Getting inside Dublin heads
Published 26/02/2011 | 05:00
NO opposition has tormented Dublin to the same degree as Kerry. Over many years, Kerry have chastised their city rivals, frequently at times when Dublin appeared ready to achieve something really significant. Quite often too, it has been in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable.
For the first time since the 1984 All-Ireland final, Dublin went into a championship game with Kerry as favourites, a rating based more on hype than reality.
Dublin had won a fifth successive provincial title, but it was a spurious currency based on how they -- and indeed others from Leinster -- had fared over previous years.
Kerry had lost heavily to Cork in the Munster semi-final replay and weren't especially impressive against Longford, Sligo and Antrim in the All-Ireland qualifiers, while there were also rumours of internal frictions.
However, the Kerry squad had 31 All-Ireland senior medals between them, so there was no doubting their pedigree. They majored in drive and determination, a combination which devastated Dublin.
Kerry led by 1-6 to 0-1 after the first quarter and maintained their massive momentum all the way to the finish line, winning by 1-24 to 0-17.
Pat Gilroy: "We were like startled earwigs out there. There were so many changes we could have made -- we were getting killed everywhere."
Jack O'Connor: "We felt that we'd click somewhere along the line. We did today."
Dublin 2-11 (draw)
Dublin 1-12 (replay)
As events transpired in the All-Ireland semi-final, Kerry were there for the taking (Meath beat them by 15 points). Kerry, the defending All-Ireland champions, ran smoothly for 58 minutes against Dublin in the drawn game, opening up an eight-point lead before being hit by a 2-3 blitz, which left Dublin a point clear in stoppage time.
Enter Maurice Fitzgerald and his famous point from a long-range sideline kick which drew Kerry level. Even then, Dublin had a late chance to snatch the winner, but failed to avail of it.
John Crowley hit 2-2 as Kerry won the replay despite having Tomas O Se sent off early in the second half, leaving Dublin to regret how they failed to see things through to a successful conclusion first time out.
1984 All-Ireland final
The 'RTE Guide' played an unlikely role in psyching up Kerry against a Dublin team which was defending the title they won in the controversial final of 1983. Kerry had lost to Offaly and Cork respectively by a point in '82 and '83 (All-Ireland and Munster finals) so Dublin started as favourites to retain the title.
Bizarrely, an article in the 'RTE Guide' described the Kerry squad as "a cowardly blend of experienced players, has-beens and a few newcomers."
Tom Spillane was described as "the most glaring weakness" who would be subjected to a "severe roasting" by Tommy Conroy, while Ger Lynch was classed "as a nice footballer but a poor marker" who would be overwhelmed by Barney Rock.
The game? An easy win for Kerry.
Mick O'Dwyer: "Describing a Kerry team -- especially one that had so many proven winners aboard -- as cowardly was like telling a Rottweiler that he was an ugly mutt. The 'RTE Guide' piece was one man's opinion but I told the players that this was what the outside world really thought of them. It wasn't, of course, but why spoil such a juicy line with the truth?"
1978 All-Ireland final
One of the most amazing turnarounds in football final history. Dublin, hot favourites as they pursued the three-in-a-row, led by five points after 20 minutes but lost the remaining 50 minutes by 5-10 to 0-3.
Mikey Sheehy's goal, plus a hat-trick by 'Bomber' Liston, destroyed Dublin who, to this day, can't really explain how it all went so horribly wrong.
Failing to win the three-in-a-row was one thing, but to be utterly humiliated in the final was devastating. It was the end of that great Dublin team as an All-Ireland force.
Jimmy Deenihan: "We were let out of jail really. It was incredible. Dublin should have sewn it up. They got too cocky. There were backs having pot shots at goals."
Robbie Kelleher: "I remember watching Kerry in their semi-final of 1978 and looking at Eoin Liston. I said: 'is that the best they can come up with?' How wrong can you be?"
All-Ireland final 1975
'Heffo's Army' were over a year on the road and apparently ready for another big conquest. Chasing their first All-Ireland two-in-a-row since 1922, they were well fancied to beat a young Kerry team which Mick O'Dwyer had assembled in his first season as manager.
He talked them down in a typical Kerry way ("the media bought into the line that we were no more than hopeful youngsters who got lucky") but deep down they were quite confident they had the players and the plan to beat Dublin, which they duly did.
It was all quite comfortable too as Croke Park got its first real look at a team which won seven more All-Irelands over the next 11 years.
Mick O'Dwyer: "I remarked in the dressing-room afterwards that this was the best Kerry team of all time. What I really meant was that they were going to be the best Kerry team of all time, which they were."
Dublin were empire-building after winning the 1958 title but Kerry, who lost to Waterford in the '57 Munster championship, again out-foxed them.
Mick O'Connell turned in a brilliant performance, helping Kerry into an eight-point lead. Dublin pared it back to two but, once again, couldn't quite figure out the Kingdom on a really big day.
1955 All-Ireland final
Dublin had brought a new style to their attacking play -- it was later claimed that the successful Down team of 1960/61 based their approach on the intricate moves -- but it didn't make much impression on the Kerry defence.
Kerry led by six points late on before Ollie Freaney scored a goal from a free for Dublin. They poured forward in search of the equaliser, but with Jerome O'Shea leading the Kerry resistance, the Kingdom held on for a victory which secured an 18th All-Ireland title.