A small admission this morning. In the last 12 months it has been my great pleasure to spend many hours over many days in the company of Mickey Harte. I like the man for his calmness and straightness, and I am completely enthralled by the brilliance of his mind. He is Gaelic football's greatest teacher.
Every single county out there could learn from him and dramatically improve itself. The likes of Meath and Dublin and Mayo and Donegal and Derry especially could, but included in this number who would benefit from the man's teachings are Tyrone's opponents in this afternoon's tempting All-Ireland final. And yet, I see Mickey Harte about to enter a contest which Tyrone can not win.
There is a good chance in fact, that Tyrone may be crushed, and forced to leave Croke Park through the same exit as the sorrowful hurlers from Waterford. We're not talking about a gigantic defeat, but something painful, and quite merciless all the same.
Destiny is on Kerry's side in the second-half of this summer, and deservedly so. They have been big and bold and daring, and they have taken ill luck and an ugly great slice of injustice in their stride. Pat O'Shea is standing in the middle of a group of men who have not been especially beautiful or brilliant these last six months, but he should be extremely proud of a team which is close to completing a hat-trick of All-Ireland titles in the hardest way possible.
Also on Kerry's side is twice as much firepower in a forward division which is simply bigger, stronger and infinitely more skilful than Tyrone's six up front. Tyrone have energy and clinical methodology when they go on attack, and have the cutting creativity of Sean Cavanagh at number 14, but they do not appear to have the ability to overpower a wobbly and vulnerable Kerry defence.
That's really the big, big difference between the two teams. And it's a huge advantage.
Whether Tyrone sit back in numbers and look to create a fairly decent level of gridlock in their own half of the field (as they have succeeded against Kerry in summers past), or whether they continue the massively adventurous attacking battle-plan which we witnessed in their quite conclusive victories over Dublin and Wexford in their last two games in Croker, that advantage does not change.
The best bet for Mickey Harte might be for Philip Jordan and Davy Harte to continue to race forward at every second opportunity, and for Ciaran Gourley and Ryan McMenamin to follow hot on their heels like complete madmen - like they did in the quarter-final and semi-final. In doing so, Jordan and Harte can quickly enough turn the tables on Bryan Sheehan and Eoin Brosnan, and successfully take both half forwards out of the game for lengthy stretches.
Even though some of us, me included, consider the greatest chunk of Tyrone's performances in the 2008 league and championship to have been only mediocre-to-good, Harte's team has made its way through every single month in a business-like and positively competitive manner. Since the beginning of the summer, they have been steady enough as it goes. Not great, but always working hard and solidly.
However, as we now look back from the vantage point of mid-September on the morning of the All-Ireland final, it has to be admitted that Tyrone have had an easy enough route to the final. Since losing to Down over the course of two tough and testing games in their opener in Ulster, Tyrone have won five games, four against Leinster teams.
In trying to determine how good this Tyrone team really is, it's best, and wisest, to think and talk of Tyrone as the reigning Leinster champions. And that is not necessarily something to boast about. The one outstanding performance, which Tyrone have put on the board this year is that single, surprising and quite fantastic victory over Dublin.
But this is Kerry in the other dressing room this afternoon, not Dublin. How can Harte possibly succeed? Switching Ryan McMenamin and Ciaran Gourley onto Colm Cooper and Tommy Walsh (right) would be a good start, and that will certainly have Tyrone on the right road. McMenamin was born and reared to mark The Gooch, and Gourley will have enough reach and upper body strength for a close, physical battle with the remarkable Walsh.
Still, Tyrone's chances improve with this switch. Equally, swapping Justin McMahon and Conor Gormley in their number three and number six roles might further improve Tyrone's chances of making a tight game of this. Gormley has what it takes to get to grips with Kieran Donaghy early on at least, and Justin McMahon's skill-level, and speed and quick reading of the game would be very suited in a match-up against the artistry of Declan O'Sullivan.
Taking Gormley out of the centre is a big gamble, and Harte may stubbornly refuse to further break-up his defence beyond dispatching McMenamin and Gourley to opposite corners. After that, the Tyrone manager must stand on the sideline and believe that his team can play their own game, thoroughly and truly, and win.
But, at that point, everything about this game appears to turn in Kerry's favour. If Marc Ó Sé takes up the challenge posed by the presence of Sean Cavanagh at full-forward, then Kerry's full-back line looks secure enough for the Kerry management team. For once!
Pat O'Shea is every bit as deserving of this victory as his team. It's within his grasp if he sees his full-back line stabilised and, from there, the reappearance of Darragh Ó Sé, and the seismic return of Paul Galvin if and when he is called onto the field, will ensure that Kerry manager holds practically all of the aces over Mickey Harte.
There is every chance that the game could be over earlier rather than later. Kerry have played too many large portions of too many games at a higher level than Tyrone this eventful summer. Admittedly, they have hardly played their way impressively all through the 70 minutes of one single game, but that final, commanding performance looks like it is going to be left to last.