It was a game that came festooned with warnings, writes Brendan O’Brien.
Yes, this was Dublin v Kerry. Yes, it was an All-Ireland semi-final and yes, there was an inescapable baggage train of history and meaning attached to the whole thing but we were told time and again not to expect a classic.
Too much at stake. The Kingdom can’t go toe to toe and win. All that stuff.
How wrong we all were. True, there were four goals fewer than their seminal semi-final three years ago but there were more scores overall.
This was exceptional. Elemental.
“Its memories of 2013, this was another lung-buster as well,” Dublin’s Cian O’Sullivan told RTE as the adrenalin still seeped from his system. “When the two of us play each other it goes right to the wire. It was a fantastic game to play and to win and I’d say for the spectators as well. We’re glad just to come out the right side of it.
“Trailing by five points, I think it was at half-time, there is a lot of work to do but we kept our composure. We showed some great resilience there in the second-half to crawl back into the lead and finish out the game. Look, there was nothing between the two sides. For us it is just such a massive relief to be in an All-Ireland final.”
Wondrous adjectives trip lightly off the tongue after an afternoon like yesterday’s. Any amount of praise has, and will be, flung at both sides after this but the sheer relentlessness of Dublin after the interval was mesmeric.
Trailing by that quintet of scores on the restart, they picked away at the deficit like a kid at a troublesome zit. Not even another mini-blitz, when Kerry scored five points to one midway through the second period, caused them to lose their stride.
“There was huge character shown out there, some of the guys really stood up,” said O’Sullivan. “Kevin McManamon there in the second half, he made some turnover ball and that’s the sort of stuff we need in a game like that.
“That’s pride, that’s just our attitude and the attitude shown by the guys in the second-half was absolutely fantastic. You couldn’t fault anyone. To get a performance like that was fantastic and hopefully it will stand to us going into the final.”