Sunday 11 December 2016

Semi-final agony: Mourne men have had their share

Published 29/08/2010 | 05:00

1959

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Galway 1-11, Down 1-4

HAVING won the Ulster final for the first time in their history, a feverish support accompanied Down to Dublin for the All-Ireland semi-final. It was the first championship clash between the counties and the novel pairing captured the imagination of the country. However, the Mourne men fell short on the day, but the experience stood them as they were back to claim back-to-back All-Ireland titles in the following two years.

1963

Dublin 2-11, Down 0-7

At this time Down had a happy arrangement about selectors. Rather than nominating club or area representatives, the county board chose people whom they considered the most knowledgeable. The result was that it took them two minutes to pick the team for the semi-final and 20 minutes to choose the subs. But it made no difference on this occasion, and Dublin went on to beat Galway in the final.

1965

Galway 0-10, Down 0-7

These were undoubtedly the teams of the '60s. Down went into this game quietly confident. They had the one of the most dangerous forward combinations in the country in Paddy Doherty and Seán O'Neill. They also had former Galway player George Glynn on their side. The six-footer took a job teaching in Down and lined out in the red and black. He had won Connacht junior and senior titles with Galway and did likewise in Ulster. Galway, though, went on to complete the second leg of a famous three-in-a-row.

1966

Meath 2-16, Down 1-9

This semi-final was Down's sixth in eight years. By now, they had picked up the nickname 'Dapper Down'. Back then it was common practice to play high-profile challenge games in preparation for big matches. The week before the game, Down played a Dublin selection in front of a big crowd at Newry. They gave an impressive performance but were undone by Meath in the game that counted.

1971

Galway 3-11, Down 2-7

It wasn't often that legendary Down forward Seán O'Neill was held scoreless in a championship game at Croke Park but Jack Cosgrave accomplished the rare feat for Galway. The Tribesmen had a young team, the oldest player was Seamus Leydon at 28. Down were at the rebuilding stage and had retained the services of veteran Paddy Doherty to fill the role of player manager. But they weren't a match for Galway again and had to wait six years before coming close to Sam Maguire again.

1978

Dublin 1-16, Down 0-8

The game was somewhat overshadowed by crowd trouble in the lower Hogan Stand. A minute before half-time Down's Cathal Digney received his marching orders for a foul on David Hickey. When referee Tommy Moran blew for the break, bottles and cans were hurled at him, injuring innocent bystanders in the process. The behaviour of the fans ensured a big Garda presence at the end of the game. Dublin went on to get hammered by Kerry in the All-Ireland final.

1981

Offaly 0-12, Down 0-6

An emerging Offaly team was learning all the time, and of course would ultimately go into history the following year as the team that stopped the five-in-a-row. They had the Mighty C's placed strategically around the park and Down couldn't respond. These men were the Connors, Liam, Richie, Tomás and Matt, as well as Charlie Conroy, Liam Currans and Gerry Carroll. Matt Connor hit seven of Offaly's 12 points.

-- MARIE CROWE

Sunday Independent

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