1. Maurice Fitzgerald (1997)
Few finals are as readily identified with a player as Kerry v Mayo in 1997.
Kerry won by 0-13 to 1-7, on a day when Fitzgerald scored 0-9 (0-6 from frees, 0-3 from play).
Contributing almost 70pc of a team’s total in an All-Ireland final was some achievement but then that’s the level Fitzgerald was operating in at that time.
Many of the post-match ratings had him on 10 out of 10 and, unsurprisingly, he was later named as Footballer of the Year.
2. Seán Cavanagh (2008)
He had been consistently good throughout the campaign, but chose the final against Kerry to give a truly exceptional performance.
He scored 0-5, all from play, on a day when Kerry just couldn’t quite figure out a way of curbing him. His ability to accelerate with awesome power from a standing position made him virtually unmarkable.
“Some of Cavanagh’s scores matched those of the greatest forwards we have seen in Croke Park,” wrote Eugene McGee in the Irish Independent.
3. Pat Spillane (1978)
‘Bomber’ Liston scored 3-2 from play and Mikey Sheehy poached the cheekiest goal in All-Ireland final history as Kerry recovered from a poor start to overwhelm treble-seekers, Dublin (5-11 to 0-9).
Liston and Sheehy made huge contributions but Pat Spillane was man of the match after producing another of the high-energy performances, which typified his entire career.
His powerful running took him all over the pitch and presented Dublin with a problem they never came close to fixing. It was one of many that flummoxed them.
4. Pádraic Joyce (2001)
He scored 0-10 (five each from play and frees) of Galway’s 0-17 as they overpowered Meath in a nine-point win. Level at half-time, Galway, who were outsiders, won the second half 0-11 to 0-2 with Joyce leading the scoring charge.
He scored five points from play in the second half, an astonishing feat against a Meath full-back line, comprised of Mark O’Reilly, Darren Fay and Cormac Murphy, the trio who had restricted Kerry’s Mike Frank Russell, Dara Ó Cinnéide and John Crowley to 0-2 from play in the semi-final.
5. Bernard Brogan (2013)
He scored 2-3 (2-2 from play, 0-1 from a free which he earned) of Dublin’s 2-12 in their two-point win over Mayo.
He beat Ger Cafferkey and goalkeeper Robert Hennelly to the punch to score the first goal while intelligent positioning, an art that doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, enabled him to flick home the second goal.
The timing of both goals was crucial in shaping the game. Mayo were leading by three points when he pounced for his first goal in the 16th minute while the sides were level when he scored the second at the three-quarter stage.