Sunday 15 September 2019

Dublin's sweet sixteenth - How 16 years of hurt was finally ended in 1958

Decades of the Dubs - The 50s/60s: Dublin ended their 16-year barren spell in 1958 to lift their 16th All-Ireland title - a win that meant more than any other at that time

Kevin Heffernan, captain of the Dublin team, with the Sam Maguire Cup after the 1958 final. Dr. Stuart, President of the GAA, is on the left beside Marcus Wilson of the Dublin team
Kevin Heffernan, captain of the Dublin team, with the Sam Maguire Cup after the 1958 final. Dr. Stuart, President of the GAA, is on the left beside Marcus Wilson of the Dublin team

Rónán Mac Lochlainn

After the pain of their All-Ireland defeat to Kerry three years previously, Dublin failed to build on that relative progress and were beaten by Louth in the 1957 Leinster SFC final by 2-9 to 1-7.

However, there were grounds for cautious optimism a year later and those positive feelings were endorsed as Dublin claimed their third National League title (following the successes of 1953 and '55) when accounting for Kildare by 3-13 to 3-8 in a thrilling decider.

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Ollie Freaney contributed nine points for the Dubs, with Johnny Joyce bagging a brace of goals to help confirm a five-point victory.

Such success prompted talk of a first ever league and championship double for Dublin, but those notions appeared misplaced inside the opening ten minutes of their Leinster Championship quarter-final against Meath.

The concession of two goals inside the opening nine minutes in Drogheda seriously undermined Dublin's ambitions as they trailed by 2-4 to 0-4 at the break.

However, with Lar Foley and Seán 'Yank' Murray combining well at centrefield, the Dubs dominated after the interval, with Foley scoring their goal in a narrow 1-12 to 2-7 victory.

After Carlow were accounted for by 3-9 to 2-7 in their provincial semi-final in Portlaoise, Dublin gained revenge on Louth for 12 months previously as Freaney kicked six points and Kevin Heffernan chipped in with 1-1 in their 1-11 to 1-6 success.

Dublin's reward for winning Leinster was an All-Ireland semi-final clash with a talented Galway outfit that featured 13 of their players that started in their All-Ireland winning team of two years previously.

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The Connacht champions held the upper hand for the majority of the game, albeit narrowly, but Dublin managed to restore parity as the contest reached a dramatic conclusion.

Ollie Freaney was to prove the hero once again as his free from 40 metres with the last kick of the game proved pivotal in Dublin's 2-7 to 1-9 victory, with Joyce once again finding the net on two occasions.

Dublin were well fancied to end their barren run of 16 years with an All-Ireland SFC title as they faced a Derry team that were appearing in their first All-Ireland decider.

The omens were positive from a Dublin perspective as the county minor team beat a highly fancied Mayo team by 2-10 to 0-8 in the curtain-raiser, with Des Foley showcasing his talents for the Dubs cubs.

The senior match was less straightforward as Derry made light of their underdog status to push Dublin all the way, but their challenge petered out by the concession of a vital goal from Paddy Farnan in the second-half.

At that stage, inspired by the majestic Jim McKeever at midfield, Derry had restored parity thanks to a dominant start to the second half and there appeared little danger as Des Ferguson delivered an innocuous looking ball from deep.

However, a fatal slip from full-back Tom Doherty was seized upon by Farnan and his emphatic finish beyond Patsy Gormley helped settle whatever doubts Dublin had up to that point.

New 1958 final 2.jpg

The Dubs managed to pull away in the concluding quarter as the Derry challenge faded, with Ollie Freaney kicking seven points in total from frees and one from play to augment three points from play by Kevin Heffernan while players including Jim Crowley, Joe Timmons, goalkeeper Paddy O'Flaherty and wing-forward Padraig Haughey excelled.

It mattered little as Dublin secured their 16th All-Ireland SFC title and one that meant more than any other, given the home-grown make-up of the panel, with Heffernan enjoying the honour of lifting the coveted Sam Maguire.

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