Sean O'Shea with Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny. Evan Treacy/INPHO
boys in blue

Dublin crowned All-Ireland champions as they hold off Kerry in tense finale

Dessie Farrell’s side won out by two points.

Dublin 1-15

Kerry 1-13

DUBLIN HAVE RETURNED to the summit of Gaelic football.

Their pattern of defeating Kerry in All-Ireland finals at four-year intervals was maintained, Paul Mannion and Dean Rock fired the injury-time points that saw them break clear in a tension-filled decider.

This latest outcome was as sweet as they come for Dessie Farrell’s charges. After the semi-final reversals of the past two campaigns, the restoration of a trophy-winning season will leave a sense of deep contentment in the capital.

Their returning heroes all made their mark with Stephen Cluxton’s trademark accuracy from kickouts, Jack McCaffrey’s energy off the bench and the brilliant tally of five points, four from play, by Mannion.

Cluxton joined Dublin captain James McCarthy and defender Michael Fitzsimons, who did a superb job in handling David Clifford, in exalted company as they won their ninth All-Ireland senior medal. Dublin produced the stronger kick when it mattered most, outscoring Kerry 0-7 to 0-2 in the last quarter.

Kerry received an injection of adrenaline before half-time in the form of the game’s opening goal. Paul Geaney had witnessed his shot four minutes in stopped on the line by the retreating Brian Howard, in first-half injury-time the Dingle man made the chance count. He side-stepped Cluxton and the covering defence to finish off his left, yet it was a goal that owed much to vision of Clifford who picked up the ball in the pocket of space hard against the Hill 16 and Cusack Stand corner, before firing in a cross to Geaney.

david-clifford-reacts-to-a-missed-chance David Clifford reacts to a missed chance. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

The Kerry captain struck three points overall, one from a free, but hit some uncharacteristic wides as four shots strayed off target and one floated in short to the arms of Cluxton. His brother Paudie helped picked up the slack in the third quarter as Kerry stamped their authority on the game. Their 1-4 to 0-6 interval advantage swelled to 1-8 to 0-8 before they coughed up possession in the 46th minute, Colm Basquel tipping away an intended handpass from Gavin White as Kerry sought to break from defence.

Basquel raced clear and offloaded to Paddy Small who crashed a shot to the net with the aid of a deflection. Dublin had been unlucky earlier as Con O’Callaghan’s shot cannoned off the crossbar but this time the net was dancing in front of Hill 16.

It was a major blow for Kerry to sustain and yet they hit back by rattling off three points on the bounce to create another gap on the scoreboard.

After a cagey and error-strewn opening period, the action became more engaging in the second half. There was a greater sense of ebb and flow. 

Kerry rebounded from the concession of the goal by Small with scores from O’Shea and Paudie Clifford (2). Dublin were not rocked back. Mannion and Basquel strung together the points to wipe out Kerry’s advantage, then Brian Fenton clipped a 64th minute point that nudged Dublin in front.

It was frenetic stuff from thereon. Substitute Killian Spillane with a sublime shot to equalise, Paddy Small countering immediately to restore Dublin’s lead. A free from O’Shea on the stroke of the 70th minute tied the teams again but that transpired to be Kerry’s last score.

Dublin had the burst of energy with Mannion from play and Rock from a free ensuring that the 2023 football season concludes with Dublin’s ninth triumph in 13 seasons.

Scorers for Dublin: Paul Mannion 0-5 (0-1f), Paddy Small 1-1, Colm Basquel 0-2, Stephen Cluxton 0-2 (0-1 ’45, 0-1f), Brian Fenton 0-2, Brian Howard 0-1, Cormac Costello 0-1 (0-1f), Dean Rock 0-1 (0-1f).

Scorers for Kerry: Seán O’Shea 0-5 (0-4f), Paul Geaney 1-1, David Clifford 0-3 (0-1f), Paudie Clifford 0-3, Killian Spillane 0-1.


1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)

2. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna), 3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala), 4. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf)

9. Brian Howard (Raheny), 6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams), 7. Lee Gannon (Whitehall Colmcille)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny), 5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)

10. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams), 14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala), 18. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)

11. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes), 13. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille), 15. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St-Enda’s)


  • 21. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf) for Gannon (50)
  • 12. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge-Street)  for Costello (54)
  • 20. Seán McMahon (Raheny) for Howard (63)
  • 23. Cian Murphy (Thomas Davis) for Murchan (64)
  • 26. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams) for Paddy Small (69)


1. Shane Ryan (Rathmore)

2. Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses), 3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), 4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Paul Murphy (Rathmore), 6. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), 7. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)

8. Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil), 9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)

10. Dara Moynihan (Spa Killarney), 11. Seán O’Shea (Kenmare) 12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare)

13. Paudie Clifford (Fossa) 14. David Clifford (Fossa), 15. Paul Geaney (Dingle)


  • 18. Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht) for Murphy (56)
  • 17. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe) for Moynihan (58) 
  • 22. Micheál Burns (Dr Crokes) for O’Brien (58)
  • 23. Killian Spillane (Templenoe) for Geaney (64)
  • 19. Mike Breen (Beaufort) for Barry (67)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

Written by Fintan O’Toole and posted on

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