Connor, Jason Foley and O’Shea, making the points at the opposite end from Small and Lee Gannon all the more valuable.

The introduction from the bench of Brian Howard and Tom Lahiff also brought stability with the latter kicking a ‘mark’ in the 61st minute to leave his side with a five-point buffer.

Two minutes later, the hosts could rest easy and O’Callaghan once again left the away defence chasing shadows and his subsequent finish was placed superbly inside the right-hand upright of Ryan.

With the points in the bag, Dublin finished the contest in cruise control with Brian Fenton and Bugler adding gloss to the scoreline by the final whistle.

Scorers – Dublin: C O’Callaghan 3-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), S Bugler, C Kilkenny (1 mark), P Small 0-3 apiece; L Gannon, B Fenton, R McGarry, T Lahiff (mark), N Scully 0-1 apiece. Kerry: S O’Shea 0-6 (2f, 1 ‘45’), J O’Connor 1-1, D Clifford 0-3 (1 mark), J Foley, G White, D Geaney, C Burke 0-1 apiece.

Dublin: D O’Hanlon; S MacMahon, T Clancy, E Murchan; L Gannon, C Murphy, J Small; B Fenton, P Ó Cofaigh Byrne; N Scully, S Bugler, C Kilkenny; P Small, C O’Callaghan, R McGarry. Subs: T Lahiff for Ó Cofaigh Byrne (46), B Howard for MacMahon (53), L O’Dell for McGarry (57), G McEneaney for Murchan (59), D Newcombe for J Small (Temporary Sub, 68), K McGinnis for Clancy (71).

Kerry: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, D Casey; D Bourke, T Morley, G White; D O’Connor, J O’Connor; D Moynihan, P Clifford, C Burke; D Clifford, S O’Shea, D Geaney. Subs: P Murphy for D Burke (half-time), T Brosnan for Geaney (50), K Evans for Burke (57), B O’Sullivan for J O’Connor (59), S O’Brien for Moynihan (64).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).

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