All-Ireland final: History beckons as Dublin go for five-in-a-row

  • Published
Sam Maguire CupImage source, Sportsfile for GAA
Image caption,
The Sam Maguire Cup is presented to the winners of the All-Ireland final

Croke Park will host one of the biggest sporting showpieces in Europe on Sunday as Dublin take on Kerry in the All-Ireland Gaelic football final.

The occasion has even higher stakes, as Dublin aim to create history by claiming the "holy grail" of five consecutive senior titles.

Ahead of the final, we reflect on some of the interesting elements that have contributed to the history of the competition.

'The drive for five'

When Dublin defeated Tyrone in last year's final, they joined the small selection of teams to win four All-Ireland championships in a row.

Their opponents on Sunday, Kerry, know all about the eternal quest for the fantastic five, having twice missed out on the unique achievement.

The Kingdom clinched four successive titles between 1929 and 1932, and matched that feat from 1978 to 1981.

A last-minute goal from Offaly's Séamus Darby in the 1982 final soured Kerry's dreams as they lost by one point.

Wexford are the other team to have claimed four consecutive All-Ireland crowns, between 1914 and 1918.

Kerry have the most All-Ireland trophy wins with 37, Dublin are next on 28, followed by Galway with nine.

The biggest winning margin was in the 1911 final, when Cork defeated Antrim by 19 points.

Image source, Sportsfile for GAA
Image caption,
David Byrne of Dublin has his eyes on the main prize

History of the Sam Maguire

The Sam Maguire Cup is presented to the winners of the All-Ireland final.

Sam Maguire was a Protestant from Dunmanway in west Cork, who later moved to London and captained London Hibernians in three All-Ireland finals, which they lost.

He was close friends with Michael Collins who led the IRA during the War of Independence, and is reported to have sworn him into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).

Maguire was a key agent in London for Collins' intelligence network, and was also involved in arms smuggling to Ireland, for which he was eventually jailed.

He later returned to Ireland and worked in the newly established Irish Civil Service.

Following his death in 1927, Maguire's friends raised funds for the purchase of the cup, which was fashioned to the design of the Ardagh Chalice.

The Ardagh Chalice is a renowned religious treasure believed to date from the 8th Century, which was found in the 19th Century by a man digging for potatoes near Ardagh, County Limerick.

A replica of the trophy was created in 1988 and replaced the original for presenting to the winning team.

Image source, Sportsfile for GAA
Image caption,
Jason Foley of Kerry who are aiming to thwart five-in-a-row

Trophy goes missing in New York

The Sam Maguire has proved elusive for some counties to capture, but it has also gone missing on a few occasions.

Former Irish Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan revealed the FBI helped recover the cup when it was taken from a safe in the US in 1981.

Mr Deenihan, who won five All-Ireland medals, was asked to bring the trophy to New York to have it photographed with the World Series baseball trophy and American football's Super Bowl prize.

He said the Sam Maguire was eventually returned to a bar "wrapped in a black plastic refuse bag".

Incidentally, the only time the All-Ireland final was played outside of Ireland was in New York in 1947, at the city's Polo Grounds.

Cavan beat Kerry to claim the trophy. The Cavan team travelled to the US by air, a quicker journey than the Kerry squad who travelled by Ocean Liner.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Kevin Moran and various Manchester United players surround referee Peter Willis during the 1985 FA Cup final

Moran's moment of madness

Kevin Moran proved he was a pioneer after he collected two All-Ireland medals with Dublin, before switching sports to football and winning the FA Cup twice with Manchester United.

Moran claimed the Sam Maguire with Dublin in 1976 and 1977.

He was then in the Manchester United team that beat Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1983 final, but two years later ended up in the record books for the wrong reasons.

The defender was the first person to be sent off in an FA Cup final when he was given his marching orders for a foul on Everton's Peter Reid at Wembley, but United went on to win thanks to an extra-time goal from Northern Ireland international Norman Whiteside.

Moran also represented the Republic of Ireland at the World Cup finals.

Still making history

The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) has said it expects Sunday's final to be a sell-out at Croke Park, which has a capacity of just over 82,000.

The highest recorded attendance at the final was in 1961 when Down triumphed over Offaly, which was witnessed by about 90,500 spectators.

History is never far away from the event, and whether Dublin seal five-in-a-row or not on Sunday, another significant milestone will be reached.

David Gough, a teacher from Meath, will be the first openly gay referee to take charge of the final.