In a few weeks, New Zealand’s All Blacks will begin their campaign to win their third World Cup in a row. That would be, by any yardstick, an exceptional achievement.
To achieve that they will have to have considerable talent at their disposal, prepared thoroughly, retained an unforgiving focus and maintained a relentless programme to constantly raise standards — just as Dublin’s footballers have.
The All Blacks have to wait almost two months for their date with destiny but Dublin’s footballers’ day of reckoning comes tomorrow when Kerry stand between them and a historic five in a row.
Even if Gaelic football has become the battle of all the Davids and just one Goliath it would be churlish to pretend that this achievement is purely because Dublin have resources beyond most other counties wildest dreams. Those resources have to be marshalled and put to the very best use.
It might be hard to find a neutral who might bet against Dublin, population 1.35m, but it would be as hard to find anyone to write off Kerry, population 147,000.
These racing certainties, as Kerry and Seamus Darby know all too well, can often take on life, and a script of their own.
The All Blacks and Dublin have achieved a level of excellence that must be admired — even if Kerry will have far more supporters than they ever imagined they could have tomorrow.
Admiration, after all, does not pre-empt begrudgery.