A unique account of the 1931 All Ireland Final

by Weeshie Fogarty

Kerry's Route to the Final

Munster Final  Kerry 5-8 Tipperary 0-2
Semi Final       Kerry 1-6 Mayo 1-4

The Teams were

                                        D. O'Keefe

D. O'Connor                 J. Barrett                        J. Walsh
P Doyle                           D. Burke                          H Burke

P. Russell                      J. Sullivan                        T. Landers
P. Byrne                         P. Martin                           J. Maguire

                          Con Brosnan  (capt)       R. Stack
                          P. Loughlin                       P. Waters

J. J. Landers                 M. Doyle                         E. Fitzgerald
W. Hynan                       J. Higgins                        P. Miles

J. Ryan                          P. Whitty                         M. Regan
F. Malone                      M. Goff                             J. Meaney

                                      M Walsh

Match Report from The Kerryman Saturday Oct 3rd 1931

Kerry Win All Ireland Football Final - Strategy and Stamina Triumph

Kerry won their third consecutive All-Ireland on Sunday last at Croke Park, after a tremendous struggle with Kildare. The day was perfect for football, devoid of sun or wind, while the recent spell of summer like weather had the ground in good condition.

The excursion trains which started from Listowel at mid-day on Saturday collected a large gathering of enthusiasts from Tralee and intermediate stations. Another big contingent travelled by mail, these latter including persons from such outlying districts as Dunquin, Ballyferiter, Ballinskellings and Portmagee.

The Sunday trains carried further thousands from all parts of the county. Some uneasiness was felt on arrival in Dublin when it was learned that Tim O'Donnell, Kerry's capable half-back, would be unable to play. His injured leg refused to stand on the strain of a trial the previous Thursday. A meeting of the Kerry Selection Committee was held on Saturday night when the Kerry team was decided on.

The selection shows two changes from the original selection with three positional alterations. O' Keefe replaced Riordan in goal, and M. Regan came on as left forward. Kildare lined out as originally selected.

Opinion in Dublin generally favoured a Kerry victory. Many however, believed that the absence of Sheehy, Sweeney and O'Donnell spelled disaster for the Kingdom.

Kildare had their usual large enthusiastic following, who swore by the Lily Whites. There was great confidence in the Kerry camp.

It was evident on Sunday that a huge crowd had assembled for the game. From an early hour thousands wearing the green and gold of Kerry or the lily white ribbon paraded the streets. About noon fans began to wend their way toward Croke Park. At the forty-five turnstiles were clicking merrily, and the National Stadium was soon filled. It caused a little surprise when the official attendance was given at 42,000 and the receipts £3,863. These fall only slightly below the record figures of 1929.

Croke Park represented a heartening appearance. The sward looked resplendent in the dull autumnal sun, while the four sides, stands, embankments and side lines were lined, amphitheatres-like, with a mass of swaying, surging humanity, drawn from all parts of Ireland. Seventy-five special trains, innumerable buses, motor cars, and all classes of conveyance had brought them to the venue, attracted by the magnetism of a Kerry-Kildare final.

The crowd were not disappointed for the two K's served up an exhibition of the code worthy of great traditions. 

The O'Toole Pipers Band and later the Artane Brass Band discoursed suitable selections. Kilkenny and Galway hurling minors whiled away a pleasant hour. There was much enthusiasm when the Artane Band paraded round the pitch to the strains of Easter Week. The O'Toole Pipers played the teams to the centre, and the National Anthem was played Most Rev. Dr. Cullen, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, threw in the ball.

It was a remarkable game in many respects. Kildare gave a dazzling display in the opening half and were more superior than the scores indicate. Their front forward line showed much speed and accuracy and had Kerry defending desperately most of the time. In centre-field Kildare were definitely on top, when the half-time whistle went Kerry followers were very anxious.

The Kingdom resumed with changed forward placings. P. Whitty came out to the left wing and J. Ryan moved in as full. Eamonn Fitzgerald went as right forward to mark Frank Malone. Brosnan and Stack exchanged places. These changes had an extraordinary effect on the ultimate result. Kildare's superiority at midfield disappeared, Whitty found his feet outside, while Ryan got the better of Goff. Players who appeared lost and listless warmed to their work and in response to shouts of their followers the Kingdom began to attack.

For a time Goff and his colleagues stood valiantly against this bewildering onslaught. Whitty with a wonderful kick from 50 yards out, sent over the equalising point. Kildare were then a beaten team. They came away in an occasional sporadic burst, but their efforts were short-lived. The backs began to miskick, and Walsh's blunder in goal was the culminating event. Kildare's lead of three points was turned into a deficit of six. The team which led by three points in the opening half and missed as many more were only able to raise a single flag. Croke Park has never seen a more wonderful rally than that staged by the Kingdom to secure their third consecutive All-Ireland.


Kildare broke away on the throw in but T. Landers sent them back. Kildare had a free and a long kick by Higgins landed in the goal mouth. Connor clearing was awarded a free by a very strict referee. Loughlin punted in Barrett and Walsh combined to clear. Martin receiving sent in a great ball. Walsh stopped this, but the Kildare men swarmed in, and Bourke, from an angle drove over an accurate point after five minute's play.

Kerry got under the kick-out, and Stack was fouled. Landers got the free and he passed to Doyle, who dropped clear over the bar, for the equaliser from about 40 yards out. A free to Kildare at mid-field was sent well in by Higgins, but Barrett held safely and drove out strongly to Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald punted in a long ball. Goff fielded and sent along the wing. Russell sprinted in and drove wide from far out. The referee whistled for the smallest infringement and frees to both sides left play at centre-field. A long free by Higgins was secured by Martin. He hand-passed to Byrne who narrowly missed the uprights. Kerry worked along the wing, and Ryan got possession near the corner. He tried to score but the ball went wide. Russell held the kick-out; he parted to J. J. Landers, who gave to Regan in good ground. He was fouled about 14 yards out, and found the free. Ryan gave Kerry the lead after 12 minutes' play.

Play continued at a fast pace. Kildare came with the kick-out. Paul Doyle, moving in, was fouled. He took the free, and levelled the scores. The All Whites were playing with great vim. They hand-passed through the Kerry defence and P. Doyle had a free about 20 yards out. He kicked too low, and Sullivan cleared. Kildare had another free at midfield. Higgins long kick reached Byrne, who sent wide by inches.

Miles drove a return to touch. J. J. Landers got the throw-in. He transferred to M. Doyle, whose long-range effort was wide of the mark. Soon after Ryan, receiving from Russell, again sent over. Two frees came to Kildare. From the second inside the "50," Byrne sent over the bar, restoring Kildare's lead by a point.

The Kildare forwards Were giving a dazzling display and the Kerry backs had their work cut out to stop some dangerous movement. Waters, prominent at midfield, sent in a long effort. Kerry fouled about 20 yards out. D. Burke took the free, the leather hit the crossbar, and Walsh snapped the rebound and saved a dangerous situation. Kildare were having the better of the exchanges, and a lightning run along the left wing was ended by Byrne, who drove over a great point from a difficult angle.

This Kildare success was the signal for a Kerry effort. The Kingdom moved the ball in from the corner and crossed to Landers. Landers sent in a stinging shot for the goal, and the ball, glanced off. A great run by Fitzgerald along the wing was spoiled by a Kerry foul. Vigorous play at centre field ended in the ball going into touch. Stack got the throw-in and he passed to Ryan who gave to Landers. Landers with a Nice Left Sent High Between the Uprights reducing Kildare's lead to a point.

A dangerous hand-passing rush by Kildare was stopped by Walsh. Frees came in quick succession before Loughlin forced a "50" for Kildare. Higgins missed this, but Waters put Kildare on the attack and H. Burke fielding a high ball drove over Kildare's seventh minor. In the next instant the same player missed in the goal mouth. Kildare had decidedly the better of the opening half, and were deserving of a bigger lead, when the short whistle blew, with the scores:-

Kildare – 7 points
Kerry – 4 points


New Kerry positions

                                        D. O'Keefe

D. O'Connor                 J. Barrett                        J. Walsh
P Doyle                           D. Burke                          H Burke

P. Russell                      J. Sullivan                        T. Landers
P. Byrne                         P. Martin                           J. Maguire

                          R. Stack*                         Con Brosnan*  (capt)      
                          P. Loughlin                       P. Waters

J. J. Landers                 M. Doyle                        P. Whitty*                        
W. Hynan                       J. Higgins                        P. Miles

E. Fitzgerald*              J. Ryan*                           M. Regan
F. Malone                      M. Goff                             J. Meaney

                                      M Walsh

With a deficit of three points, Kerry faced their task in grim determination. Shortly after the throw-in there was a hop. Doyle got it, and elected to try a long range shot on his own. It missed. Two frees in succession went to Kildare. Sullivan, a rare defender, got the second. His kick reached Regan, who send wide from far out.

Kerry swarmed to the attack. A dropping ball from Brosnan reached the square. Whitty got under the leather and pushed towards the net. There was great applause from the Kildare following when Walsh held and kicked to safety. Still Kerry pressed and had a free at 30 yards' range. Ryan drove over the bar, reducing the Kildare lead.

Kerry showed a big improvement on their play in the opening half. They were again dangerous but two frees to Kildare changed the scene of action. Martin sent in a hot shot which O'Keefe saved for a "50". This was cleared by a sterling defence, and a great hand passing movement by Kildare saw Burke try for a goal. O'Keefe cleared, and a long free by Higgins was beaten off. Great play by P. Whitty on the wing left Ryan in possession. He raised the white flag amid wild Kerry cheering and the Kildare lead was reduced to a point.

A great rush by Kildare was stopped by Barrett, and Kildare swarmed in again to see Doyle miss by inches. Fitzgerald put Kerry on the attack. Kerry had a free which Brosnan landed in the goal-mouth. Whitty boxed the ball: but Walsh held safely under the bar and kicked away.

Kildare burst away and a trying tussle in the Kerry goal-mouth ended in a free to Kildare. Maguire took the kick, and missed a glorious chance. Kerry came along the wing and Doyle from far out drove wide.

Kerry had a free which Barrett kicked to Whitty. Whitty drove over the equalising point- 7 each – after 18 minutes play. Two frees went to Kildare and from the second Burke restored the All White's lead with a point. Kerry had a free about 45 years out, Brosnan kicked wide. Whitty fielded the goal-kick on the "50" and sent a long punt high between the sticks, for the best score of the day, setting the teams once more level.

Two frees in succession were awarded to Kerry. Ryan took the second about 20 yards out, and gave Kerry the lead amid wild cheering from the Southern followers.

Kerry were playing in winning vein and Kildare appeared to tire. M. Doyle secured the kick-out. He passed to Ryan, to wheel round Goff and the white flag was hoisted in the Champion's favour.

Kildare rallied and worked along the wing, for Paul Doyle to send wide. Play came to the Kildare end in a flash. Walsh saved from Ryan, but Russell got on the clearance, and a long put was misfielded by Walsh, who dropped the leather over the line. To make doubly sure Ryan rushed in and kicked into the net.  A thunderous shout rent the air when the green flag went up.

Kerry swarmed to the attack, Landers, Brosnan and Whitty sending in telling centres. Goff cleared a hot attack before Kerry had a free on the "50". T. Landers and Walsh cleared the free and later Sullivan saved a dangerous situation

Paul Doyle Missed a Great Chance at Close Range before Kerry swept upfield. A hard fought game ended in favour of the Kingdom on the scores: -

Final Score
Kerry – 1 goal 11 points
Kildare – 8 points

Mr T. Keating, Fethard was a very strict and capable referee.

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