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Counihan's Rebels on the brink of rare trophy haul

MANY have tried and failed, leaving Cork footballers trying to emulate a feat that hasn't been achieved for 74 years.

If they beat Dublin on Sunday, they will become the first county since Mayo in 1937 to win successive Football League Division 1 titles having captured an All-Ireland crown in between.

It shows just how difficult a challenge it is, but then retaining the league title has proved an elusive target, never mind picking up the All-Ireland in between.

Tyrone (2002-2003) was the last county to win a league double while, in the previous decade, Derry achieved it in 1995-96. Tyrone won the 2003 All-Ireland title but failed to win the league in 2004, while Derry made no real championship progress in 1995 or 1996.


Even the great Kerry and Dublin teams of the 1975-86 period, who between them won 11 All-Irelands, never retained league titles -- although Kerry had won four-in-a-row early in the decade. However, they went from 1970 to 1975 without an All-Ireland win.

It's not that unusual to pick up a league title in spring, followed by the All-Ireland in September, but returning the following year to win another league crown has proved beyond several outstanding teams.

Cork's bid to win three national titles in 12 months underlines just how consistent they have been since Conor Counihan took over as manager. They won the Division 2 title in 2009, so they're actually bidding for a spring treble, albeit the first coming in a lower division.

A Cork win would lift them into joint fourth place alongside Meath on the Division 1 honours table with seven titles. Dublin are seeking their ninth league title, which would close the gap with second-placed Mayo to two.

However, Kerry remain the undisputed kings of the league as well as the All-Ireland, having won 19 National Leagues to accompany their 36 championship triumphs.

Irish Independent

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