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The swinging Sixties - How the Dubs beat the odds to reclaim Sam after Heffo's retirement

Decades of the Dubs - The 50s/60s: A shaky start to '63 was overcome as Dublin lifted their 17th title

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The 1963 All-Ireland winning Dublin team

The 1963 All-Ireland winning Dublin team

The 1963 All-Ireland winning Dublin team

Dublin followed up their All-Ireland success in 1958 with Leinster titles in 1959 and 1962 but they failed to add to their 16 All-Ireland titles until 1963, as they came through a tough provincial campaign before edging Galway by two points in the decider.

Their league form offered few clues to future success as they shipped heavy defeats to Galway (2-12 to 0-7) and Offaly (3-7 to 0-3) - and the start of their Leinster Championship campaign didn't inspire too much confidence either.

Kevin Heffernan's retirement after Dublin's truncated National League campaign was another negative in terms of their preparations, given the leadership that he offered both on and off the field.

The Dubs started off by facing a strong Meath team in Croke Park and they looked in serious trouble as they trailed by 2-5 to 1-1 at the interval.

However, the redeployment of Lar Foley from corner-back to full-forward made the world of difference to Dublin's attack as he scored two points in addition to contributing to goals by John Timmons and Mickey Whelan.

It was fitting that Des Foley should have the final word as he capped off a superb display at midfield to kick the winning point in Dublin's 2-6 to 2-5 victory.

The general unease after that display prompted the return of Des Ferguson to the starting line-up - and he didn't disappoint as he chipped in with 1-2 in Dublin's five-point win over Kildare in the provincial semi-final.

Like last year, Dublin faced Laois in the Leinster SFC final as they won more comfortably than the 2-11 to 2-9 scoreline would suggest.

Mickey Whelan was to prove Dublin's match-winner on this occasion. He tallied 0-6 as he drove his team forward relentlessly in the second half as the Dubs gave themselves breathing room thanks to goals from Brian McDonald and Gerry Davey.


The momentum generated from that victory was maintained for their All-Ireland semi-final against Down, a team that had tasted All-Ireland glory in 1960 and 1961.

A tight encounter was anticipated but Dublin's control of matters never relinquished as they eased home by 2-11 to 0-7 in a contest that was unedifying as a spectacle due to constant fouling.

Brian McDonald netted twice for the dominant Dubs, who were indebted to the wonderful defensive play of Paddy Holden, Mick Kissane and Des McKane as they curbed the potential influence of Down's key attackers in Jim McCartan, Paddy Doherty and Seán O'Neill.

Bizarrely, Dublin played two matches of a competitive nature prior to the All-Ireland decider as they defeated Carlow in the John Player Cup final before overcoming Louth in the St Maur's tournament at the end of August.

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Des Foley leads out the Dubs in the 1963 final

Des Foley leads out the Dubs in the 1963 final

Des Foley leads out the Dubs in the 1963 final

Those matches proved decent preparation for their All-Ireland showdown with a Galway side that was laying the foundations for their wonderful three-in-a-row team of the mid-60s.

In a contest that was marred by Eamon Moules' (Wicklow) whistle, with Galway receiving 33 frees to Dublin's 19, it was the ability of Dublin to avail of the limited chances that came their way that ultimately proved the difference between the sides, with Leo Hickey putting in a towering display in the Dublin rearguard.

Galway recorded 12 wides over the duration, which contrasted hugely with Dublin's tally of just four as the Connacht champions failed to avail of the platform provided at midfield by Mick Garrett and Mick Reynolds.

Trailing by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break, Dublin moved Mickey Whelan to midfield and after he and McDonald had levelled matters in the early stages of the second-half, they struck the decisive blow as Davey fisted home from McDonald's sideline ball, while Galway had a claims for a late, late penalty ignored.

John Timmons kicked two late points to ensure a landmark success as Des Foley made history in becoming the first man to captain Dublin to minor and senior All-Ireland titles.

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Dublin captain Des Foley is presented with the Sam Maguire by Eamon de Valera

Dublin captain Des Foley is presented with the Sam Maguire by Eamon de Valera

Dublin captain Des Foley is presented with the Sam Maguire by Eamon de Valera

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