"It could have gone either way" - Ciaran Kilkenny says fine margins were key to victory over Kerry

Kilkenny played a starring role in helping Dublin to yet another All-Ireland final

BY Cian Roche 19:50 Sunday 28 August 2016, 19:50 28 Aug 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Dublin footballer Ciaran Kilkenny admits that his team could have been on the wrong side of the result against Kerry this afternoon and says that fine margins decided the game.

Jim Gavin's men ran out winners in the end at Croke Park, but only just, and Kilkenny appreciates that the game could have come down to one or two possessions of the ball.

"It was really really end to end football, the last 15/20 minutes really told on the lads," he told Newstalk Sport's Oisin Langan. "Guys from both sides were cramping up. It was a serious pace and fair play to the six lads who came on.

"They were unbelievable, they really upped the tempo. The pace of the game was phenomenal. We're happy with the first half performance, we were fairly in control at 0-09 to 0-05. Kerry got two goals against the run of play so we came in at half-time and said we'd stick with the process.

"We came out in the second half and kept the scoreboard ticking over. We swung the momentum, managed to get the last few scores and we're just delighted to be in the final."

The game changed after the break, with Kerry's advantage being chipped away at consistently and Kilkenny says that was just down to maintaining a measured approach to the game.

Ciaran Kilkenny (12) and James McCarthy embrace after today's game. Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan 

"Keeping calm and composed, we stayed patient waiting for the right opportunity. These days a game can go for 75 or 80 minutes. We'll have plenty of opportunities to get scores. We came in and knew we'd played a decent half of football. We knew there'd be more in us again. We had the lads to come on full of legs to finish the job as well. 

"Thankfully we won it in the end because it could have gone either way. A few breaks of the ball here and there, we were lucky to get them and get the scores."

In a physical encounter at GAA Headquarters, the Castleknock clubman emphasized the work that his team had put in, particularly in the second half.

"We worked really hard and once again it's down to the lads that came on and their determination and their energy to track back in the last few minutes to make the tackle and eh break. The lads showed great hunger to do that.

"It's great preparation. If you had said we'd played Donegal in quarter-final and Kerry in the semi-final and won both games, you couldn't really ask for better preparation."

Dublin will now face Mayo in a repeat of last year's All-Ireland semi-final, where they managed to squeeze by the Connacht side in a replay.

"Mayo are absolutely flying at the moment and we've played them a good few times over the last few years. Last year's game could have gone either way, the first game especially. The momentum was with them in the last few minutes. They could have won the game that day.

"The second day we were lucky to get a goal or two to pull away toward the end. I'm expecting another really, really competitive game of football." 

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