Dublin boss Jim Gavin is certain Kerry will bounce back from their NFL final defeat and pose a massive championship challenge this summer, writes Francis Mooney.
The Dubs swept to victory over their arch-rivals at Croke Park, nine points in it at the end in their 2-17 to 0-14 success.
“They still have more players to come back from injury, and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with during the summer,” said Gavin.
“They have added some defensive aspects to their game, but they still have a big threat up front.”
Gavin felt that while the dismissal of Kerry defender Aidan O’Mahony 13 minutes into the second half was a hammer blow to the Munster men, Dublin were beginning to control the game at that stage.
“There’s no doubt it had an impact. That game was as close to championship pitch as you’ll get, and when you lose a man it leaves you under stress. There are spaces being opened up that can be exploited by the opposition.
“That said, I thought we were beginning to get some control on the game at that particular point, we had created a lot of opportunities up to that stage. Not executing them that well, but we were still creating them and I thought we were beginning to get a foothold. But there’s no doubt it did impact Kerry’s performance.”
Meanwhile, Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice contended that his side still has a lot of work to do in order to close the gap that the All-Ireland champions have opened up.
“There’s still a gap there obviously with Dublin, and it’s a gap that we have to try and close,” he said.
“Our focus will switch now straight away to the 12th of June, and getting ready for the Munster Championship.”
Fitzmaurice conceded that the Dubs, as so often in the past, wore their opponents down before crushing them with a powerful finish.
“We competed well for three quarters of the game, but similar to 2013, Dublin overpowered us near the end. They got goals, the stretched out the gap.
“It doesn’t matter if you lose by a point or you lose by ten or eleven points, you lose and that’s it.”
Despite the heavy Croke Park defeat, the Kingdom boss feels the league has provided his side with many positives, as they turn their attentions to the championship.
“The league in general to us has been very good this year, the last couple of games in particular.
“We wanted to win the game and we put everything in to winning the game, but we weren’t good enough on the day.
“But we’ll get over the disappointment quite quickly, we’ll have to learn from it and learn from the league in general. There has been a lot of positives for us from the league.”