Saturday 21 April 2018

1947: The Fairytale in New York

Cavan 2-11
Kerry 2-7

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Staging the All-Ireland final in the Polo Grounds, New York ensured the 1947 final of a special place in history.

The GAA decided to take the final to New York as a gesture of goodwill towards the Irish community in the US , many of whom worked extremely hard to promote Gaelic football and hurling in various cities and states.

Naturally, the decision was warmly greeted by players in all counties as it offered two squads the rare opportunity to not only travel to New York, but to participate in what would be a unique sporting occasion.

A combined attendance of 126,000 saw Cavan and Kerry advance to the final at the expense of Roscommon and Meath respectively.

Players travelled to New York by ship and plane for the final, which was fixed for September 14. It turned into an occasion which really captured the public imagination at home and in New York. The Polo Grounds was used for baseball, so the dimensions were much smaller than the norm for GAA grounds.

The surface was also extremely hard and since the game was played on a hot September afternoon, it was tough on the players, but they still managed to serve up an excellent contest.

It had a 3.0 throw-in (local time) leaving football fans back home in Ireland tuned into their radios at 8.0 for Micheal O'Hehir's commentary.

Kerry got away to a great start with goals from Batt Garvey and Eddie Dowling.

However, Cavan settled down from there on and goals by Joe Stafford and Mick Higgins set them on their way to a 2-5 to 2-4 lead at half-time.

They won the second half by 0-6 to 0-3 to clinch the title for third time (they added a fourth crown a year later). Peter Donohoe scored eight points for Cavan, with Mick Higgins kicking 1-2. Tom 'Gega' O'Connor was Kerry's top scorer on 0-5.

Playing the final in New York was regarded as a great success, drawing a crowd of 39,941. Fifty years later, Cavan and Kerry returned to New York to commemorate the 1947 final with a National League game.

Cavan -- V Gannon; B Doonan, B O'Reilly, P Smith; J Wilson, JJ O'Reilly (capt), S Deignan; PJ Duke, P Brady; T Tighe, M Higgins, C McDyer; J Stafford, P Donohoe, TP O'Reilly.

Kerry -- D O'Keeffe; D Lyne (capt), J Keohane, P Brosnan; J Lyne, W Casey, E Walsh; E Dowling, E O'Connor; E O'Sullivan, D Kavanagh, B Garvey; F O'Keeffe, T O'Connor, O Kennedy.

Subs: W O'Donnell for Dowling, M Finucane for Walsh, T Brosnan for O'Donnell, G Teehan for Kennedy.

Ref -- M O'Neill (Wexford)

Attendance: 34,941

Irish Independent

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