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Dublin: 17 °C Monday 17 June, 2019

Johnny Doyle: Awesome Kerry, red-hot Dublin and Michael Murphy's class

The42′s Gaelic football columnist takes a look back over the weekend action.

Stephen O'Brien scored one of Kerry's seven goals on Sunday.
Stephen O'Brien scored one of Kerry's seven goals on Sunday.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THE AUGUST BANK Holiday weekend you feel should be one of the marquee weekends in the championship summer. Unfortunately the last two days of football didn’t live up to the bill.

The four games at Croke Park were one-sided and at no stage did you feel any of them were going to be tight, keenly fought contests.

They all went according to the script and that takes from the excitement. It wasn’t what the GAA is all about.

The format and structure of the championship has never been so vehemently debated but perhaps having all four quarter-finals over the one weekend at HQ would serve as a better option.

I know time is tight with draws and replays but when the games are as predictable as we’ve seen, it can make for very dull viewing.

That’s not to take anything away from the teams that prevailed. Kerry and then Dublin provided yet more evidence that they’re just beginning to tick as we reach the business end of the summer and Tyrone and Donegal did the job they set out to do.

Although, it’s hard to know how much you can read into the results and performances from the weekend.

In Sunday’s first quarter-final, Kerry were awesome all over the field and there’s no doubt they deserve their place in the last four but Kildare were naive.

Tyrone players make there way out onto there pitch The action didn't live up to expectations on both Saturday and Sunday for the crowds at HQ. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Last week’s win over Cork was probably more of a reflection of where the Rebels are at rather than Kildare. We saw that today.

It was hugely disappointing. Jason Ryan’s men were bullied from start to finish and while they played some good football early on, they just didn’t take the chances when they presented themselves.

If you’re going to beat a team of Kerry’s calibre and quality, you have to take 70-80% of your chances and Kildare just didn’t do it. So often they ran into cul-de-sacs.

The Lilywhites won last week’s game in Thurles in midfield. They dominated Cork to take complete control of the contest but this time around, they weren’t given a prayer.

From a Kildare point of view, to get into an All-Ireland quarter-final and go out and be beaten by 27 points is embarrassing. I don’t think there’s any point in saying anything else.

I’ve been involved in Kildare teams that have been on the end of bad beatings and you just want the ground to swallow you up and I feel for the lads. The one constant in the aftermath is that you’re embarrassed.

You put so much effort in and that’s the best you can come up with. After the highs of last week, today was a major disappointment and a setback for Kildare.

But it’s the psychological scars that can be most damaging. A good result against Cork was an improvement, no doubt, but when you go up to the next level and are beaten off the park, it’s tough to get over.

Mentally as much as anything, it’s shattering. There’s a lot of work to be done and there is encouragement in the underage performances but it’s an embarrassing day for Kildare, no doubt about it.

Padraig O'Neill dejected From the highs of Thurles to the crushing low of defeat at Croke Park for Kildare. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Yet that’s not to take anything away from Kerry. I said it before: they were awesome.

We saw Darran O’Sullivan and Tommy Walsh coming off the bench to make contributions and it gives Eamonn Fitzmaurice a great problem to have going forward.

Colm Cooper showed us all why he’s one of the greats. He plays such a simple game and that what makes him so special. Nothing is rushed and he always seems to be a step ahead of everyone else.

It will take a very good team to beat them and they’ll take some stopping.

Similarly, Dublin are in red hot form. It’s difficult to look beyond the top two and I feel it will be a Dublin-Kerry final but we keep saying they haven’t been tested.

If either are beaten in the semi-finals, many will say that’s the reason.

Paul Flynn celebrates scoring his side's second goal with Bernard Brogan Full steam ahead for the Dubs as they go in pursuit of Sam. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

To be fair to Fermanagh, they gave as good as they got this afternoon. You never felt they were going to win, and that’s not being disrespectul, but they made a good account of themselves.

When you consider the defeats Dublin have inflicted on other counties in their run to the semi-finals, it wasn’t a bad outcome for Fermanagh and you saw that in their reaction afterwards.

There’s been calls for a two-tier system but you just need to look at Fermanagh’s run to see the benefit in the current one. If we were to change the championship format, counties like Fermanagh would be deprived of days like today and the impact it can make on football in the county.

If you were a betting man, you probably would have put money on the six teams to be where they are now. That will probably continue as the weeks progress.

Mayo and Donegal is a tough one to call and could go either way and I feel the six teams that are left have a realistic chance of playing a major part in the outcome of this year’s championship.

As the saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent and Michael Murphy showed that on Saturday. No matter where you are in your career, you’ll always have a dip in form but you just have to work hard and come out the other side.

Michael Murphy with Finian Hanley He may not have been fully fit but Michael Murphy was the star of the show. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Every time he goes out, Murphy has three of four men on him and when his high standards dip, people get on his back.

He got far more space against Galway and that allowed him to show us what a good footballer he is. Whether he can inspire Donegal against Mayo is another thing.

At the moment, you can’t really look past Dublin or Kerry but hopefully next weekend will provide us with more entertainment.

Ideally you want it to be open and high-scoring but the close battles, maybe 13-14 points apiece, can be equally absorbing.

We didn’t see that at Croke Park over the last two days.

2012 Cork senior hurling finalists set for relegation battle after loss today

Fermanagh scored one of the most bizarre goals you’ll see against Dublin

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About the author:

Johnny Doyle

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