Kildare star Alan Smith: We fell short against big teams every year
"YOU weren't expecting that, were yiz?!" smirked Alan Smith on Saturday night having agreed to enlighten some assembled media personnel about Kildare's most unexpected of coups.
He was right of course. But then, no-one was really expecting it.
Kildare's traditionally bulksome and excitable support were reduced to a skeleton crew in Semple Stadium, such were the basement levels of anticipation of this team this summer.
"To be honest it was a tough year," Smith admitted.
"All the Kildare fans were saying that Jason was coming under serious pressure as well. We were well aware of it after the league games.
"We got relegated out of Division 2 which was very disappointing.
"After the league we parked it. We can't worry about that until next year. We knew in the championship, if we put things right… people probably won't talk about the league anymore and at the end of the day, it's all about championship. We know we're championship players and that's when we play our best football."
"It was quite embarrassing what happened against Dublin and we still kicked 14 scores against them. We had a couple of bad wides and good have hit the 20-point mark. The goals killed us. After that it was all about getting the win over Offaly and try build up a bit of momentum which we did. We brought that into the Longford game."
Because even in good years - and there were a few under Kieran McGeeney - Kildare haven't successfully hunted such big game, psychologically and physically depleted though Cork most clearly were on Saturday evening.
You probably have to go back as far back as 2000, when Mick O'Dwyer's team beat Dublin in the Leinster final, to locate the last time the Lilies beat a team with such serious pre-season All-Ireland ambitions.
"I've been on the panel since 2008," Smith confirmed, "and we fell short against big teams every single year for years.
"It's my eighth attempt to beat a big team, it's taken eight years so we'll take massive confidence out of this."
Confident enough to rattle Kerry?
"They're All-Ireland champions for a reason. We're gonna be massive underdogs again like we were here," Smith concluded.
"It's gonna be a tough game but we'll take a lot of confidence."