There was no way of glossing over the attendance figure at Croke Park on Sunday, not even Ger Canning calling 33,848 "just under 34,000" could help, ticket prices and the fact that the encounter had been billed by chicken-counting ne'er-do-wells as the 2019 second place play-off possibly contributing to the banks of empty seats and an atmosphere, in the early stages at least, more commonly found on the moon.
A factor too, maybe, was the fear that Kerry and Tyrone would heed Joe Brolly's advice and not turn up at all, him reckoning the drive for five was done and dusted come full-time on Saturday evening.
Mercifully, though, for those who had made the effort to attend the game, Kerry and Tyrone did indeed grace the place with their presence, but all you could hope was that they didn't have RTÉ piped in to their dressing rooms because all they'd have heard was Pat Spillane, Stephen Rochford and Kevin McStay purring and swooning about the Dubs' second half performance against Mayo.
Crème de la crème
"Awesome, that was Gaelic football at its best," said Pat, dismissing all those who claim the game is deceased because it isn't a patch on the olden days. These Dubs, he reckons, are the crème de la crème, or the creme de la menthe, as Del Boy used to put it.
Joanne Cantwell described Dublin as the heavyweight champions and wondered if either of the second semi-finalists were capable of being a worthy challenger come All Ireland day, or would it be like putting in a flyweight against Andy Ruiz Jr?
Pat was, of course, hopeful that Kiri would deck Tie-rown and go on to put it up to the Dubs, but come half-time he had the look of a man tempted to chuck in the towel.
But then Kerry did unto Tyrone much as Mayo had done unto to them, putting the pedal to the metal, accelerating so speedily they were in danger of picking up penalty points, helping themselves to a rake of points and a goal by Stephen O'Brien that was created by a Maradona-esque Paul Geaney pass that took out a heap of Tyrone men who were surrounding him.
Tyrone were left punch drunk and never really recovered, and while Kerry went on to secure silver you’d hazard a guess they might actually turn up in three weeks’ time to slug it out for gold.
On Saturday, after having a look at Dublin’s bench, Colm O’Rourke recalled Bill Shankly’s reply to a question about who were the second best team in England. “Liverpool’s reserves,” he said.
There were echoes of that on Sky when none other than José Mourinho turned up for punditry duty, him having a bit of free time on his hands this weather. "How many teams, realistically, do you think can win the title," asked David Jones. "Four," said Jose. "Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City B team. When I looked at City's bench yesterday and the players that were not even involved, I think the B team could fight for the title."
City, then, are the Dublin of the Premier League, and José wasn't entirely convinced anyone could dethrone them, least of all their not-so-noisy neighbours. You'd guess, though, that he had signed a zip-your-lips contract before collecting his severance package at United, so he was disappointingly restrained in his comments about his last employers and the players he attempted to manage.
But in fairness to him, he attempted to get around any such agreement with the odd deliciously bitchy aside, like when he suggested Harry Maguire would be worn out in the season ahead attempting to cover for United's left-back. José may be long since gone from United, but his fatwa against Luke Shaw persists. Graeme Souness could only chuckle.
David was decidedly naughty come full-time when we were shown a replay of a sumptuous Paul Pogba pass that led to Marcus Rashford's second goal, Graeme and Jose being two men who share a common complaint, namely Pogba-itis.
“I’ll let you tell us about the quality of the pass, Graeme,” said David, struggling to conceal his grin.
“A quality pass,” said Graeme, nearly choking, before swiftly changing tack. “But you have to admire Rashford for how he took the goal.” David beamed broadly. The muscles in or around Jose’s cheekbones, meanwhile, flexed uncontrollably, Pogba triggering some kind of nervous twitch. So, instead, he opted to focus, at some length, on chat about “compact blocks” and “lower blocks”, which made us understand why Paul might have drifted off during pre-match tactics symposiums.
“How important is it to win your opening game,” David asked him. “Well, I have a fabulous record,” said Jose, as only Jose could. Confidence shaken, but not stirred. The creme de la menthe of egos.