INPHO/Morgan Treacy Kerry's Declan O'Sullivan with Dara McVeety and Killian Clarke of Cavan.
5 Talking Points - Kerry v Cavan, All-Ireland SFC quarter-final
The Kingdom had six points to spare over the Breffni County yesterday.

1. Sluggish by Kerry or case of job done?

They’re still unbeaten in championship fare this year and passed their first assignment yesterday away from the home environs of Fitzgerald Stadium.

But while Kerry achieved victory in Croke Park yesterday, they didn’t exactly catch fire in doing so. Kerry’s second-half play was particularly sloppy and the pattern of second-half fadeouts is disconcerting for Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

The counter argument is that they essentially had this game won at half-time after powering into a 0-11 to 0-2 lead. Was it a case of job done and they could afford to relax in the second-half? Or was that second-half slump worrying with Dublin looming on September 1st?

2. Dunne and Keating contained by Kerry rearguard

For Cavan to have a chance of springing a major surprise yesterday, they needed their main men up front to cut loose. Central to Cavan’s series of victories in Ulster and the qualifiers this year has been the emergence of Martin Dunne and Eugene Keating into potent forwards.

Dunne wriggled clear to float over the first point of the game yet his threat was blotted out after that. Alongside him Keating grabbed two points but both were from frees and arrived in the second-half of the match.

The supply to the inside Breffni men was poor at stages but by stifling the impact of Dunne and Keating, the Kerry defence had ensured their team had gone a long way to securing the honours.

Cavan’s Eugene Keating and Marc O’Se of Kerry
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

3. Cavan’s nervous opening to the game

Arriving in Croke Park at the last eight stage was a momentous occasion for Cavan, a county that has been starved of marquee football days in recent years. They were backed by a huge travelling support and they were in full voice when Dunne struck the opening point of the match.

But from thereon, Cavan struggled to settle into the game in the first-half. Certainly they were meeting a team of great quality which was going to make it difficult to gain grip on the game yet Cavan did not aid their cause with the basic mistakes they committed in the opening period.

Passes went astray frequently and they spilled the ball under pressure as they tried to attack. It was unusual as Cavan have been cool and composed this season. But yesterday they looked in the first-half like a team overawed by the occasion and played in a nervous fashion. Their second-half improvement arrived too late.

4. Kerry’s attacking dilemma

Kerry’s first-half play against Cork in the Munster final was scintillating and their attacking movement was a joy to watch. But they were not able to hit those heights again yesterday, admittedly against a Cavan team whose defence was well-structured and harder to pierce holes in.

Colm Cooper’s frees and Donnchadh Walsh, not lauded as Kerry’s most free-scoring forward, from play were the chief sources of scores for the Kingdom. Apart from that they struggled to get going with Rory Dunne marshalling Kieran Donaghy superbly while the electric play of James O’Donoghue was missed.

Kerry didn’t raise a green flag or call Alan O’Mara into shot-stopping mode and it was in marked contrast to the plethora of scoring chances their next opponents Dublin created in their quarter-final tie on Saturday night.

Cavan’s Rory Dunne and Kieran Donaghy of Kerry
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

5. The future questions for the Kingdom and the Breffni

Kerry are still standing but do they have the capacity to raise  their game against Dublin? How will they cope in suppressing the marauding attacking runs from deep of Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy and Michael Darragh MacAuley? And can they piece together the consistent display over the 7o minutes that they will be required?

For Cavan, the key issue is are they able to build on the progress of 2013? Their young team got a lot of exposure to elite football this year, yet can they be consistent challengers? And in that regard, will they focus on getting out of Division 3 next spring?

‘Dublin could wipe the floor with us’ says Kerry boss Fitzmaurice

‘Elementary mistakes cost us’ laments Cavan’s Terry Hyland

Murph’s Sideline Cut: Cavanagh’s tackle a result of the game we’ve created