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Dublin are just better than us at the moment

There were mixed emotions leaving Croke Park. Obviously, Kerry people will be feeling disappointed for losing an All-Ireland semi-final that could have been won.

But, when assessing the game, I asked myself a few questions. Did Kerry do everything they could? Yes. Did the management get as much as was possible from the squad? Yes. Did the lads who played yesterday do themselves and the county proud? Undoubtedly.

However, the most important question of the lot is whether or not the best team won? And I would concede that they most definitely did. One would have to say that Dublin are most impressive and the basic fact is they are better than us at this moment in time.

I was worried beforehand that if Kerry weren't far enough ahead going into the second half, how would they cope with the power and athleticism of the Dublin side? As it played out, it was clear Jim Gavin's men possessed that extra zest to get them over the line.

Gavin used his subs very well as Kevin McManamon, Dean Rock, Philly McMahon and Denis Bastick all made telling impacts.

In the second half our half-forward line disappeared and it made it very difficult for the defenders coming out as they looked up and saw a sea of blue jerseys before them. That was largely down to the pace and power of the Dubs half-back line – and it eventually told.

POSSESSION

Despite getting a good handle on Stephen Cluxton's kick-outs, we were beaten in terms of the primary possession stakes. From there, it was nigh on impossible to win because Dublin were always going to create a massive number of scoring chances – their tally of 3-18 proves that.

I was also impressed with the Dubs' reaction when Kieran Donaghy came on. They clearly had a plan to stop him and they executed it perfectly.

But there will always be some element of regret as Michael Darragh Macauley won a ball that should have been Kerry's and that led to McManamon's goal, which was the decisive blow.

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All of Kerry's players needed to bring their 'A' game, but unfortunately, there were a few who didn't reach the high standards we've seen in the past. But it's hard for me to be critical of these men, who have brought so much glory to the county.

Of course, now is not the time for rash decisions, but, inevitably, the futures of the likes of Tomas and Marc O Se, Kieran Donaghy, Declan O'Sullivan and Paul Galvin will come under scrutiny.

They owe absolutely nothing. To be playing at the highest level for so long and to be able to still produce a performance like yesterday is a testament to the type of rare breed with which we are now dealing.

Tomas is the oldest player on the team, but he was arguably Kerry's best player, along with Donnchadh Walsh and James O'Donoghue. Colm 'Gooch' Cooper, meanwhile, once again lit up proceedings on the biggest stage. They are capable of giving it one more lash, but whatever decision they make will be respected.

This was a game I was privileged to witness and it will go down as one of the greatest in the modern era. Who says football is dying? I think it is growing more and more intriguing by the year.

Managers are now looking at what they have at their disposal and trying to come up with a formation of play that gets the very most out of their squads. Dublin have the ingredients to play the brilliant attacking style that brings the 'wow' factor. Kerry try to create a platform to let the forwards express themselves.

Mayo could not be accused of being negative, but they don't play with the same attacking verve and a lot of their scores come from their relentless work rate which forces turnovers in the opposition half. It's not, perhaps, to the liking of traditionalists, but it is still most impressive to watch them go about their business.

The final will be fascinating. Having seen the Dubs up close once again, I just have to think they will win it. It will take an incredible effort from Mayo to stop them. They have already put in some mammoth performances, but they will need to go up another level again.

Dublin have so many options it's frightening and, like yesterday, the bench could be the decisive factor.

For now, though, it's time for us to catch our breaths and revel in the show that was seen in Croke Park yesterday. Colm O'Rourke described it as one of the most incredible occasions he has ever witnessed and it is very hard to argue with him.


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