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Dublin's exit will ward off potential Kerry complacency

Imagine being in the camps of today's quarter-finalists as they watched the matches yesterday and digested what has happened to the All-Ireland race.

PJ's Galway had blown the door off the hinges. Suddenly both matches take on even greater significance as the possibility of All-Ireland final berths and the title itself becomes so much more attainable.

Derry v Kerry in 2023 was the game of the year. Rewinding the clock to that semi-final weekend last year, it’s fair to say expectations were at the lower end of things. Derry and Monaghan both played their underdog parts with gusto.

Kerry and Dublin for their part appeared to play with one eye on the presumptive final against each other and at a level down from respective quarter-final ties where old rivals Tyrone and Mayo had stoked the fires of performance.

The set-up for this year’s Kerry v Derry instalment is very different. Kerry have played no team within the top eight of the country. They badly need a test even if that test could land them out on their rear end.

Top teams tend to need the prospect of battle against a foe they view as a rival to bring out their best. The week leading into such games are a very different feeling from anything else. There is an unmistakable energy in the air, equal parts tension, anxiety and excitement.

Sports psychologists may say negative motivation is not the way to go, but for championship football it remains the ultimate way of ensuring a team is ready to play.

And Kerry, last year against Tyrone, were ready to play.

When Kerry play with real intensity and aggression they are something else. We haven’t seen that this year so far, simply because there has been no opponent there yet that lights those fuses.

Derry, I reckon, will.