AN EXCELLENT START and brilliant finishing ensured Dublin closed out this All Ireland minor football championship semi-final at Croke Park.
The final scoreline of 3-12 to 1-10 does not to justice to how tightly-contested a game this proved to be.
After the first 30 minutes, though, it looked like being anything but as the hosts carried a comfortable 2-6 to 0-4 into the break thanks to goals from Conor McHugh and Cormac Costello.
Costello, Niall Scully and Shane Carthy had each pointed in the opening three minutes before McHugh added a goal and a point in quick succession.
Kerry hit back with three points on the spin, but the fight-back looked to be in vein when their defence parted for Costello to smash in goal number two to give the ever-increasing number of patrons on Hill 16 plenty to cheer about.
Kerry’s David Foran took aim at goal just before the midway whistle, but his shot rose too high to trouble Lorcan Molloy and the Kingdon went under the Hogan stand trailing by eight points.
The turnaround brought an all new green and gold to the field. Sheehy added to his tally with another free, before centre back Ronan Murphy showed the pedigree for which is county is renowned; pointing with a languid stroke off the outside of his boot.
If that didn’t wake Dublin up to the fact there was a game on, then Cillian Fitzgerald’s 40th minute goal did. The visitors broke in numbers from midfield and created an overlap for Fitzgerald to capitalise with a clinical strike to the bottom corner. Conor Keane’s point five minutes later made the score 2-8 to 1-8. Kerry making a mockery of their half-time deficit.
They would then trade scores with Dublin as the game threatened to go down to the wire. The ‘Dub cubs’ were on the brink of defeat, but they managed to clear off the goal-line and go straight up the other end to restore the three-point lead through Shane Cunningham.
It had all unravelled again for Kerry, McHugh tapped over another score to put the result beyond doubt and Stephen Cunnigham broke down the middle before unselfishly handing David Campbell a chance at the empty net.
The perfect way for an expectant Croke Park crowd to warm-up for the senior All Ireland final.