Saturday 16 December 2017

1974: Cullen's penalty save kicks off Dubs' golden era

Dublin 0-14
Galway 1-6

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

When Galway beat Donegal comfortably in the All-Ireland semi-final, it booked them in for a third final in four seasons and although they had lost to Offaly in 1971 and to Cork in 1973, many felt that their greater big-day experience would prove too much for Dublin.

However, something hugely significant was under way in Dublin. Without an All-Ireland title since 1963 and with a lengthy run of poor championship seasons behind them, Dublin were the ultimate sleeping giant when Kevin Heffernan took over as manager at the end of 1973.

By the time they reached the 1974 final, 'Heffo's Army' was on the march in a manner which suggested that there was an emotional bind between the rapidly improving team and the supporters.

Wins over Meath in the Leinster final and reigning All-Ireland champions Cork in the semi-final left Dublin in confident mood as they headed into the final.

However, drawing on their greater experience, Galway were the better side in the first half and a goal by Michael Rooney set them on their way to an interval lead of 1-4 to 0-5.

Significantly, though, Galway had missed several good chances, leaving Dublin well placed for a second-half surge.

They outscored Galway by 0-9 to 0-2 in the second half (halves were 40 minutes long in 1970-74), during which a possible game-changer came when Dublin conceded a penalty.

They were a point behind at the time, so it really was a crucial moment when Liam Sammon faced up to Paddy Cullen.

Sammon's kick was good, but Cullen made a marvellous save which inspired his colleagues, who raised momentum to a level Galway simply couldn't reach.

Galway failed to score in the final 13 minutes, while Dublin added five more points through Jimmy Keaveney (0-3) and one each from David Hickey and Brian Mullins.

Dublin's win was the start of a glorious era for the squad as they went to win two of the next three All-Ireland titles, while reeling off six successive Leinster titles.

It had an immensely positive impact on Gaelic football in the capital and remains an era that's still fondly recalled by the Hill 16 faithful.

Dublin -- P Cullen; G O'Driscoll, S Doherty (capt), R Kelleher; P Reilly, A Larkin, G Wilson; B Mullins, S Rooney; B Doyle, T Hanahoe, D Hickey; J McCarthy, J Keaveney, A O'Toole.

Galway -- G Mitchell (capt); J Waldron, J Cosgrove, B Colleran; L O'Neill, TJ Gilmore, J Hughes; B Joyce, M Rooney; T Naughton, J Duggan, P Sands; C McDonagh, L Sammon, J Tobin. Sub: J Burke for McDonagh.

Ref -- P Devlin (Tyrone)

Attendance: 73,309

Irish Independent

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