High-quality draw between Donegal and Kerry had you on the edge of your seat

Kerry's Paul Murphy attempts to halt the progress of Donegal captain Michael Murphy
Kerry's Paul Murphy attempts to halt the progress of Donegal captain Michael Murphy

Sometimes this sport can leave you frustrated, exasperated and downright angry. Other times it will lift you up or force you to the edge of the seat wondering how anyone could not love Gaelic football.

Donegal and Kerry's draw on Sunday falls into the latter category.

Without doubt it was the best game we have seen in the All-Ireland SFC in a number of seasons.

There are lots of things that combine to make a good game, and this one had them all.

Drama, scores, individual brilliance, leadership, talking points. Take your pick.

The best thing about this game, however, was the quality from the first minute to the last.

We've seen some exciting games this season with big scores, but often it's a case of quantity over quality.

This was the game at its swashbuckling best, with big players standing up in key moments and refusing to back down with it all on the line.

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Donegal showed 'real character' in Kerry draw - Bonner

Murphy takes games to new heights

If not condemned to defeat, Donegal were presumed by many onlookers to be there for the taking after news of injuries to Paddy McGrath and Eoghan Ban Gallagher emerged.

When Neil McGee was seen in the stands before throw-in, things looked a little more ominous for Declan Bonner's side.

What transpired over 70 minutes in Dublin was a reaffirmation of something that we should never, ever forget: don't rule out a team which contains Michael Murphy.

His 1-7 performance was arguably the most influential of his inter-county career, and that is saying something.

You can't emphasise enough what he gives that team, and when you also have top-level players performing as consistently as Patrick McBrearty and Ryan McHugh, you're going to be a tough team to beat.

The beauty of it is that most moves start from the back with McHugh, while McBrearty is constantly giving an option in the full-forward line as Murphy floats.

For all the talk of Donegal's exciting young talent, these three continue to be the deadliest weapons in Bonner's arsenal.

Jamie Brennan was quiet, which isn't uncommon for young players.

Mind you, he still had an impact on the game. His performances in Ulster meant Kerry respected him enough to have him marked throughout the game (by the excellent Tom O'Sullivan), which meant they could not afford to double-mark McBrearty which let him off the leash.

I have no doubt Brennan will be a star, but you don't become a top player until you show that you can deliver time and again, even when you have the full attention of the opposition.

Will they beat Mayo in Castlebar?

It's a tough ask at the best of times, and they will hope that the injuries that forced Jason McGee and Hugh McFadden off on Sunday are not long term.

It is going to be one hell of an ask with a depleted squad, but they've every reason to back themselves.

Peter Harte shields the ball from Killian O'Hanlon during Tyrone's comeback win over Cork
Peter Harte shields the ball from Killian O'Hanlon during Tyrone's comeback win over Cork

Tyrone grit teeth and show class

Tyrone took the long way around against Cork in what was far from a convincing 70-minute performance.

But what you should take from that game is that they were asked questions, put up against a wall and they found answers. The challenge was put out to them and they responded.

At half-time their changing room would not have been a nice one to be in, but Mickey Harte kept them in for a long time and clearly set a plan in place.

Most impressive was the speed in which they turned the game on its head.

Scoring a lot of points in a short period of time has become a common theme among the best teams in the country.

Look at how Dublin react when they score, or rather look at how they don't react.

They rush straight back into position for the next kick-out. They know that after a goal they have got their foot on their opponent's throat, meaning that's the perfect time to turn the intensity up another gear.

Tyrone only overwhelmed Cork for 10 minutes, but it was enough to turn a five-point deficit into a two-point lead.

That's top team pedigree, and that's what Tyrone will take from their toughest win of the Championship to date.

Red Hands perhaps eyeing an Ulster re-run

Best of all for Tyrone is that their semi-final place is assured. Having a game against Dublin at this point in the summer that has no bearing is a rare treat.

In terms of semi-final opponents, Tyrone won't care who they get.

What is key is that it isn't going to be the Dubs.

I imagine they might relish another crack at Donegal, given the manner of their defeat to the Ulster champions at Kingspan Breffni.

The way they were dismantled on that day will have left a bad taste in the mouths of that Tyrone squad, and now that they've worked through the gears they'll want to right a few wrongs.

Mayo, Kerry or Donegal, it won't matter to Tyrone. They are in the last four and that's what matters.

Tighter at the top?

After every brilliant performance, every outstanding game, you can be sure of hearing one question.

'It was good, but could they beat the Dubs?"

They could, of course. But Dublin are still the best team in the land by a country mile. Every time I watch them I am more impressed.

They swept aside the Connacht champions without breaking a sweat and won't be worried about any team left in the competition.

Tyrone were good last weekend, Kerry and Donegal were electric.

But you're going to have to be something different altogether if you want to beat the Dubs.

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