/ GAA

Cluxton the hero as Dublin win All-Ireland

Updated: Sunday, 18 Sep 2011 20:16

Dublin captain Bryan Cullen - Lifts the Sam Maguire
Dublin captain Bryan Cullen - Lifts the Sam Maguire

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Goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton converted a winning free in stoppage time to give Dublin their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title since 1995.

Dublin came from behind to edge out Kerry by 1-12 to 1-11 in a tense and exciting encounter at Croke Park.

Colm Cooper slotted home a superb 19th-minute goal, but two points each from the Brogan brothers helped Dublin to a 0-06 to 1-02 interval lead.

Kerry were four points ahead when substitute Kevin McManaman scored a 64th-minute goal for Dublin.

And in a gripping finish, Cluxton kept his cool to make history as the first goalkeeper to score an All-Ireland final winner.

The Jacks are back, roared the banner on Hill 16, and Pat Gilroy’s side finally emerged from the shadows to revisit the Promised Land.

They did it in a manner befitting the steel and courage of which Gilroy has constructed his team over the past three years of toil, turbulence, torment and ultimate triumph.

This was one of the most gripping Sam Maguire Cup deciders of the modern era, a game that appeared to be heading inevitably in the direction of yet another Kerry success.

But the Dubs dug deep, and staged a resounding finish to rescue a dearly held cause and score a remarkable win, and a 23rd title, in front of their delirious supporters in a heaving Croke Park.

In front of a crowd of 82,300, Declan O’Sullivan’s early fisted point was Kerry’s only score of the opening 18 minutes, their danger men squeezed out of the game by the intensity of Dublin’s foraging, chasing and tackling.

It took the Dubs 10 minutes to get their opening score, an Alan Brogan finish from brother Bernard’s assist.

And it was the elder Brogan who shot Dublin in front in the 15th minute, punishing defensive hesitancy to thump over from 40 metres.

But the Kingdom struck for a goal in the 19th minute. Darran O’Sullivan sliced through the Dublin defence with electrifying pace, off-loaded to Cooper, and the Kerry skipper beat Stephen Cluxton with a sublime finish, planted in the corner of the net with power and precision.

Barry Cahill’s direct running gave Bernard Brogan the opportunity to get his opening score from a free, and Alan fired in a shot on goal, only to be denied by a stunning Brendan Kealy save.

Kieran Donaghy, having moved to full forward after starting at midfield, was also denied a goal by Cian O’Sullivan’s courageous block, but Donaghy's departure from the central area helped Dublin gain the upper hand, and they swept forward for Cluxton to convert a 50-metre free, his 11th point of the championship.

They pushed further ahead with two Bernard Brogan efforts, as Kerry were held scoreless for 15 minutes until Paul Galvin - in as a sub after 24 minutes - found the target.

Dublin led by 0-06 to 1-02 at the end of a low-scoring but entertaining first half, and surged further ahead with points from Bernard Brogan and Denis Bastick.

But Kerry stepped up the tempo, and after Bryan Sheehan had tapped over a free, Donaghy soared high to field Tomás Ó Sé’s route-one delivery, and with a goal at his mercy, he fisted over the bar.

Cooper brought the sides level for the third time from a 45th-minute free, but the Kingdom had a let-off when Bernard Brogan slipped in behind Killian Young, but his angled shot dipped just wide at the far post.

Kerry’s vast experience began to tell, and the value of an accurate place-kicker was emphasised by Bryan Sheehan, who stroked over a ’45 and a free, as well as thumping over an excellent effort from play.

Cooper also nailed a free as Dublin were punished for a rash of clumsy challenges, and the Kingdom eased into a four-point lead with seven minutes to play.

But the game took a sensational twist in the 64th minute when Dublin dragged themselves back into it with a superb goal.

Alan Brogan made the break, off-loaded to Kevin McManaman, and the substitute skipped past Declan O’Sullivan and fired low past Kealy.

The sides were level for a fifth time a minute later when wing-back Kevin Nolan split the posts from distance.

And when Dublin won a free in stoppage time, Cluxton stepped up to send Hill 16 into raptures.

Kerry: B Kealy, K Young, M Ó Sé, T O’Sullivan, T Ó Sé, E Brosnan, A O’Mahony, A Maher, K Donaghy (0-02), B Sheehan (0-04, 2f, 1 ’45), Darran O'Sullivan, D Walsh, C Cooper (1-03, 2f), Declan O’Sullivan (0-01), K O’Leary.

Subs: P Galvin (0-01) for O’Leary, BJ Keane for Walsh, D Bohan for Brosnan

Dublin: S Cluxton (0-02, 2f), C O'Sullivan, R O'Carroll, M Fitzsimons, J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan (0-01), D Bastick (0-01), MD MacAuley, P Flynn, B Cahill, B Cullen, A Brogan (0-02), D Connolly, B Brogan (0-06, 4f).

Subs: P McMahon for McCarthy, K McManaman (1-00) for Flynn, E O’Gara for Cahill, E Fennell for Bastick

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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