Saturday 17 March 2018

1960: Down break new ground for a rich harvest

Down 2-10
Kerry 0-8

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The occasion won't be lost on Down supporters as they prepare for the trip to Croke Park on Sunday that 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the county's first ever All-Ireland senior success.

It was also the first time that the Sam Maguire Cup crossed the Border amid emotional scenes.

Down's arrival at the top table resulted from a carefully crafted development programme which saw them win a first Ulster title in 1959 (they lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Galway), before booking a place in the final a year later after beating Offaly in a replay.

Kerry, the 1959 champions, were seeking their 20th title and started as favourites to reach the milestone -- only to discover that Down were not in the least overawed by history or reputation. On the contrary, they thrived on the big challenge and took the contest to Kerry for extended periods.

The sides were level early in the second half before Down made the first significant breakthrough, when a long-range kick from James McCartan -- father of the current manager -- dropped into the Kerry net.

Down continued to apply heavy pressure and when Paddy Doherty was fouled in the square, he took the penalty himself and dispatched it past Johnny Culloty to the net.

Down kicked a few further points to run out eight-point winners in front of a crowd of 87,768 -- a record that would be beaten when Down retained the title a year later with a win over Offaly.

It was the beginning of a remarkable run of Down successes against Kerry -- who have yet to beat the Mourne men in the championship. The Down squad of 1960-61 is regarded as one of the best ever, having brought a new level of sophistication to how they prepared and structured themselves.

Down's eight-point winning margin in 1960 was the biggest win over any Kerry team in the All-Ireland up to then (Offaly won the 1972 replay by nine points), which came as quite a shock to the Kingdom aristocrats.

However, they had no answer to the slick movement of the attack where Doherty, McCartan and Sean O'Neill were most effective in a season that's still recalled with pride in Down.

Down -- E McKay; G Lavery, L Murphy, P Rice; K Mussen (capt), D McCartan, K O'Neill; J Lennon, J Carey; S O'Neill, J McCartan, P Doherty; T Hadden, P O'Hagan, B Morgan.

Sub: K Denvir for Lennon.

Kerry -- J Culloty; J O'Shea, N Sheehy, T Lyons; Sean Murphy, K Coffey, M O'Dwyer; M O'Connell, JD O'Connor; Seamus Murphy, T Long, P Sheehy (capt); G McMahon, John Dowling, T Lyne.

Subs: Jack Dowling for John Dowling, J Brosnan for McMahon, D McAuliffe for Lyne.

Ref -- J Dowling (Offaly)

Attendance: 87,768

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport