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  • Player Ratings: Kevin McManamon Haunts Kerry Again As Dublin Seal Incredible Win

Player Ratings: Kevin McManamon Haunts Kerry Again As Dublin Seal Incredible Win

Player Ratings: Kevin McManamon Haunts Kerry Again As Dublin Seal Incredible Win
By Gavin Cooney
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Dublin edged into an All-Ireland final off the back of a sensational two-point win over Kerry at Croke Park. Kerry were carried off on their shields, but Dublin secured their status as one of the finest teams to play the game. Here's how they rated:

Stephen Cluxton - 4

What? Gaelic football's most unflappable man looked a startled earwig in ten, hideous minutes in the first-half. A Paul Durcan-esque kick-out gifted Kerry their first goal, which was followed up by a kick-out that sailed directly over the sideline. The second goal was a bewildering error, but one that we had seen before: Cluxton dropped a similar clanger against Down in this year's league.

Most worrying for Cluxton was his failure to recover from these errors: the kick outs following each of the Kerry goals led directly to points for the Kingdom. He was perhaps rattled by Kerry's pushing up on his kick outs, with the Kingdom belatedly turning Dublin's greatest strength into an almost game-defining weakness. The day Clucko was put among the pigeons.

Flabbergasting, but he and Dublin survive.

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Philly McMahon - 6

McMahon took up Donaghy, and it was expected that attack would be his best form of defence. When he appeared totally unmarked to force a superb, goal-denying save from Brian Kelly in the opening ten minutes, it appeared that Donaghy's lack of energy would be a massive issue for Kerry.

This proved not to be the case, however, and we didn't see him as an attacking force until late in the second half, pointing from play in the final eight minutes.

Jonny Cooper - 8

At the beginning of the Championship season, fans from outside Dublin didn't prepare to face them as much as make a case against them. One potential chink in the otherwise adamantine armour was believed to have been at full-back, with Rory O'Carroll leaving the panel to travel. Johnny Cooper was handed the number 3 jersey, and he began the game by roughly disabusing us all of the notion he was a weakness, bringing an astonishing pace and tenacity to dominate his namesake Colm.

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The Gooch came further into the game as it wore on, however, perhaps owing to the fact Cooper was attracted to help quash the chaos Paul Geaney wrought on the Dublin defence.

Altogether a fine performance by Cooper, bar one overly-eager purchase of an outrageous Colm Cooper dummy. Left on 66 minutes for Michael Fitzsimons.

David Byrne - 5

Sensational, goal-saving shoulder on Donnchadh Walsh in the opening five minutes, but struggled massively on Geaney from then on. The loss of O'Carroll wasn't felt at full-back, but it was at corner-back.

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Did well to break forward to set up a Bernard Brogan point early in the second-half, but ultimately taken to the cleaners by Geaney.

James McCarthy - 6

McCarthy's first half swung in time with the game's momentum. Rampant early on, he faded from the game as it wore on. He has had his injury worries this year, and RTE reported he picked up a shoulder injury midway through the first-half.

Cian O'Sullivan - 7

Trademark tenacity from O'Sullivan, displaying the kind of front-foot defending required of an effective sweeper. Kept his head while those around him were losing theirs.

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John Small - 6

Small did reasonably well: marauding forward ion the second half to win a free-kick which Rock inevitably pointed. Was subbed on 50 minutes for Paul Mannion. Evidence of how solid he was can be gleaned by how effective his opposite number Paul Murphy became when he left. A solid and understated role, like Emmanuel Petit had for Arsenal all those years ago, for those fans of literal translations.

Brian Fenton - 7

Kicked the all-important equaliser in the second half. Fascinating midfield tussle with David Moran, one in which he just shaded.

Michael Darragh Macauley - 6

MDMA was one of those who benefitted from Jim Gavin's dummy team, drafted in as a reminder of Kerry's 2011 torment. He played well in midfield, cleaning up breaking ball in the first-half in particular: one surging central run yielded a Bernard Brogan point. Faded as the game wore on.

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Paul Flynn - 4

Did well on Kerry kick-outs in the first-half, but otherwise anonymous as an attacking force. Subbed on 45 minutes for Paddy Andrews.

Kevin McManamon - 9

Like MDMA, was selected for the game despite not having been chosen in midweek by Jim Gavin, the springing from the bench of Kerry's dual torment from the 2011 final. Reminded Kerry of his direct running by brilliantly slotting a point in the twentieth minute.

His direct running is a joy to behold: a kind of blue-shirted Hadron collider. This is not to diminish his game intelligence: he was the main architect of Dublin's third-quarter comeback.

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The final seven minutes were his wheelhouse: a sensational dispossession of O'Beaglaoch on 69, a wondrous point on 70, a critical turnover on 73 with a monstrous hit. What a performance. Seanachais have told stories of ancient ghosts and banshees which have haunted the Kingdom less than McManamon.

Ciaran Kilkenny - 6

Like Flynn, plucked a couple of Kelly's errant kick-outs from the air, but he struggled to make an impact going forward. Critical defensively in injury time.

Dean Rock - 8

Almost unerring from placed balls, rising to the white-hot temperature in the second-half particularly, as Dublin ate into Kerry's lead. Kicked just one wide.

Diarmuid Connolly - 6

Was brilliantly dispossessed by Peter Crowley in the first thirty seconds of the game, a brazen act which seemed to stir Connolly's ambition, as he went on to roast Crowley for the first quarter of the game.

Oddly, Connolly then drifted out of the game as he went on, with McManamon and Rock taking on the responsibility of Dublin's main forwards. Wasted one good chance with two minutes left, before securing victory with a wondrous point on 73.

Bernard Brogan - 5

A poor game from Brogan, finding his attacking force blunted by some superb Kerry defending by Shane Enright.

Substitutes 

Paddy Andrews - 5

He played corner-back in this game in 2009, but failed to contribute hugely to attack in this game.

Paul Mannion - 6 

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Critical in winning the free-kick which levelled the game with three minutes left. Otherwise quiet.

Eoghan O'Gara - 7

Conceded a free-kick while attacking in the final minute for Gaelic football's most nebulous foul in the 68th minute (charging) before opping up to slot a point two minutes from time. The Cameo King.

Michael Fitzsimons - 7

Sensational and critical  dispossession of O'Donoghue on 69 minutes. May well start the final.

Cormac Costello - N/A

Came on, black carded, not rated.

Kerry

Kieran Donaghy - 6

Games against Dublin must be so frustrating for him. Scrapped with Philly, didn't get much love from ref David Gough. Fought like a dog in the trenches but got little in return.

Paul Geaney - 7 

Kerry's footballer of the year.  Class was evident during a first half where he scored 1-4 from play.

Darran O'Sullivan - 7

Only lasted 39 minutes. Goal was vintage Darran - right place, right time - but never recovered after blow suffered immediately after that goal.

Colm Cooper - 6

Got off to a shaky start, with a terrible miss after a great catch. Destroyed Jonny Cooper with a second-half dummy, only to leave his shot short. That kind of afternoon. 10 for passion though.

Donnacha Walsh - 8

Majestic in the first half. Flick to Darran O'Sullivan on Kerry's first goal was nearly X-rated and did so much work up and down the field

Paul Murphy - 8 

A workhorse, who shut down footballer of the year-elect Ciaran Kilkenny. Point in the 61st minute was incredible.

David Moran - 7 

Classy throughout, though his goalie's kickouts did him no favours. Scored Kerry's first score at 14 minutes. Kelly's lineouts often pitted him against two men. Pass from deep in his own end up the sideline may have been the best kick of a football this year.

Anthony Maher - 6

Looked turgid enough during the first twenty minutes. Ended up with an assist on the Geaney goal because his shot died in the air. Doubts about his fitness and mobility continue.

Tadhg Morley - 6

Imperious defense on Bernard Brogan in the middle of the second half kept Dublin at bay.

Aidan O'Mahony - 5

Wasn't named to start but started in the sweeper role, though we're not exactly sure what he did. Bailed out by Kelly on Philly McMahon shot in the first half. Didn't get sent off, which is a plus.

Peter Crowley - 7

Diarmuid Connolly had one of his worst games in a Dublin. Crowley marked him. You do the math.

Killian Young - 7

The vital link between Kerry's midfield and forwards. His highballs were often the most incisive ones.

Shane Enright - 6

Lucky to avoid black card in 65th minute for a poor tackle on Bernard Brogan.

Mark Griffin - 6

Anchored a defense that didn't allow a Kerry goal. Steady throughout.

Brian Kelly - 6 

Kickouts were average at best in first half, and during the darkest moments of the first half, all of those Bryan Sheehan rumours made sense.

Subs:

Stephen O'Brien - 6 (on for Donaghy) -

Quiet off the bench until fisted point leveled things in stoppage time.

James O'Donoghue - 6 

Dropped deep throughout his cameo role. Popped up with an important point.

Barry John Keane --- 7

Beautiful score in second half steadied the ship for Kerry when all seemed lost.

Brian O Beaglaiogh --- 6

Named to start but dropped for O'Mahony. Giveaway in closing stages nearly cost Kerry the game.

Bryan Sheehan - 5

Wild shank in 62nd minute could be classified as a crime in south Kerry. Gave a ball on last attack. Didn't play goals oddly.

Marc Ó Sé - N/A

Didn't long enough to make an impression

 

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