McManamon ‘Lightning’ strikes twice to set up Mayo All-Ireland final date

Kevin McMenamon

Kevin McMenamon

Dublin 3-18 – Kerry 3-11

Dublin are back in their second All-Ireland final in three years after a flattering seven-point All-Ireland semi-final victory over Kerry at a capacity Croke Park last month. After more than a week of anticipation and hype the two teams with the greatest rivalry in the sport produced another epic encounter that will be talked about for decades.

The outcome was also in the melting-pot until Dublin super-sub Kevin McManamon’s decisive 68th minute goal ended the Munster champions hopes of reaching their first All-Ireland final since 2011. A late goal from the same player also denied Kerry that year in the All-Ireland final and when McManamon raced on to a loose ball from a Michael Darragh McAuley deflected pass, the Dublin substitute went on a solo-run before lobbing Kerry goal-keeper Brendan Kealy for a match-winning score. Soon followed by a point from man-of-the-match Diarmuid Connolly fellow Dublin attacker and late substitute Eoghan O’Gara scored Dublin’s third goal from the last kick of a pulsating and memorable match.

Similar to the other All-Ireland finalists Mayo in the previous week’s semi-final it had been a real genuine test for the free-scoring young Dublin team who were pushed all the way by a Kerry team almost completely written off before the game. Although the Leinster champions also conceded three goals in the opening twenty minutes they trailed by just points at the interval when the score was 3-5 to 1-9 in favour of Kerry.

But despite Kerry opening up a four-point lead in the third quarter Dublin responded well with five unanswered points to take the lead for the first time since James O’Donoghue’s goal in the eight minute.

O’Donoghue, Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper, Donncha Walsh, Declan and Darran O’Sullivan all produced a sparking first half performance. But the switch of Dublin midfielder Cian O’Sullivan to centre back at half-time proved to be a real ‘game-changer’ for the 2011 All-Ireland champions who now look forward to a clash with Mayo for the Sam Maguire Cup on September 22nd. See preview inside.