People often say replays take on a life of their own and this game certainly followed that script.
It was tactical and when the game slowed up, both teams got 14 or 15 men behind the ball and defended in numbers, but on the other hand it was very open. If your attacks were quick enough, you could score pretty quickly.
That was one of a few things that struck me about the day.
Dublin’s worked and Kerry’s backfired.
Eoin Murchan was effectively the difference between the teams and at one stage I thought the stat Mike Quirke had talked about during the week, the one about the man-of-the-match in replays often being someone who didn’t feature in the drawn game, was going to continue.
Diarmaid O’Connor starting for Kerry came out of nowhere. We hadn’t seen a lot of him, he wasn’t used in the first game, and even though it seemed like a weird change I didn’t question it because starting Jack Barry and Adrian Spillane had worked so well for Peter Keane last time out.
The drawn game was man on man but this time Dublin gave the fullback lineprotection, alternating the sweeper between Cooper, Small and Murchan.
A midfield battle that wasn’t a midfield battle
Saturday in this sector was in stark contrast to the high fielding spectacle we had on September 1. To my surprise, Dublin didn’t take the opportunity to push up on Kerry’s kickouts.
I thought they would put serious pressure on Shane Ryan given how he played at the end of the drawn game. Kerry probably felt Stephen Cluxton would get 80-90 per cent of his kickouts away no matter what they did but they weren’t aggressive enough.
Both teams still had 100 percent possession from their own kickouts midway through the second half and that was the most surprising aspect of the game for me.
In the period after Dublin’s goal Kerry’s forwards got them back into the game but four attacks in a row were wasted and they kicked five wides in the second half while Stephen O’Brien should have passed to Paul Geaney for an easy goal.
During that time Dublin had three or four turnovers but were still much more clinical.
Dublin’s big three of Mannion, O’Callaghan and Kilkenny scored 0-12 from play and Kerry got 0-14 from Clifford, Geaney and O’Shea, (10 from play).
Their accuracy, for the most part, was a joy to behold. Mannion, Clifford and Geaney had a few that went astray and Geaney had a goal chance early on, but that’s only nit-picking because those were six players who made the day for me.
Sean O’Shea was doing things a 20, 21-year-old shouldn’t be able to do and someone clearly took Kilkenny to one side in the last two weeks because he was more direct than he usually is.
Someone must have said to him, ‘you are better than that, you are worth more than possessions, you can be a matchwinner’.
And he certainly was that.
Jim Gavin and Peter Keane are two managers who have gone about their business all year in a really constructive, professional way.
There is huge integrity in everything they do but they each made a substitution that smacked of desperation. Diarmuid Connolly is nowhere near where he needs to be, given the standards which Dublin have set.
At half time Dublin were rattled and Jack McCaffrey going off didn’t help their cause, but it wasn’t a good call to bring Connolly on.
Similarly, James O’Donoghue wasn’t part of the panel the previous day and it smacked of desperation to introduce him in the second half.
From missing the number of steps for Murchan’s goal and Scully’s point, to the Michael Fitzsimons black-card farce, to the missed block by James McCarthy on Sean O’Shea in the build-up to Mannion’s point, I never felt Conor Lane was on top of the game.
Showing a black card to Fitzsimons was a poor call. He consulted both umpires so that was three people coming to the wrong decision – thankfully it was corrected and we got to the right decision in the end.
Con O’Callaghan should have had a penalty in the first half but his honesty probably cost him.
To his credit, he tried to stay on his feet whereas if he had gone down theatrically, he could have bought himself a penalty.
There is no debate about how great a team Dublin are and when you consider the pressure they were under on Saturday, their performance was incredible.
"Maybe they got out of jail in the drawn game but we will be having this conversation again next year.
"People can talk about funding and financial backing, but anyone who doesn’t like to see Dublin winning All-Irelands should take a sabbatical on a desert island because I think we will be talking about six, seven and possibly even eight-in-a-row.”