Image courtesy Niall O'Connell
Dublin withstood some late Kildare pressure to eventually prevail by five points in their Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship final at Laois Hire O’Moore Park on Wednesday evening.
In doing so, the Dubs secured their 35th provincial title at this grade and they proved worthy winners as they played the more consistent and cohesive football throughout with the concession of two second-half goals keeping Kildare briefly in the hunt.
On a night when ten players contributed on the scoreboard, Lenny Cahill took the scoring honours for Dublin with seven points while both Cillian Emmett and Eoghan Costello offered great assurance in the central defensive positions.
Despite playing into the breeze, it was Dublin that impressed most from the outset with some patient approach play from Luke O’Boyle allowing Noah Byrne the chance to pop over the opening score in the 1st minute.
It wasn’t long before Senan Ryan doubled that advantage with a typically classy effort with Kildare replying in an instant through Harry Redmond.
Both sides were enjoying generous amounts of possession as Alex Carolan restored Dublin’s two-point lead in the 9th minute but it proved their final score for fourteen minutes as their opponents began to settle into the encounter.
An Evan Donnelly point halved their deficit by the 12th minute and an excellent free from goalkeeper Cathal Moore saw the Lillies restore parity five minutes later.
With the contest punctuated by far too many frees, it was difficult for either side to find their flow but Byrne’s second score of the half in the 23rd minute pre-empted a telling end to the half for the holders.
It was at this stage that Cahill seized control of matters with four points in as many minutes, two sumptuous efforts from play alongside a brace of frees, as Dublin raced into a five-point lead by the 29th minute.
Their dominance of the Kildare kick-out yielded a further score before the interval, this time via corner-back Sean Keogh, as they moved 0-9 to 0-3 clear at half-time.
Kildare were hoping for a bright restart and while they enjoyed a monopoly on possession in the early stages of the third quarter, their sole reward was a point by Donnelly.
In contrast, Dublin made the most of their limited possession with a Luke O’Boyle ‘45’ followed by scores from Joshue King and another Cahill point.
However, a fine Tadhg Donlan goal in the 40th reignited the Kildare challenge and they brought their deficit down to just three points thanks to frees by Joey Cunningham and Moore.
Dublin’s response was impressive, pulling away again via scores by Byrne, Cahill, Ryan Mitchell and Shane Mullarkey as they looked to be easing their way to victory.
A Harry Curley score cancelled out a Cunningham effort at the opposite end but there was another sting in the tail as Evan Boyle took full advantage of some hesitancy in the Dublin defence to crash home past the helpless Cillian Murray in the 57th minute.
Dublin dusted themselves down once again through a point from lively substitute Mullarkey with Cahill, fittingly, having the final word as he converted a free in added time to complete an encouraging and successful provincial campaign for Dublin.
Scorers – Dublin: L Cahill 0-7 (4f), N Byrne 0-3, S Mullarkey 0-2, L O’Boyle (‘45’), S Ryan, A Carolan, S Keogh, J Young, R Mitchell, H Curley 0-1 apiece. Kildare: T Donlan 1-1, E Boyle 1-0, C Moore (2f), J Cunningham (1f), E Donnelly 0-2 each, H Redmond 0-1.
Dublin: C Murray; S Keogh, C Emmet, J O’Sullivan; J Young, E Costello, R Mitchell; S Ryan, A Carolan; P Coleman, L O’Boyle, N Byrne; L Cahill, H Curley, P Curry. Subs: S Mullarkey for Curry (43), C O’Connor for Young (50), A O’Reilly for Coleman (51), C McAweeney for O’Boyle (61).
Kildare: C Moore; L Kelly, J Donnelly, M Chambers; R Murray, R Lawlor, C Moran; E Boyle, D Kinch; J Cunningham, S Murphy, H Redmond; E Donnelly, D Mullahy, T Donlan. Subs: P O'Dea for Murray (half-time), L O'Connor for Kinch (half-time), C Keaveny for Mullahy (half-time), J McCabe for Murphy (40), R Kelly for Donnelly (56).
Referee: Andrew Smith (Meath).