Tyrone and Canavan came up short in 'eyesore' final
SEÁN RYAN AS a game, the All-Ireland final of 1995 was an eyesore, bereft of flowing football, but nonetheless it served up its share of controversy, and is still a source of debate within Dublin and Tyrone ten years on.
Charlie Redmond, who scored the goal that ultimately divided the teams in Dublin's 1-10 to 0-12 victory, was at the centre of the main controversy. In the 46th minute, referee Paddy Russell deemed that Redmond had head-butted an opponent in a moment of retaliation. Redmond was sent off . . . but he didn't leave the pitch until the 48th minute when, as Russell was booking another Dublin player, Paul Clarke, the linesman advised him that Redmond was still on the pitch and ordered him off again. This time, Redmond made the long walk.
There was further controversy in the final minutes as Tyrone piled on the pressure against the 14 men. With a point separating the teams, Seán McLaughlin thought he had equalised when he converted a pass from Peter Canavan, but referee Russell ruled that Canavan had handled the ball on the ground and awarded a free out. Tyrone's last chance had gone.
Prior to the game all the talk had been about 'Peter the Great'. Canavan was seen as Tyrone's ace, and the player most likely to unhinge the disciplined Dublin defence.
At 24, Canavan was at the height of his powers and Dermot Deasy, Dublin's usual full-back, was ruled out through injury. The onerous task of marking the Tyrone wizard fell to Ciarán Walsh, who had suffered the disappointment of missing the 1994 final because of injury.
In the run-up to the game, Walsh drew heavily on the wisdom and experience of Deasy, as he sought a plan to curb Canavan. As Walsh said afterwards: "In some ways, I was on a hiding to nothing. Everybody was talking about 'Peter the Great'. I knew if they got a goal, we might be in trouble. And Canavan was their one threat." Meanwhile, Dublin had their own full-forward making waves going into the game.
Jason Sherlock was a 19-year-old whose goals had lit up the football scene that summer. Now he was expected to deliver in the biggest game of them all. "Whoever marks him will have his hands full," remarked Meath ace Graham Geraghty.
In many ways, the contrasting fortunes of Canavan and Sherlock held the key to the game. Walsh marked Canavan tightly, but fairly. While the Tyroneman managed an 11-point haul, only one point came from play and only one of his ten frees was for a foul on conceded by his marker.
Sherlock, on the other hand, didn't score at all, but it was his brilliance in getting behind the Tyrone defence and beating goalkeeper Finbar McConnell to the ball which laid on the chance for Redmond to score the goal. Jason's legend wasn't harmed at all by his failure to score.
With Redmond only having passed a late fitness test, and unable to take all the frees, Dublin had a variety of free-takers, but none of them managed a 100 per cent record. In a free-ridden game, this let Tyrone off the hook and Canavan's accuracy kept the Ulster team in the game right to the end.
Afterwards, the Tyrone secretary Dominic McCaughey was reported to be looking closely at the possibility of an appeal because of Redmond's refusal to leave the pitch when sent off.
"We do not want to appeal lightly," he said, "and we know that we could stand accused of wanting to take the title from Dublin by other means, having failed to do so on the field of play. But rules are rules and if the Central Council decides that a player who was sent to the line failed to carry out the decision of the referee, then they will have to decide what action must follow and if the decision should be that the title is awarded to Tyrone then no blame can rest on us."
However, Tyrone joint manager Art McRory's anger was with the Dublin team's "deliberate time-wasting tactics. "Dublin will call it controlling the game and they have the right to try what they can. The Association needs to seriously look at it," was his view.
On the outcome itself, McRory said: "Tyrone had their chances and probably deserved a draw, but Dublin deserved it on balance. I'm disappointed with the manner of defeat. So much was placed on Peter Canavan's back today. He was given very little support."
For Dublin, it was a day of deliverance. After the disappointments of 1992 (Donegal), '93 (Derry) and '94 (Down), they had finally put an end to their Ulster jinx.
Former star Tommy Drumm made a comment, which found an echo in every Dublin heart: "The players earned this All-Ireland the hard way. I am delighted for them all, and hopefully we won't have to wait 12 years for another one."
Ten years . . . and counting.
Scorers - Dublin: D Farrell 0-4 (1f), C Redmond 1-1 (0-1f), P Clarke 0-2 (1f), K Barr 0-1 (f), J Gavin 0-1, P Curran 0-1. Tyrone: P Canavan 0-11 (10f), J Gormley 0-1.
Dublin: J O'Leary (capt); P Moran, C Walsh, K Galvin; P Curran, K Barr, M Deegan; P Bealin, B Stynes; J Gavin, D Farrell, P Clarke; M Galvin, J Sherlock, C Redmond. Subs: P Gilroy for K Galvin; R Boyle for M Galvin; V Murphy for Farrell.
Tyrone: F McConnell; P Devlin, C Lawn, F Devlin; R McGarrihy, S McCallan, S McLaughlin; F Logan, J Gormley; C Corr (capt), Pascal Canavan, C Loughran; C McBride, Peter Canavan, S Lawn. Subs: M McGleenan for C Loughran; B Gormley for S Lawn; P Donnelly for S McCallan.
Referee: P Russell (Tipperary)