In the first of a weekly column from Pundit Arena’s Michael Corry, Corry’s Corner dispels the myth that this Dublin side are better than the Kerry four-in-a-row of 1978-81.
It’s funny how one moment can change the course of history. What if Marshawn Lynch had run the ball in 2014? What if Ali had gone to Vietnam in 1967? What if Seamus Darby hadn’t scored THAT goal in 1982?
While Darby’s goal made him a cult-hero in GAA circles, it made mere mortals out of Pat Spillane, Mikey Sheehy, Jack O’Shea et al. The five-in-a-row looked an inevitability from September 1981 until the 70th minute of the 1982 All-Ireland final.
The same can be said for Dublin after their win over Tyrone in last year’s final. The party line is that nobody else stands a chance!
Nearly 40 years on and Kerry’s slip in ’82 remains a huge part of GAA folklore.
However, it takes on new meaning in 2019. It tells us that all is not lost, that the 2019 championship isn’t over before it started and that Dublin are not guaranteed five-in-a-row.
Why? Because, In terms of pure football, no team has ever come close to Mick O’Dwyer’s Kerry side, not even this Dublin team.
The Kerry four-in-a-row team were a better outfit than the current Dublin side and the scoring statistics of those All-Ireland finals prove it.
Kerry’s Winning Run
The first of Kerry’s four came in 1978 when they overcame a Dublin side chasing three consecutive Sam Maguire titles. By this stage, the Dublin/Kerry rivalry had reached fever-pitch following classic encounters in both 1976 and 1977. Dublin seemed to have the upper hand, but it was this game that changed the course of Kerry’s history as they rang out comprehensive winners on a scoreline of 5-11 to 0-9. A whopping 17 points.
The following year the same two teams were back again for the fifth meeting in five years. It was on this day that Micko’s men brought the curtain down on the rivalry when they put Dublin to the sword again on a scoreline of 3-13 to 1-8, an eleven-point margin.
The eighties saw the emergence of other counties coming to the fore to rival what was fast becoming a Kerry dynasty. Offaly toppled Dublin in Leinster before falling to Kerry by five points in an eight-goal semi-final classic, while Roscommon overcame Armagh to reach only their fifth ever final.
On a scrappy day in Croke Park that saw 64 free-kicks, Kerry came out victorious on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-6 to complete the three-in-a-row.
Offaly finally emerged from the pack in 1981 to reach an All-Ireland decider. The 1-12 to 0-8 scoreline shows a seven-point victory for Kerry, but the game was very much ‘nip and tuck’ until Jack O’Shea scored one of the most iconic goals in GAA history to send Kerry fans into raptures.
Overall, Kerry won four All-Irelands in a row on a scoreline of 10-45 to 2-31, a 38-point winning margin.
The first of Dublin’s four All Ireland’s in a row was a meeting with old rivals, Kerry, that pitted the 2013 champions (Dublin) against the 2014 champions (Kerry) for the right to become the 2015 champions.
On a cold, wet and downright miserable day in Croke Park, the conditions seemed to suit the Dubs more as they ran out three-point winners on a scoreline of 0-12 to 0-9.
Mayo proved to be the opposition in 2016 and had it not been for two own goals, they would have claimed their first All-Ireland since 1951. However, in the end, it took a last-second Cillian O’Connor point to salvage a draw.
The replay is now famous for Stephen Rochford’s decision to drop goalkeeper, David Clarke, in favour of Rob Hennelly who went on to concede a penalty and receive a black card as Dublin stumbled over the line for a one-point victory (1-15 to 1-14).
Rochford’s Mayo returned in 2017, hell-bent on redemption. It was a game for the ages, but the same result ensued. Lee Keegan’s second-half goal looked like the catalyst for a Mayo victory, however, Dublin were able to rally in the final ten minutes with James McCarthy proving influential in securing a three-in-a-row.
Tyrone stood in the way of four-in-a-row and for the first 17 minutes looked like the could threaten Jim Gavin’s side, however, it wasn’t meant to be as goals from Paul Mannion and Niall Scully put Tyrone’s challenge to bed by half-time.
Dublin have played in five All-Ireland finals throughout this winning run (one more than Kerry) scoring 6-70 while conceding 3-68. An 11-point margin.
Dublin are a freak of nature, that much is true, but they are machine-like.
What stands out from Dublin’s four-in-a-row? Without being disrespectful to their achievements, which are obviously great, but own goals and GPS trackers spring to mind more than moments of footballing brilliance.
The Kerry side from 78-81 was pure footballing gold and if you need any proof of this just visit the GAA archives.
Check out Eoin ‘The Bomber’ Liston’s second goal in the ’78 final, a display of high-fielding, slick passing and deadly finishing that is seldom seen in today’s game.
Or Mikey Sheehy’s inventiveness to dink the ball over Paddy Cullen’s head when many wouldn’t have entertained such a thought.
Maybe have a look at Jack O’Shea’s wonder-goal in the ’81 decider, the greatest team goal in GAA history matched by an equally great finish.
The fact that this team, the greatest ever, couldn’t complete the five-in-a-row should fill teams with the hope that this year, Dublin can be stopped in their tracks.