EMMET BOLTON didn't get to see Dublin's rollicking league victory over Mayo on Saturday night.
Probably just as well, for fear that it might leave him wondering how can he and his fellow Kildare defenders dream to curtail the currently unstoppable force of nature that is Bernard Brogan.
But Bolton is not just an ultra-consistent performer on the pitch – reflected in All Star nominations three years running – but a level-headed operator off it. He knows you cannot hope to completely stifle Brogan in one-to-one combat, so the best form of defence is to attack his supply line at source.
And besides, even if Kildare don't completely nullify Dublin's assassin-in-chief next Sunday, there is always the possibility that Seanie Johnston might balance the books at the far end.
Johnston has yet to face Dublin in league or championship combat for his adopted county. Things didn't go his way when sprung from the bench during an absorbing O'Byrne Cup final last January... nor, for that matter, did Brogan catch fire on the night: in seven mostly prolific appearances for Dublin this year, this was the only time he has failed to score from play.
On that occasion he was well shepherded by Ollie Lyons but, as Bolton has now warned: "Look, I wouldn't say Bernard would be too worried about an O'Byrne Cup final. He's more looking forward to the summer."
The 'Eadestown Express' was speaking in the wake of Kildare's two-point victory over Kerry at St Conleth's Park on Sunday. The previous night, Brogan had shot the lights out against Mayo in Croke Park. Now these arch-rivals with pristine top-flight records will meet in Croker next Sunday afternoon: something has gotta give.
"I missed the (Dublin/Mayo) game but heard he got – what? – 1-10. Look, a lot of the ball going into him has to be stopped. There needs to be a lot of pressure on out the field," Bolton maintained.
"If you put someone on him, a man-marker, you're probably only using him for damage-limitation.
"To kick 1-10 is a massive score for one player in one game ... they have young (Jack) McCaffrey and other lads like that who are extremely good, they're extremely mobile as well.
"If we can stop them out the pitch and stop their runners kicking balls into Bernard, it'll probably go towards our result at the end of the day."
Bolton, however, is quick to stress that Dublin are no one-pronged attack. "If you keep Bernard quiet, you might have to keep the likes of Kevin McManamon quiet as well," he pointed out.
"Paul Flynn has won an All Star the last two years in a row so if (Brogan) doesn't perform they're going to have someone else to step up to the grade ... but, you know, it's a good challenge. That's where you want to be. We're on six points, so are they; I'd rather be playing top-of-the-table clashes like that at this time of the year."
Ditto Seánie Johnston who, forced to sit out much of last season during his intractable transfer saga, is now making up for lost time.
With Dublin as the ideal litmus test, the Cavan native will aim to build on his match-winning return against the Kingdom – 1-3 from play, all bar one point during an eye-catching first half.
Proof of the level he can play at? "Yeah, and another bit as well," suggested Bolton. "His workrate is extremely good, and he's very unselfish as well. If the shot is not on, he'll lay it off. His attitude is fantastic.
"He probably got a lot of unfair criticism last year and this year as well. But he's turned a blind eye to it and he sticks his head down at training.
"He doesn't let anything faze him and I think it showed out there in the first half, the talent that he has."
Last word on what Kildare need against the Dubs? "If we perform like that in the second half (against Kerry) we'll struggle big time, but if we play the way we can we have every chance. It's going to be a massive game."