It started with the return of Down’s prodigal son and ended with another piece of history for Dublin’s favourite son.
The 2010s will be looked back upon with mixed emotions when it comes to Gaelic football.
Dublin’s dominance, as impressive as it is, has been shrouded in controversy due to claims of financial doping while Jim McGuinness was branded the black death as Donegal once again became a force to be reckoned with.
However, amidst all the negative press and claims of boredom, there were a number of bizarre moments that will live long in the memory, for good and bad reasons.
Here is a collection of some of those moments. Let us know any others that spring to mind.
Heartbreak for the Wee County
It was Louth who endeared themselves to the nation in 2010 when qualifying for a first provincial final in 50 years. Meath were the opponents after rattling five goals past Dublin in their only Leinster defeat this decade and were heavy favourites to defeat the Wee County.
A famous win looked on the cards when JP Rooney brilliantly buried the ball in the top corner with seven minutes remaining to put Louth a goal ahead. However, the game ended in the most dramatic of daylight robberies as Meath were awarded a goal with the final action of the game after Joe Sheridan threw the ball over the line. Chaos ensured following it. Louth should have got the replay, without a doubt.
Watch the final moments and the Sunday Game panel’s reaction below.
Mayo fan invades the pitch
The Mayo/Kerry rivalry provided some of the most memorable game’s of the past ten seasons but none stands out more than their dramatic All-Ireland semi-final in 2014. The Gaelic Grounds in Limerick played host to a thrilling encounter that saw the Kingdom prevail on a 3-16 to 3-13 win after extra-time.
Towards the end of the game, Mayo fan Mick Barrett managed to invade the pitch and confront referee Cormac Reilly while his daughter attempted to restrain him.
Again, chaos ensued as stewards tried to remove the passionate fan from the pitch. The incident has since gone down in folklore and the Mayo fan, who was subsequently suspended for one year form all GAA activity, was given a heroes welcome en route home from Limerick that day.
Will he, won’t he… The Diarmuid Connolly saga.
Diarmuid Connolly is far and away the most discussed footballer in Ireland. After getting himself into trouble following a confrontation with a linesman in 2017, the St. Vincent’s man was handed a 12-week ban that saw him miss the majority of Dublin’s three-in-a-row clinching campaign.
He would see game time just once in 2018 before departing for America thus missing out on Dublin’s continued success. After months and months of speculation surrounding his Dublin future, it looked as though we’d seen the last of Connolly when he opted to spend another summer in the states. However, a last-minute ESTA issue saw Connolly denied entry to Boston.
This paved the way for a sensational Diarmuid Connolly comeback midway through the season. The mercurial talent would go on to play his role in Dublin’s history-making five-in-a-row win. The decision came as a shock, especially due to the timing of it. It was also the most un-Jim-Gavin-like decision you are ever likely to see.
Double own goal enough to make anyone believe in a curse
They say there is a curse in Mayo. Difficult to believe, of course, but even the most hardened of sceptics may have been swayed following the most bizarre of All-Ireland finals in 2016.
Dublin would eventually secure back-to-back titles following a replay but it’s the drawn match that stands out due to the manner in which Mayo let it slip.
They played all the football against Dublin but could only manage a draw. To make matters worse, up until 2016 no team had scored an own goal in an All-Ireland final. Mayo managed to score two in the one half.
Of course, there were so many more sagas and controversies that gripped the GAA world over the last decade. Joe Brolly provided many flashpoints but none quite as memorable as the time he questioned Sean Cavanagh’s manhood. The former Derry star was also on the receiving end of jibes with Kieran Donaghy’s ‘Well Joe Brolly, what do you think of that?’ speech since becoming an iconic moment.
Out west, there were player revolts in both Mayo and Galway that saw managers removed from their positions while the GAA created a saga of their own last year with the ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ scandal.
Speaking of Kildare, the Lilywhites were the architects of their own downfall in 2012 when footage emerged of Cavan’s Seanie Johnston playing 30 seconds of club hurling in order to qualify for a transfer. A horrible look for all parties involved.
Overall there was no shortage of shocks, scandals, bizarre incidents and memorable moments over what was an intriguing ten-year cycle for Gaelic football. Which one stands out the most?