Kerry moved through the gears on Saturday evening, as they saw off Tipperary to set up a Munster final showdown with Cork.
As the Kingdom bid for a first All-Ireland title since 2014, they continue to show their might in the southern province.
“I’m very, very impressed,” Sky Sports pundit Jim McGuinness said at full-time on Saturday.
“They look like a team with the bit between their teeth, and that’s exactly what we saw tonight from the very start of the game.
“The full-backs, the half-backs, the middle of the park, both of them dominating both kick-outs. The forward play is brilliant, Killian Spillane off the bench, three points.
“They look very, very close to being ready to win an All-Ireland, and I would imagine there’s people in the capital getting a wee bit nervous looking at that.
“They’re definitely the real deal. You still have to go and win it, and you still have to step over the line and cross those hurdles. But certainly in terms of their preparation and where they need to be, moving towards a Munster final, they’re one of the top, top teams in the country.”
If they are to return to an All-Ireland final, they will need to overcome the Rebels at Fitzgerald Stadium before beating the Ulster champions in the penultimate stage.
“Job done. That’s it. Over. Review. And then away they go again,” McGuinness said of their victory over Tipp.
“They’re in a good place, there’s no doubt about that. Tactically, they were very good. They asked a serious amount of questions all the time, for every single minute of that game they were asking questions.
“They’re in really, really top nick physically. Psychologically they’re hurt, which is the biggest driver of all. They’re absolutely hurting from last season. Put all that into the mix, and it’s a very powerful cocktail. It’s going to take a serious team to beat them.
“That said, there’s serious teams coming down the line, if they get out of Munster. They have got a Munster final [against Cork], they play the winners from Ulster in a semi-final and possibly the Dubs in the final. So it’s not an easy path. They’ll be worthy winners if they get there, but they’re in very, very fine fettle.”
‘No weak link in Tyrone team’
Earlier on Saturday, Tyrone took care of business in impressive fashion against Cavan.
But what did we learn about the Red Hands?
“I’m not sure how much more we know, because Cavan were very poor,” McGuinness said.
“Tyrone played very well. They were very good going forward, they were well-organised. They controlled the game from start to finish.
“What I would say about Tyrone, in my opinion anyway, is every single one of those players are very good players. They’re all very good players. Have they got those exceptional players? Probably not, and we’ll see that as the championship progresses potentially.
“When you see Kerry and they have one or two absolute star forwards. And that’s the thing for Tyrone. But Tyrone have won at minor level and U21, being the sum of their parts.
“And this management team has won with that concept as well.
“So can they do it? Will they believe they can do it? They probably will believe that, and there’s no weak link there. There’s no weak link coming off the bench as well, and I think that’s very significant for them.”
Meanwhile, Kieran Donaghy disagreed with the 2012 All-Ireland winning manager about Tyrone’s lack of top-quality players.
“You talk about star quality, Cathal McShane was back in, Conor McKenna is out with a little niggle, he’ll be back in for an Ulster semi-final. Darren McCurry is flying. You can build a lot around those three guys inside,” said the former Kerry star.
“So they’ve got serious options up there, and they’ve got size and power in the middle of the field.
“I think they were really impressive, really strong.
“McCurry has to get a lot of credit, he got 10 points and man of the match. The shape he’s in this year, he has really worked on himself during the off-season. He looks fitter than he’s ever been, and proved it with his play, his overall form and precision.
“Brian Kennedy and Conn Kilpatrick in the middle of the field, they look like they’re really strong in that area. Big strong men, mobile, they’re able to get around the place. Kilpatrick ran himself into the ground.
“They’ll be very formidable, with Cathal McShane coming back and McCurry, they’re in a really good place and they’ll be looking forward to the Ulster semi-final against Donegal.”
Sky Sports’ live GAA coverage continues on Saturday, with the hurling qualifier meeting of Clare and Wexford, before Monaghan and Armagh face off in the Ulster Football Championship semi-final.
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