Monday 26 June 2017

Paddy Cullen breaks down the Meath/Dublin four-game saga 25 years later

Meath's Kevin Foley scores late in the game as Dublin supporters on Hill 16 look on. Leinster Senior Football Championship, First Round, Third Replay, Dublin v Meath, Croke Park, Dublin in 1991. Picture credit: SPORTSFILE
Meath's Kevin Foley scores late in the game as Dublin supporters on Hill 16 look on. Leinster Senior Football Championship, First Round, Third Replay, Dublin v Meath, Croke Park, Dublin in 1991. Picture credit: SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

"It will never happen again. The four games, it was wonderful for everyone except our team when they lost," Paddy Cullen on 1991.

As Dublin football manager Paddy Cullen played an integral part in one of the most gripping dramas in GAA history when Meath eventually got the better of Dublin after nearly six hours of Croke Park action.

Here Cullen breaks down each of the four games and the moments which shaped the remarkable quartet of games 25 years ago.

Game 1 - Meath 1-12 Dublin 1-12, June 2, 1991

"When I think of the first match, the ball hopped over the bar for the equalising point. I shouldn't be mentioning names here but it is 25 years so what the hell.

"Mick Deegan was soloing with the ball towards the Hogan Stand, all he has to do is kick it up into the upper deck, he solos with the ball, tips it away and PJ Gillick gets the ball.

"He is over by the Hogan Stand, he boots the ball in, and it bounces in the square and over the bar. It could have gone into the net, which would have been worse, but it somehow bounced over the bar."

Game 2 - Meath 1-11 Dublin 1-11 (AET), June 9, 1991

"I keep mentioning names but he won't mind, Vinny Murphy, great man – had great time for Vinny Murphy. He got through with the ball in the last minute. All we needed was a point, just fist it over the bar, Vinny.

"I asked him afterwards, and he said 'Paddy, when I see the goal, I go for it.' He went for it and the keeper blocked it and it was literally the kick-out and the game was over. Missed out on that point."

Game 3 - Meath 1-14 Dublin 2-11, June 23, 1991 (AET)

"Paul Clarke had the ball, we had worked the ball up the field very well, just needed a point and the game was over and Clarke was about 35 yards and Paul was usually fairly accurate but it went wide."

Game 4 - Meath 2-10 Dublin 0-15, July 6, 1991

"It was full of excitement, there was the Keith Barr penalty and Mick Lyons was inside the square and you didn't know who was taking the penalty and we ended up missing it.

"We still led by six points with 11 minutes to go - we were up their end of the pitch, game almost over and Vinny could have kicked it in the canal and the time would been over but he was robbed.

"And they moved the ball and got the goal. And then David Beggy, who I know very well, for him to get the winning point, it is like an old woman getting a point from about 75 yards.

"I mean, if you were to put money on anyone getting the winning point, it wouldn't be David Beggy and we have been laughing about it since.

"When I saw the ball coming to Beggy I said, 'He's never going to put it over'. Then it's over, he puts it over! It was surreal, yeah. I just remember shaking hands to Sean Boylan saying, 'Sean, what can I say? Well done', or 'I hate you'.

"You don't say anything, you'd be in a bit of shock. Those games were so intense and the build-up to them and the training for them and watching that they weren't overtraining.

"Sean believes, now I certainly don't believe it, but he took them away to Scotland during the week coming up to the fourth match. In my estimation, it did nothing for them because they were six points behind with 10 minutes to go.

"Unless he waved some magic wand or something but he reckons that's maybe what did it for them. I don't think so. They got a break, you get them in life, something just happens and you get a break.

"After that match, if that goal didn't go in he would have been slated, they would have tore him asunder. Great footballer, fantastic guy. So you get a break in life, in a match. We really didn't....we made all our breaks but we didn't get any."

"I don't like looking back at the videos because it is like a movie that you know the ending of, But I am sure in Meath, they re-live it and re-live it and fair play to them, they won it. What can you do?"

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