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Published: 17:39 | 28/8/16

Dublin edge Kerry in Croker thriller

Dublin are through to another All-Ireland SFC final after they came from behind to beat Kerry by 0-22 to 2-14 in a gripping semi-final at Croke Park.

A point apiece from Diarmuid Connolly and Eoghan O'Gara in time added on proved the difference in a clash for the ages which could have gone either way.

The exciting contest which the game became did not look like materialising in the opening stages as the defending champions dominated and raced into a five-point lead.

It took 14 minutes for the Kingdom to get on the scoreboard as they struggled to get any kind of rhythm going in their play.

However, a whirlwind 10 minutes before the break turned the game on its head as the underdogs hit 2-04 without reply, Dublin temporarily going into meltdown after a wayward Steven Cluxton kick-out led to Darran O'Sullivan goaling; the impressive Paul Geaney grabbed a second just before the half-time whistle was blown.

Dublin to their credit came out strongly after the restart and gradually reeled Kerry in, six of the first seven scores in the second period going to Jim Gavin's side, with Dean Rock ruthlessly clinical all afternoon from hand as well as from the deadball, finishing with 0-12.

Kerry fought back and an outstanding point from substitute Barry John Keane helped them establish a two-point advantage but Dublin dug in and Kevin McManamon finally edged them in front on 70 minutes.

Stephen O'Brien quickly levelled for Kerry though and with five minutes of stoppage time to be played, victory was there for whichever side could manufacture the next score.

It was Dublin who got it through the boot of Eoghan O'Gara and when Connolly, who had been uncharacteristically quiet in the second half and had missed a couple of kickable points, sent over a lovely point with his left boot from a tight angle, the writing was finally on the wall for Kerry.

They pushed forward in the hope of getting the third goal which would see them win by a point but the Dublin defenders, who produced some ferocious challenges in the game, held firm and it is Dublin who will play Mayo in the All-Ireland decider next month.

The defeat will hurt Kerry's players and management as, aside from the opening period of the match, they played some sharp, incisive football.

In particular Kerry were composed with the chances they created, having only five wides in the contest, with Dublin having more than double that total.

Some of their players such as Aidan O'Mahony, Kieran Donaghy and Marc O'Se will be especially devastated as they must wonder how much more their bodies can take after years of brilliant service for their county.

For Dublin, they have the opportunity to become the first side to retain the All-Ireland crown since Kerry in 2006-07 and the first Dublin side to do so since 1976-77.

Mayo stand in their day but while the Dublin players' bodies will ache for a few days after this bruising contest, this battle-hardened victory and the manner in which they achieved it will make Dublin strong favourites for a fourth Sam Maguire in six years.

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