One of the greatest displays of Gaelic Football we have been privileged to see

September 2nd, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

So where to begin? Whenever asked I would always reply that the greatest game of football I had ever seen was the Munster final re-play and extra time in 1976, which coincided with the opening of Pairc Ui Chaoimh. The 1955 All Ireland final, my first, when Kerry beat the so called unbeatable Dublin machine also remains etched in the memory while last years All Ireland semi final despite defeat to Dublin in addition ranks as unforgettable.  However all those pale into insignificants when compared with last Saturdays truly epic re-play and extra time victory over a truly great Mayo team. This was one of the greatest ever displays of Gaelic football, in my opinion, we have ever been privileged to see.  And let's not forget and this raises it up to even greater heights, the drawn game in Croke Park the previous Sunday was also a contest for the ages, unforgettable, so over one hundred minutes of compelling viewing.

And at the end of that unforgettable Saturday when the smoke had cleared it was Kerry who stood victorious, yet another massive milestone in the glorious history of a county steeped in celebrated deeds on the field of play.  But like the Roman Gladiators of old the Mayo men were carried out on their shields having left ever last ounce of their being, blood, sweat and afterwards tears on the Limerick pitch. Little comfort to that exemplary gentleman James Horan their manager that they had contributed to a truly magnificent glorious sporting occasion. They deserve their day in the sun, and hopefully that day will soon come to their beleaguered players and supporters.

Indeed all the pent up that passion spilled over and it's very understandable really when one of their supporters charged on to the field near the end of the game, four stewards tackled him, his daughter was also on hand to help drag him off. It summed up for me all the fervor, obsession and life time dedication a follower of their beloved county can engender. And this goes for Kerry and Mayo. Words and characters from John B Keane's superb play The Field I heard being shouted out by a supporter, "it's your field Bull, it's your field. field". Mighty stuff to set the pulse racing.  Only the GAA could engender such feelings and total honesty as one man exposed himself in such a way to the thousands present and at home watching on the box.  

So Mayo have failed once again despite their total commitment and years of preparation, but why? Answer, because they met a Kerry side who despite still being in part transition were superbly prepared by Eamon Fitzmaurice their manager, expertly trained to the peak of fitness by Cian o Neill and motivated in many ways by All Ireland medal holders, selectors Mickey Sheehy and Diarmuid Murphy. I have constantly beaten this drum here that the Kerry side line is and always has been a trump card in all our All Ireland successes, at all levels. What other county can call on such a reservoir of deep knowledge and experience all of which is gained in the white heat of battle as these men won their medals with their county. And now they are passing it on to the next generation

It was never more evident once again than last Saturday, the experience, calmness and ice cold steely determination displayed by the men in charge has been passed on to this whole squad and when the fat was well and truly in the fire in Limerick and all those around were totally engrossed in the battle all these traits came shinning through as the extra time was played. While Mayo were all action, all go, all movement, Kerry were more precise and accurate in what they did. Comfortable and hugely confident while in possession we saw Paul Geaney despite having been substituted come back on, work himself into position and kick a sublime point.  My own club man Jonathan Lyne following a long absence from action raised two superb white flags, both kicked while he was on the run, another display of exceptional Kerry skill. Coming from that deep well of Kerry football heritage, "the Lynes of Cleeney" Jonathan showed in the white heat of battle exceptional courage and character to even attempt what he achieved. Both his interduction and that of Pa Kilkenny and indeed the more experienced but youthful Barry John Keane showed the tremendous faith the manager had in these young men. Not afraid to make the big calls Fitzmaurice also showed his ruthless side when he omitted one of Kerrys greatest servants Mark o Se. Now this could not have been an easy decision for the Finuge man and his partners and indeed when Marc he came on for Shane Enright he really steadied the ship when coolness and experienced was so badly needed at the back.

But it was at mid field that the foundations for this latest amazing victory was well and truly laid. Anthony Maher and David Moran ruled the air ways, they completely dominated, both men catching some great ball, they were superb following in the footsteps of all those legendary Kerry mid fielders who have gone before them.  And without their domination the twin striking force of Kieran Donaghy and James o Donoghue would not have received the amount of possession they enjoyed. It's really great to see Star back to his brilliant best and his glorious fielding in both games is a joy to behold. James continues to light up our summer with his dazzling play, now with Star along side him he poses even more danger.

Peter Crowley, Killian young, Paul Murphy , Donnacha Walsh and captain Fionn Fitzgerald until his black card were immense literally laying  their safety on the line and I have never seen such a collision as when Mark Griffin and the mighty Aidan o Shea collided head on, the Kerryman stopped his opponents literally in his tracks, another proverbial marker laid down.  Brian Kelly will learn from his fielding error that it might be a better option to punch clear rather than attempt to field in the danger area.

And so a multitude of memories. Donnacha been thrown over the barrier on the side line, Aidan o Mahony throwing himself on and winning a ball which was not his, getting injured in the process, life on the line as the say for the cause. Killian Young and James o Donoghue limping off before extra time, Shane Enright's storming run up field in front of the stand. Robert Hennelly's last minute free to win the game for Mayo hanging agonizingly in the air, just failing to reach its target. James o Donoghue taking a swig from Hennelly's bottle of water before he slotted home his second penalty. And finally the Kerry hoards pouring on to claim the field following the final whistle. It was all a blur so momentous was the occasion and Kerry as always being part of history.  All involved are a credit to their county.

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