A late 35-metre free from Kildare forward James Kavanagh earned his side a replay against Dublin in the final of the Leinster Under-21 Football Championship at Páirc Tailteann in Navan today (Dublin 1-04 Kildare 0-07).

Tommy Lyons' Metropolitans were in the driving seat early in the second half, however, the reigning champions let a three-point lead slip as the Lilywhites clawed their way back into contention.

Two Johnny Noonan frees after 30 seconds and 16 minutes opened Dublin's account, but the free-running forward tandem of Kavanagh (12 minutes) and Tommy Archibold (24) had Kildare level at 0-02 apiece.

Wing forward Graham Cullen, arguably Dublin’s best attacker of the afternoon, had a goal chance brilliantly tipped around the posts by Kildare stopper Thomas Corley in the 22nd minute before Darryl Flynn’s first of a 0-02 tally came two minutes later.

Cullen, however, was to make amends in the 26th minute when his fisted pass drew the last line of Kildare defence. Onrushing midfielder Declan O’Mahoney collected and rifled the ball to the net to give the Dubs the half-time lead (1-02 to 0-03).

Ballyboden star O’Mahoney pointed seven minutes after the restart, but that was to be the only Dublin score for 15 minutes.

Kildare took a stranglehold territorially and Derek McCormack struck over from 40 metres out in the 38th minute. 11 minutes later Kildare were level thanks to points from substitute forward Eamon McCormack and Flynn (1-03 to 0-06).

Cullen’s second, with eight minutes remaining, put the Dubs back in front. But Kavanagh had the final say, meaning the sides must meet again next Saturday at the same venue (5pm throw-in).

Filed by James Boylan