Cian O'Sullivan: Kerry are better than last season
Pattern emerging as Kerry and Dublin trip over one another to declare their rivals as the favourites to land this year's All-Ireland
IN the battle for lurk-space in the GAA's famed long grass, Dublin are currently ahead by an elbow.
Such is the regularity of their presence at this advanced stage of football's season - and thus so transparent are their ways - Kerry's seventh goal had yet to be scored against a decimated Kildare when fears began to grow for them as to how their players, manager and media cohorts would manage to talk it all down.
Duly, a couple - though Eoin 'Bomber' Liston in particular - couldn't wait until the Cornflakes were soggy on Monday morning before announcing that Dublin remained 'the team to beat'.
Dublin, meanwhile, face no such problems in their quest to big up Kerry's September claims right now while the other four teams left in the competition must be wondering whether they're just some sort of annoying subplot, potential nuisances in the way of the final everyone but them now demands!
"It was extremely impressive. I just saw the highlights. They completely annihilated Kildare," points out Cian O'Sullivan, he of double Dublin All-Ireland-winning fame but Kerry parentage.
"They look like a force to be reckoned with. Some of their goals were extremely impressive.
"They definitely showed why they have that favourites' tag."
What's that, Cian? Favourites, you say?
"Eh, well, yeah, going on that performance, yeah, it's going to take a very, very strong performance to beat Kerry," he added.
"You look at their team, their starting 15 and then who they have coming on off the bench, it's a very impressive outfit."
All of which - whilst clearly designed to turn up the heat on Kerry - is undoubtedly true.
Are they better than last year?
"Yeah, that would be my opinion, yeah."
In what areas?
"David Moran in midfield seems to, eh, that's not saying he didn't have a good season last year, I think he won an All Star, but he seems to have stepped it up even more this year.
"His partnership with (Anthony) Maher seems to be extremely strong, I don't think there's any better midfield partnership in the country at the moment.
"Offensively, they have the Gooch back and Darran O'Sullivan seems to be coming back into a bit of form.
"They have the option of (Kieran) Donaghy coming in or starting, so there's frightening talent there."
Again, all true.
Unsurprisingly, O'Sullivan isn't quite so effusive about Mayo or Donegal's most immediate prospects, clearly mindful not to talk either down ahead of their meeting on Saturday evening for a crack at his Dublin team.
"I honestly find it difficult to call," O'Sullivan says.
"I think it's going to be a very tight game. Mayo's game against Sligo, they were obviously very impressive that day. That is a number of weeks ago now.
"Donegal have the momentum coming in through the backdoor system and put in a very impressive performance at the weekend.
"Some of the goals they scored, team goals, were very impressive. They seem to be motoring well but whoever wins it is going to be a massive test for us in the semis.
"I wouldn't be able to choose either team as a preference."
Still though, surely you'd love a crack at Donegal after last year?
"We looked at that game at the start of the season and we just said we'd draw a line in the sand, move on from there and learn our lessons.
"2015 is a new season.
"You can't be bringing the 2014 season into that. I think, just, regardless of who the opposition is it's a semi-final for us, it's an opportunity to get into another All-Ireland final.
"Which is where we want to be and that's how we approach it."
Pillar Caffrey once remarked after one of his team's All-Ireland semi-final losses that four weeks was too long to keep a team in form.
Against that, plenty will conclude that Dublin haven't really had to find much form to get here, yet alone find effective methods of preserving it.
"There are pluses and minuses. On the one hand you can get a lot of good work done in those four weeks," O'Sullivan says.
"We've had a down week this week. The training has been quite intense for the last number of months and I think we've had on average three weeks between games so we haven't really had a week off as such.
"It's not that we have a week off this week, it's just that the load is tapered down.
"It has given an opportunity for lads to kind of rest the bodies then and that will give us two weeks of hard work and another easy week in the run up to the game.
"Maybe it's a luxury to have four weeks, maybe you don't need it. Three weeks would probably be the ideal time frame.
"We definitely wouldn't be complaining about the fact it's a four-week gap to our next game."