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Joe Frazier v Muhammad Ali. The Red Sox v The Yankees. Manchester United v Liverpool. Dublin v Kerry. There are some rivalries down through the years which just capture the imagination of everybody. In Ireland, that rivalry is Dublin v Kerry. The 38 times All-Ireland champions in Kerry. The 30 times All-Ireland champions in Dublin – our 6 in a row heroes. This is a rivalry for the ages. And games between these two giants never disappoint.

Dublin Kerry

(Image: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)


The Match

Yesterday, on the 30th July, these two teams donned the hallowed turf of Croke Park to renew their rivalry in the All-Ireland Final. Both captains hoping to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the Sam Maguire Cup. These games are the pinnacle for GAA players in Ireland. When you’re growing up here, it is your dream to represent your county. Only about 2% of adult players get the opportunity to do so. And of that figure, very few get the ultimate honour of representing their county in the final. By doing so, you are a role model, a hero, a celebrity in your local community.

At 3:30 yesterday, David Gough threw the ball in. The ground shook. 82,500 people roared. Game on. In the first half, it was nip and tuck. Dublin had a lot of possession, they were clinical in their execution and shooting. But then just before half-time, David Clifford got the ball in the corner in space. A collective deep breath from the Dublin fans – ‘oh no’. For those that don’t know the Kerry man, Clifford is like a young Lionel Messi. Left-footed, athletic and borderline unstoppable. When he gets the ball, usually good things happen. And this time, he gave a pinpoint delivery into the box for a Kerry goal which put them ahead by a point at half-time.

Second Half

The second half started unlike the first half. Kerry started to pull away. Popping over a few easy points and looking like they’ll be hard to stop once they get the ball into their attack. Then came (probably) the defining moment in the game. Gavin White, the Kerry half-back, misplaced a pass which was intercepted by Colm Basquel and Paddy Small finished the ball into the back of the net, admittedly with the help of the Kerry defender who deflected the shot away from the keeper. Draw game. From there on in, it was nip and tuck – no team willing to give an inch. Until Kerry, admittedly tiring, started to give an inch to the likes of Brian Fenton and Paul Mannion who guided Dublin towards a late lead.

Yet, at 73 minutes, there were no nails left. Draw game. 3 more minutes of injury time to be played. Voices in the crowd now hoarse from all the shouting. Some shouts at their own players, some at the opposition and some at the crowd around them. All in (mostly) good spirit! After approximately 11-12 kilometres of hard running from the players over the course of the 73 minutes, tired bodies started to cramp up. In that last 3 minutes, Dublin made better decisions, scored 2 more points and came away with the most coveted prize of all – an All-Ireland medal. And luckily they did, as Dean Rock’s wedding would have been on the same day as the replay if the game finished a draw. That would have been an interesting conversation.


And with that, Dublin were crowned the All-Ireland champions for the 30th time. Remarkably, James McCarthy, Stephen Cluxton and Michael Fitzsimons won their 9th All-Ireland title. With this feat, they made history. They’re our Tom Bradys, our Michael Jordans, our Lionel Messis. Some of the greatest players to ever lace up their boots. Will we see them on the pitch again? We hope so.

Paul O Dea

Author Paul O Dea

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