Kerry and Dubs light up Croker – what do you think of that, Dion Dublin?

To paraphrase Eamon Dunphy, that was a good GAA weekend, not a great one. Between them, the four All-Ireland football quarter-finals produced just one half of truly memorable and thrilling combat; the opening 35 minutes between old rivals Dublin and Mayo. The second half, while notable for Dublin’s magnificence, was deeply disappointing for Mayo, and for neutrals too.

Kerry quashed Tyrone with unexpected ease, while the Derry/Cork and Armagh/Monaghan games were about as exciting as Afternoon Tea with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Roy Keane and fellow ex-Premier League star turned pundit Dion Dublin were both in Croke Park on Sunday (though not together). Keane was there to support Cork, Dublin was working with the BBC (go figure). Keane goes to Cork games (football and hurling) regularly enough, but this must have been one of the most boring he’s seen. What Dublin made of it all I’m not sure, but he seemed typically upbeat on Twitter about his Croke Park experience. As a professional sportsman, I expect he was as impressed as the rest of us with Dublin’s pace, power and skill in that ruthless third-quarter dismantling of Mayo.

The weekend began with a dilemma for yours truly: Do I stay or do I GAAGO? I relented for Kerry v Tyrone, shortly before throw-in. From early on, it was evident how pumped up Kerry were. They would not be succumbing to the ‘Red Hand’ this time. Kerry knew that to avoid another Tyrone trauma, they had to bring a ferocity to their defensive play, and they did, executing a huge number of turnovers. Tyrone were swamped on the day.

In attack, and even though David Clifford wasn’t at his best, Kerry kept the scoreboard operator on their toes. Diarmuid O’Connor was majestic. Then Clifford produced that wonderfully inventive pass from the sideline, an escape from apparent imminent captivity that Houdini would have been proud of.

Armagh v Monaghan, by all accounts, was a poor quality, negative game. 0-12 apiece at full-time, the teams only produced a further four points between them in extra-time, before Monaghan edged a marathon penalty shootout. What an unfair way to settle an All-Ireland quarter-final! Whatever happened to replays?

If Kerry impressed massively on Saturday – and they did – so too did the Dubs the following day. Mayo were excellent in a sparkling first half, their All-Ireland hopes very much alive. It was open football, with lots of kick-passing, and much of the swagger, intensity and excitement we associate with Mayo-Dublin games of the last decade or so. Unfortunately for the westerners, they were blitzed by a typically devastating third-quarter onslaught from the Dubs. Forced to chase goals rather than points, Mayo’s challenge wilted, Dublin now sticking their chests out, their hunger pretty extraordinary given all their success in recent times. It made for sobering viewing for the rest. As for the Dublin bench, it must rattle the spirits of even the most mentally well prepared opposition.

Derry were efficient against Cork, the Ulster team’s massed defence superbly well organised. It was a very dull watch, but that won’t worry Derry. Still, it’s hard to see them keeping Kerry at bay in the semi-final.

A final word on Monaghan: what a magnificent player (and leader) Conor McManus is. It’s great to see him and his colleagues reach the last four; it’s almost impossible to see them venture any further, given the all-powerful blue army now standing in their way.

So that was the weekend that was. What do you think of that, Dion Dublin?