The furtive shelving of a catalogue of premature Kerry obituaries has been a preoccupation with those who should have known better since Pat McEnaney sounded the final whistle at Croke Park yesterday.
Not since 1999 have the Kingdom failed to implant their authority in the All Ireland semi-finals and whatever about their erratic form against Longford, Sligo and Antrim in the qualifiers, they made it abundantly clear from the outset in this excrutiatingly one-sided quarter-final in front of 81,890 fans that they had absolutely no intention of missing the boat again this year.
Forget that taming by Cork in the Munster semi-final and their tepid progress at the expense of enthusiastic Division Four opponents, the real Kerry are back — and how! Dublin were not beaten yesterday — they were utterly humiliated.
Donegal may have epitomised traces of virtue in suffering Cork’s avalanche and Kildare offered spirit and pluck in yielding to Tyrone but the Dubs brought precisely nothing to the table.
From Colm Cooper’s spectacular goal with just thirty-seven seconds gone until impressive substitute Tadgh Kennelly whipped over the last of their 25 points with three minutes remaining, Kerry were not so much in cruise control as experiencing the joy of a magic carpet ride.
Rarely has a team exerted such dominance at this stage of what is euphemistically referred to as ‘the business end of the season’. Two elements of business were conducted — Kerry transformed the complexion of the All Ireland run-in and Dublin were laid to rest.
By half-time, it was game, set and match to the men in green and gold. Ahead by 1-14 to 0-3, they had reduced Dublin to a shambles, scoring virtually at will and imprisoning their opponents to such an extent that they were rendered totally impotent.
Kerry’s movement, creativity and flair evoked memories of their golden era — Cooper’s exquisite artistry, Declan O’Sullivan’s poise, Darren O’Sullivan’s pace and Paul Galvin’s endeavour shattered any illusion that Dublin might actually glean even a semblance of respectability from the game.
Even before half-time Dublin had used three substitutes including veteran Ciaran Whelan and realigned their defence but were still left floundering with Cooper posting 1-4 and the O’Sullivans combining for 0-5 by half-way to underline Kerry’s rampant power.
And it was much the same story after the interval. Ten Kerry players in all got on the scoresheet with Dublin in contrast restricted to just two points from frees.
Conal Keaney’s 56th minute goal and three points from each of the Brogan brothers Alan and Bernard were not even the merest pin-pricks in Kerry’s Everest-high morale.
Dublin will acknowledge that they were totally out of their depth against a team that has suddenly
acquired an altogether different demeanour as they anticipate a last four battle with Meath or Mayo. No prizes for guessing who will be favourites for that one!
KERRY: D Murphy: M O Se, T Griffin, T O’Sullivan (0-1); T O Se (0-2), M McCarthy, K Young; D O Se, S Scanlon (0-1); P Galvin (0-2), Declan O’Sullivan (0-3), D Walsh (0-1); C Cooper (1-7, 0-4 frees), T Walsh, Darren O’Sullivan (0-3). Substitutes: T Kennelly (0-2) for T Walsh (30 mins), P O’Connor (0-2) for D Walsh (48), S O’Sullivan for Darren O’Sullivan (59 ), A O’Mahony for Young (60), M Quirke for Dara O Se (60). Yellow cards; Young (41 mins), McCarthy (50), Quirke (63).
DUBLIN: S Cluxton: D Henry, D Bastick, P Andrews; P Griffin, B Cullen, B Cahill (0-1); R McConnell, D Magee; P Flynn, D Connolly, B Brogan (0-3, 0-1 free)): A Brogan (0-3), C Keaney (1-0), J Sherlock. Substitutes: C Whelan for Magee (15 mins), P Burke for Sherlock (23), C O’Sullivan for Cullen (28), A Hubbard for Henry (40). Yellow cards: B Brogan (24 mins), McConnell (29), Andrews (34), Cahill (39), Bastick (47), Flynn (51).
Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan)