Kerry fire out warning to rivals as sorry Kildare are ripped to shreds
Kerry 7-16 Kildare 0-10
The scoreboard controller at last week's Ashes Test between England and Australia would surely have found his talents usefully deployed at Croke Park yesterday given that stunningly imposing statistics tend to be part of his brief from time to time.
Rarely indeed have the numbers flashed with such intensity as they did as Kerry annihilated Kildare by 7-16 to 0-10 - indeed, had the match itself contained a fraction of that rapid-fire mechanism, then we might have been spared what amounted to an utter humiliation.
Yesterday's mis-match detracted considerably from the passion, fervour and indeed controversy that traditionally garnish the cutting edge stage of the Championship and instead triggered the conviction that every Kerry training session between now and the end of their current journey, whenever that may be, will be on a different planet in terms of effort, urgency and ambition than yesterday's tranquil Headquarters amble.
Kerry boss Eamon Fitzmaurice was his usual taciturn self at the finish.
"We were really looking forward to coming to Croke Park and we felt there was a big performance in us," explained Fitzmaurice.
"We're always saying that we go on training form in terms of team selection and thankfully the lads delivered on that policy on this occasion."
No outward display of emotion -not even the flicker of a smile - yet Fitzmaurice has selection options for the All-Ireland semi-final which are simply breathtaking.
Within seven minutes of being sprung from the bench in the 41st minute, Darren O'Sullivan bagged 2-1, Barry John Keane landed 1-3 following his introduction, Tommy Walsh gave a brief but impeccable display of high fielding and Paul Galvin infused an element of craft and subtlety into the proceedings.
And, incredibly, that was only the Kingdom substitutes' contribution!
By half-time, Kerry had slid into a 0-10 to 0-3 lead with new kid on the block Stephen O'Brien pocketing four before Donnacha Walsh stabbed in their first goal in the 39th minute to open the floodgates.
By the 51st minute, Kerry led by 5-11 to 0-6, Keane, Cooper (2) and O'Sullivan having rippled the Kildare net.
Padraig O'Neill, Eoin Doyle and Andrew Smith did their best to return fire for Kildare but it was water-pistols against canon guns.
Smith and O'Sullivan transported the Kerry faithful into seventh heaven with two more goals, the scoreboard firmly encapsulating what was a surreal occasion.
KERRY: B Kealy; M Ó Sé, A O'Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne, K Young, P Murphy; A Maher, D Moran; S O'Brien 1-4, B Sheehan, D Walsh 1-0; P Geaney 0-2, C Cooper 2-3 (1f), J O'Donoghue 0-3 (1f). Subs: BJ Keane 1-3 for O'Donoghue (31), D O'Sullivan 2-1 for Geaney (42), P Crowley M Ó Sé (50), P Galvin for D Walsh (54), J Buckley for Sheehan (54), T Walsh for A Maher (60).
KILDARE: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, M O'Grady, O Lyons; K Murnaghan, E Doyle, E Bolton; T Moolick, P Cribbin; E O'Flaherty, N Kelly, P O'Neill; E Callaghan, A Smith, C McNally. Subs: P Kelly for Callaghan (43), F Conway for Murnaghan (51), P Fogarty for N Kelly (54), M Sherry for McNally (57), F Dowling for Moolick (62), G White for Bolton (67).