There was a huge build up to the 2017 Division football final and most people thought Dublin would be champions but it was Kerry who lifted the cup.
The Unbeaten Streak Is Over! The ‘Drive for Five’ is stopped! Dublin and Kerry entertained in Croke Park but the Kingdom finally put one over on the Metropolitans. There were big hits, niggly fouls and three players black carded. But two teams went to attack in this National League Final.
There was nearly extra-time! Kerry’s Anthony Maher received his marching orders for a jersey pull allowing Dean Rock a match saving opportunity. Many times, Rock pulled a game out of the fire but his effort in the 74th minute came off the woodwork and Kerry were champions.
The teams were level three times in the opening 15 minutes before points for Ciaran Reddin and Ciaran Kilkenny gave Dublin a two-point buffer. That margin remained hitting the half-hour with the All-Ireland champions 0-8 to 0-6 in front though Stephen Cluxton made a save from David Moran.
Kerry’s Jonathan Lyne and Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly received black cards before Reddin and Kilkenny gave Dublin a 0-10 to 0-9 interval lead. Jack Barry kicked Kerry’s last score but it started a run including four Paul Geaney points pushing Kerry 0-15 to 0-10 ahead on 52 minutes.
Paul Mannion ended Dublin’s 18-minute drought but the Leinster side were playing catch-up. Michael Geaney and Donnchadh Walsh kept Kerry ahead with Rock replying twice. But the game to play for nine minutes from time when Mannion drilled low to the net after a Philly McMahon block.
Paul Geaney and Moran hit back for Kerry before Rock got two minors. Dublin couldn’t level as Bryan Sheehan got their 20th white flag while Mannion restored the one point margin. Rock missed the opportunity to force extra-time and Kerry’s lifted their 20th league title.
Kerry – Paul Geaney 0-8, David Moran 0-3, Michael Geaney 0-2, Donnchadh Walsh 0-2, Paul Murphy 0-1, Jack Barry 0-1, Kevin McCarthy 0-1, Jack Savage 0-1, Bryan Sheehan 0-1.
Dublin – Dean Rock 0-6, Paul Mannion 1-2, Ciaran Reddin 0-2, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-2, Philly McMahon 0-1, James McCarthy 0-1, Paul Flynn 0-1, Diarmuid Connolly 0-1.
Kerry: Brendan Kealy; Fionn Fitzgerald, Mark Griffin, Ronan Shanahan; Peter Crowley, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy; David Moran, Jack Barry; Jonathan Lyne, Michael Geaney, Donnchadh Walsh; Kevin McCarthy, Paul Geaney, Jack Savage.
Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Philly McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons, Darren Daly; James McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, Eric Lowndes; Brian Fenton, Ciaran Reddin; Paul Flynn, Ciaran Kilkenny, Diarmuid Connolly; Dean Rock, Paddy Andrews, Bernard Brogan.