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Reeling in the years: Our 11 favourite Dublin v Kerry memories

From “Bomber” to Brogan, Cooper to Cluxton, we take a look back at the best moments in one of the GAA’s finest rivalries.

Pat Spillane of Kerry and Ciaran Duff of Dublin in 1984.
Pat Spillane of Kerry and Ciaran Duff of Dublin in 1984.

THIS WEEKEND’S ALL-Ireland semi-final showdown between Kerry and Dublin inevitably conjures up memories of the great battles of the 1970s between these two heavyweight counties.

However, the two teams have produced some thrilling episodes since those halcyon days for Gaelic football and this Sunday’s clash between the two most successful teams in the big ball game will be their fourth championship meeting since 2007.

We look here at some of the stand-out moments in their fabled rivalry, from the middle of the last century, right up to Stephen Cluxton’s iconic winning free in the 2011 final.

1. 1955 All Ireland Final

YouTube credit: Bryansford Gael

This was just the fourth-ever meeting between the counties in an All-Ireland Final, and a first in 31 years. A then record crowd of 87,102 saw Kerry defeat Dublin in a game that left a lasting impression on Dublin full forward Kevin Heffernan. Rumours have it that Dublin legend Des Ferguson blamed the defeat on the media building Dublin up to outrageous heights.

2. 1975 All Ireland Final: the knock-out

YouTube credit: Ach gohairithe

The next final showdown between the two was the start of a series of games that defined the GAA for many years. Dublin, under now manager Kevin Heffernan, were defending champions but were caught on the hop by a young Kerry side who would go onto become legends.

Realistically though, the moment from that day that has gone down in infamy was the series of tackles that saw Kerry captain Mickey Ned O’Sullivan knocked out cold as he raced through on goal. Cynical, one might say.

3. Driller Brogan

YouTube credit: Bryansford Gael

Dublin had gained revenge for their defeat in ’75 when they recorded a 3-8 to 0-10 victory over Kerry 12 months later. In 1977 the two teams met again, this time in the All-Ireland semi-final and produced what is generally regarded as one of the finest games ever. Bernard Brogan Snr decorated the last four clash with a wonderful goal that led the great Michael O’Hehir to utter one of his most famous lines.

4. Eoin Liston’s hat-trick

YouTube credit: Bryansford Gael

The game that launched “The Bomber,” a nickname enthusiastically apportioned to every full forward in the country ever since, Liston produced a masterclass as Kerry began their four-in-a-row assault. (Keep an eye out for a pass from Pat Spillane around the 4min41s mark that would cause the great man to spontaneously combust were a player to try it this weekend. )

5. That goal

YouTube credit: Jorgen Hartogs

One of the greatest moments in GAA history. Simple as that.

6. Páidí’s Speech

YouTube credit: GAA Archive

Two Joe McNally goals almost brought Dublin victory in one of the best games between the two sides, but the 1985 final is most fondly remembered for the late, great, Páidí Ó Sé’s brilliant acceptance speech as Gaeilge.

7. The trip to Tipp

A first meeting since the ’85 decider, Dublin and Kerry were drawn together in 2001, the first year of the back-door system, in the All-Ireland quarter final.

Maurice Fitzgerald brought Kerry back from the brink in the first tumultuous game in Semple Stadium, Thurles after Vinny Murphy’s scene-stealing entrance and late goal.

Johnny Crowley proved the hero in the replay when he bagged 2-2 — unfortunately evidence of these goals is hard to come by these days!


8. Cooper points the way

YouTube credit: GAA Archive

Kerry qualified for a fourth successive All Ireland final when they saw off the Dubs in a cracking semi-final that went down to the wire. Declan O’Sullivan’s goal was the difference between the teams on the day, a goal created by Colm Cooper’s vision and guidance.

9. “Startled earwigs”

YouTube credithomerjkerry

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy coined the memorable phrase “startled earwigs” after he saw his team dismantled by a ruthless Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Kerry were supposed to be a team on the wane but Colm Cooper’s goal inside the first minute signalled their intent in a brilliant display that set them on the road to yet another September triumph.

10. The goal

YouTube credit: VicMackey0

Kerry were cruising as it looked like Dublin’s first appearance in a final since 1995 was about to end in failure. Enter Kevin McManamon. The second-half substitute threw the game wide open when he waltzed through to score seven minutes from the end of normal time. Even though Kerry still led, the momentum was with Dublin and eventually they prevailed thanks to…

11. The point

YouTube credit: jonesybar

Stephen Cluxton sealed his place in folklore when he stepped up to drive over the winning point with virtually the last kick of the game. Kerry were beaten, Dublin were champions again, and the Hill went mental.

Have we missed any? What are your favourite Dublin v Kerry memories?

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About the author:

TheScore Team

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