Jack O'Connor hails Diarmuid O'Connor as Kerry's midfield silence the doubters
Kerry 2-18 Tyrone 0-12
The All-Ireland champions have put their hands up.
This party wouldn't have been held without them.
The Kingdom have spent the year in the long grass, stuttering through the League before failing to set the world alight in the group stages of the All-Ireland championship.
But the grass around them was cut bare today. On this evidence, you'd have to say that they're well able for it.
The talk coming into this one was that Tyrone were primed and that Kerry were on the ropes but as it turned out, the talk couldn't have been further from reality.
Brian Dooher and Fearghal Logan's team did start well with the two Canavans flying out of the blocks but, as a unit, they faded desperately out of the game. Darren McCurry levelled it up at 0-6 0-6 in the 27th minute which, considering the wind Tyrone were playing into, was a great start for them.
But they never rose a gallop again. In fact, it took them 27 minutes before they would score again.
In the mean-time, spearheaded by Diarmuid O'Connor's brilliance in midfield and Gavin White's lightning pace on the wing, Jack O'Connor's team absolutely destroyed Tyrone.
From 0-6 apiece after 27 minutes, the score was 1-14 to 0-6 after 54. Game over. Ball burst. How did that happen?
Well it happened because Kerry were a completely different team this Saturday to the team we'd watched all year. Their defenders were playing with a great hunger and bite which earned them some momentum-shifting interceptions.
Magical from David Clifford. Class from Sean O’Shea.
Kerry football at its breath-taking best 🔥 pic.twitter.com/1Z8BeN8TPw
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) July 1, 2023
Adrian Spillane epitomised this desire early on with a great tackle on Michael O'Neill and that was the example his team-mates followed. Tom O'Sullivan too was winning the battle with Darragh Canavan while Jason Foley and Tadhg Morley were as good as we've seen them all year.
But all around the field, Kerry were dancing to the same tune.
Seanie O'Shea was lively, Paudie Clifford got a lot more change out of Meyler this time than he did two years ago but what will have been most pleasing for them is their midfield. Conn Kilpatrick and Brian Kennedy were said to be the more dominant pairing but they were anonymous against the Na Gaeil club-mates Jack Barry and Diarmuid O'Connor on Saturday.
Diarmuid O'Connor was without doubt the star of the day, carrying the ball brilliantly up the field while, for his second half goal, he showed composure and poise.
Speaking on GAA GO after the game, Kerry manager Jack O'Connor could only smile as he referenced the talk about Kerry's supposedly sub-standard midfield.
"Diarmuid really came into his own today," said O'Connor.
"Yeah, even though the word is out there, all the yerra that we don't have a midfield, but we have great faith in the two lads.
"They've a great balance."
"But I thought we were good all around today, and overall happy enough with the performance. We like it around here (Croke Park) and we'll be happy to come back again."
They will take stopping now.