Saturday 24 March 2018

1982: Kerry stunned as Darby derails the Drive for Five

Offaly 1-15
Kerry 0-17

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

What is it about the five-in-a-row? It still remains an unsolved puzzle in Gaelic games, with Kilkenny hurlers the latest to fail in their attempt to find the elusive answer.

They came up eight points short against Tipperary last Sunday week, which leaves Kerry footballers as the team that came closest of all to landing the 'big five'.

Seamus Darby's dramatic late strike is one of the most famous goals of all time, having completed an Offaly revival that seemed improbable, when Kerry, a point ahead at the time, were awarded a penalty in the second half.

However, Martin Furlong saved Mikey Sheehy's kick and although Kerry later went four points clear, Offaly clawed their way back and were eventually rewarded with the match-winning goal. The debate still rages on as to whether Tommy Doyle was fouled before Darby won possession and lashed the ball past Charlie Nelligan in the Kerry goal. However, referee PJ McGrath decided that the goal was valid, leaving shell-shocked Kerry to rue missed chances which, over previous years, would have been converted into match-winning scores. Offaly's success under the management baton of Irish Independent columnist Eugene McGee was the culmination of a slow, patient build-up over three seasons.

Featuring no fewer than five sets of brothers (Mick, Sean and Brendan Lowry, Liam and Tomas Connor, Mick and Pat Fitzgerald, Matt and Richie Connor, Seamus and Stephen Darby), Offaly twice came up short against Kerry -- in the 1980 semi-final and the 1981 final -- but finally got it right in the most remarkable circumstances, just as the Kingdom were about to move into unexplored territory. It was a devastating blow for Kerry, who hadn't lost a championship game since the 1977 All-Ireland semi-final. They lost to Cork through another late goal in the 1983 Munster final, prompting suggestions that the great era was over. That notion was totally unfounded, though, as Kerry returned with awesome power to win the 1984-85-86 finals.

However, it remains a source of huge disappointment in Kerry that the five-in-a-row was not achieved with what is generally regarded as the best squad in football history.

Offaly -- M Furlong; M Lowry, L Connor, M Fitzgerald; P Fitzgerald, S Lowry, L Currams; T Connor, P Dunne; J Guinan, R Connor (capt), G Carroll; J Mooney, M Connor, B Lowry. Subs: Stephen Darby for M Lowry, Seamus Darby for Guinan.

Kerry -- C Nelligan; G O'Keeffe, J O'Keeffe, P Lynch; P O Se, T Kennelly, T Doyle; J O'Shea, S Walsh; G Power, T Spillane, D 'Ogie' Moran; M Sheehy, E Liston, J Egan (capt). Sub: P Spillane for Moran.

Ref -- PJ McGrath (Mayo).

Attendance: 62,309

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