Kingdom obliterate Kildare to flex All-Ireland muscle
Kerry 7-16 Kildare 0-10
It has been predictable fare for Gaelic football this year with few jolts for audiences to enthuse over and once more today the plot in this latest act was known to all by the interval.
It was a hammering of 27 points matching the biggest ever margin of defeat for an All-Ireland quarter-final since Dublin's walloping of Longford by the same amount.
The only edge of the seat suspense we had were concerns about the health of the reigning Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue as Kerry simply surged into the last four of the championship, hitting 6-14 from play against hapless Kildare.
Kerry's tally was incredible and awesome at times but it must be measured against the meagreness of their opponents' resilience which was almost nil. They did the basics well, made the sublime look even sweeter and harried Kildare from the first minute to the last.
The Leinster men lacked intensity, they were easily penetrated despite their massed defence and serious questions now need to be asked over their development.
That's for another day - for now all the attention will hone in on O'Donoghue's status. Late in the first half he departed the Croke Park sod holding his forearm - below the same shoulder that was operated on last year which looked to have popped out again.
By then he already had three points scored and was through on goal when he was tackled by Kildare 'keeper Mark Donnellan. His fall to the ground, however, left a county gasping and his kinsfolk will remain on edge until news of his condition is clear. Their All-Ireland defence could hinge on that prognosis.
Still, there is surely enough quality in this squad to compensate. Subs like Darran O'Sullivan (who scored almost as much as the entire Kildare team in his cameo) and Barry John Keane made huge impressions and will be keen to get in the starting team as will their captain Kieran Donaghy who didn't feature yesterday, his injury opening the door for Colm Cooper to come back in. And what an impact Cooper had - he was class from start to finish.
But it was almost written in the stars that Kerry would come through. They had their homework done beforehand - they targeted the rampaging Emmet Bolton, put Stephen O'Brien on him and the Kerry man had four points from play poached by the break. And Bolton scarcely got to burst forward twice all day.
Niall Kelly, Padraig O'Neill and Alan Smith were the only Kildare forwards willing to take responsibility and the rest were controlled by a Kerry defence that was simply imperious; they sniffed out danger at every opportunity and gave their opponents no time to settle on the ball. They played a sweeper but counteracted with lethal foot-passing, all the players skipping to the same tempo.
Kildare tried to go short with their kick-outs but there was little room. When they went long the ball was sucked into David Moran's paw like loose change into a schoolyard bully's clutches. Moran is looking every inch the new Darragh O Se; his resurgence in the past two years has been incredible.
From the off O'Donoghue set the momentum with a point in the first minute. Kildare went with one man up front but they shot wayward on a number of occasions and with such a system in operation they needed to be much more economical.
Niall Kelly eventually hit their opening score of the game in the 17th minute with the intensity in their game sorely missing. They hit something of a purple patch but ruined that good work by not scoring again for another 12 minutes. Their three first half scores were all sublime but they missed the more mundane chances and therein lies their problem.
In the time that they failed to score again O'Brien had cleaned up, and O'Donoghue was almost through on goal as Kerry established a half time 0-10-0-3 lead with nine of those points coming from play.
They started the second half with a lightning burst and another point for Alan Smith but that good work was undone when the normally reliable Donnellan failed to command a ball in his square. Donnacha Walsh was on hand to slip the rebound home to put them 1-10 - 0-4 in front.
Cooper palmed home a goal after a Darran O'Sullivan run in the 45th minute to make it 2-10 - 0-6 and within a few minutes Cooper returned the favour for O'Sullivan to extend that to 3-11 to 0-6. and then Barry John Keane hit their fourth goal, Cooper their fifth soon after as Kildare endured yet another hammering on a most disappointing afternoon following their hammering of Cork.
Kerry: C Cooper (2-3), D O'Sullivan (2-1), S O'Brien (1-4), BJ Keane (1-3), D Walsh (0-1), J O'Donoghue (0-3, 1f), P Geaney (0-2),
Kildare: N Kelly (0-2), A Smith (0-2), P O'Neill (0-2), E Doyle (0-1), E O'Flaherty (0-1f), O Lyons (0-1), F Dowling (0-1)
Kerry (SFC v Kildare): B Kealy; M Ó Sé, A O’Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne, K Young, Paul Murphy; A Maher, D Moran; D Walsh, B Sheehan, S O’Brien; P Geaney, C Cooper, J O’Donoghue.
BJ Keane for J O'Donoghue (inj, 30), Darran O'Sullivan for P Geaney (42), Peter Crowley for Marc O Se (50), P Galvin for D Walsh (54), J Buckley for B Sheehan (54), T Walsh for A Maher (60)
Kildare (SFC v Kerry) - Mark Donnellan; Ciaran Fitzpatrick, Mick O'Grady, Ollie Lyons; Kevin Murnaghan, Eoin Doyle, Emmet Bolton; Tommy Moolick, Paul Cribbin; Eoghan O Flaherty, Niall Kelly, Padraig O Neill; Eamonn Callaghan, Alan Smith, Cathal McNally.
P Kelly for E Callaghan (43), F Conway for K Murnaghan (50), for N Kelly, F Dowling for T Moolick (62), G White for E Bolton (67)
Ref: D Coldrick (Meath)