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Defeat To Dublin Evoked A Depressing Thought Kerry Fans Had Not Experienced Before

Defeat To Dublin Evoked A Depressing Thought Kerry Fans Had Not Experienced Before
By PJ Browne
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Emotionally, three years ago was a very different game for Kerry fans compared to Sunday.

Post the 2013 All-Ireland, the feeling was 'AH BOLLOCKS'. Those capitals are completely necessary. Kerry had come close, frustratingly close.

Though history may record a seven point defeat for Kerry, it does not correctly reflect the reality of the game. Really, it came down to Michael Darragh MacAuley's fingertips flicking the ball to Kevin McManamon before a green and gold jersey could get to the ball. In his match report for the Irish Times, Malachy Clerkin suggested that damages would be substantial if Kerry could 'sue a scoreline for libel'.

Though Kerry went into that game as underdogs with the oddsmakers, there was a feeling that the Kingdom were just as good as the Dubs. Equals.

In the intervening three years - which included an All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin - a slight inferiority complex has started to slip into the consciousness of Kerry fans. After all, it is now seven years since Kerry beat Dublin in the Championship.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice's team went toe to toe with Dublin on Sunday. Down the stretch, as they traded blows, Kerry could not land one after Stephen O'Brien's equalising point in the 71st minute.

The will was there from Kerry. The Dublin response was just stronger. It was unrelenting.


When Kevin McManamon nailed Peter Crowley as the Kerry centre-forward burst forward in search of the leveling point, resignation hit as hard as the Dubliner half-forward's challenge.

Such was the Crowley's desire to get back in the game, he dragged two of the Kerry medical team down the pitch, despite their protestations that he exit the game. Again, there was no deficit of devotion.

The dagger to all Kerry hopes was fired over by Diarmuid Connolly a minute later.


Even before Connolly's point, which put Dublin two ahead, a depressing thought began to enter the minds of Kerry fans.


'At least we gave them a game.'

It felt wrong to even think that. Like an insect that had slipped down your shirt, you wanted to remove it from your consciousness and stamp it on the ground.


That's how good this Dublin team are though.

Given Kerry's history and tradition, fans would have believed it inconceivable that they might one day reflect on a game and take solace in it being competitive. Even Tomás Ó Sé told us on Monday that 'There's no shame in losing to this Dublin team'.

Kerry wringed everything they could of the game. Dublin were just slightly better. A lack of competitive games this season had many wondering what would happen when Dublin faced adversity.


Kerry, like Vincent Browne interrogating a politician, asked all the tough questions. Dublin answered like a member of Oireachtas prepared on a level Browne had never seen before.

Their response to Kerry's whirlwind final 10 minutes of the first half negated any doubts. 15 minutes into the second half, they had cancelled Kerry's advantage. Kerry hit back again, leading by three with less than 10 minutes of normal time remaining. The Dubs' rebuttal was decisive and irresistible.

Kerry will be back again. They've won the last two All-Ireland minor titles and again look like having a team capable of winning this year's final. Players will progress.


Jack O'Connor managed two of those minor winning teams. This year, he took over the U21s. It feels like he's a man bringing his team along with the ultimate goal of managing them at senior level.

The senior panel is also far from the rebuilding case Pat Spillane suggested it is after the game. Of the players who took to the field on Sunday, those likely to retire include Aidan O'Mahony, Marc Ó Sé and Kieran Donaghy. Colm Cooper looks like he has enough remaining in the tank to hit the road again next year.

Blows their retirements will be, but not fatal.


As Dublin fans celebrated with an enthusiasm embellished by a scare the likes of which they had not felt in a while, it was hard to escape that sense of unease; the unfamiliarity of taking comfort in a close defeat.

Relatively, it will be an ephemeral feeling. Kerry will return to the top again.

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