It was a summer filled with shocks, drama and unrivalled skill and as the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the highlights of the GAA season 2018.
With new systems in place in both hurling and Gaelic Football, we were treated to one of the best GAA seasons in recent times as Limerick and Dublin took home the coveted titles of All Ireland champions. The undisputed highlight of the season was the quality of scores and we have selected our favourites from both codes.
1. Peter Duggan v Galway
When Henry Shefflin labels your point as “unbelievable”, you know you’ve done something right. If Clare and Galway’s epic battle was the best hurling match of the championship, then this is the score of the championship by far.
Clare were nine points down in this semi-final at one stage but their tenacity, determination and ability saw them claw their way right back into contention. And all of those were on display when Peter Duggan sent over this wonder point to level the game once again.
His ability from placed balls is well known but this score proved his worth as an all-round attacker. He dodged four tackles, balancing the ball on his hurley during that, before volleying it over the bar. Duggan later described it as more of a freak accident that would go wrong more often than not, but it made all the difference for Clare on the day.
"A truly astonishing score" – Peter Duggan hits a spectacular point as Clare try their best to stay in the game.
Watch highlights on The Sunday Game at 9:30pm on RTE 2 tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/yjLgwIbeZ2
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 28, 2018
2. Tom Morrissey v Kilkenny
If there is something every hurling follower in Ireland knows, it’s that Kilkenny are never beaten until the final whistle has blown. That fact must have been racing through the minds of Limerick fans as they watched Kilkenny stage a wonderful comeback, complete with a goal from Richie Hogan in the 65th minute to put the Cats two points up.
It’s at a time like that when teams need leaders and Limerick were littered with them. From the puck out after the goal, Tom Morrissey caught the ball and stuck it straight over the bar for an instant response but it was his next point that received all the plaudits.
He collected the sliotar inside his own half before soloing up the field, ignoring the challenge of James Maher, and scored his fourth point from play, a point that put Limerick one point ahead in additional time.
3. Conor McManus v Tyrone
GAA commentators have long since ran out of superlatives to describe Conor McManus but if you ever needed a reminder of just how talented his is, look no further than his incredible point against Tyrone in the Ulster championship this summer.
It was a game that Monaghan never looked like losing and when Tyrone’s talisman, Peter Harte, received a straight red late on, it looked like it was game over in the provincial championship for the title holders. Monaghan hit a number of points to open up a five point gap, including this beautiful effort from McManus from the sideline.
Tyrone did hit back with a late goal from Michael McKernan but the gap was too wide and Monaghan had done just enough to earn themselves a deserved win over the reigning Ulster champions.
What a point! Watch this class score from Conor McManus! pic.twitter.com/UopRcS9Y9e
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 20, 2018
4. David Clifford v Monaghan
Almost four minutes of the additional five had been played when James O’Donoghue desperately launched a ball into the Monaghan square. Trailing by a goal, Kerry needed at least a draw if they were to retain any hope of qualifying from the Super 8s.
Up to that point, Rory Beggan had little trouble but when the Kingdom found the perfect blend of youth and experience, there was no stopping the county who found themselves in sheer desperation. The delivery was gathered by Kieran Donaghy who expertly fed David Clifford, and the youngster showed all his class and sublime talent to angle it into the corner of Beggan’s net.
Kerry snatched the draw to survive another week in the competition but it wasn’t enough to see them qualify. However, the goal was the highlight of Clifford’s showreel as he went on to be crowned the Young Footballer of the Year at the All Star awards in October.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 22, 2018
5. TJ Reid v Galway
There is never much that separates Kilkenny and Galway when the two kings of the Leinster championship meet, and although neither could pull away from the other in this year’s drawn provincial final, it was hardly a game for the ages.
After a desperately poor first half in which both sides register a number of poor hits and handling errors, the Cats led by a point at half-time. The teams drew level four more times in the second but Galway eventually hit a mini purple patch and stole ahead.
However, Kilkenny had a saviour and just as he did during many other games, TJ Reid dragged them back into contention, just in the nick of time. His monster point from within his own half to level the game, with only minutes remaining, was the highlight of an otherwise stale encounter.
TJ Reid draws the match with a monster point! pic.twitter.com/dpf1FGOPFl
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 1, 2018