BE PART OF THE TEAM

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 4°C Thursday 13 May 2021
Advertisement

Tales of '47 and '97 - Kerry and Cavan's memorable past clashes

Two famous matches took place between Kerry and Cavan in 1947 and 1997. Will next Sunday’s game be remembered like those two?

Maurice Fitzgerald during the 1997 All Ireland semi-final between Kerry and Cavan.
Maurice Fitzgerald during the 1997 All Ireland semi-final between Kerry and Cavan.
Image: @INPHO Patrick Bolger

IT WILL BRING a certain romance to Croke Park early on Sunday afternoon.

Cavan are back operating at the Jones Road venue. Last Saturday’s joust with London was the first time Cavan played a senior championship match at headquarters since an All Ireland semi-final with Kerry back in 1997.

Fifty years previously they encountered the Kingdom in the New York decider of 1947.

These matches with Kerry have peppered the Breffni conversations over the past week. Cavan are back at the Jones Road venue bringing a decent crowd and a deep tradition with them.

Recent campaigns mightn’t be loaded with silverware, but there was a time between the 1930′s and 1960′s when Cavan were feared in Ulster. Thirty nine provincial titles have been registered, but only one since 1969: that came in 1997.

Cavan were kings of Ulster in 1997

Starving since 1969, Cavan’s capture of the Anglo Celt in 1997 wasn’t without a drop of drama. A quarter final 1-12 each draw with Fermanagh didn’t exactly suggest an adventure was imminent.  But Cavan prevailed in the replay by 0-14 to 0-11 and a semi-final with Donegal awaited.

A fine, open encounter was won by Cavan, 2-16 to 2-10 and an Ulster final appearance loomed. Surely Derry, stocked with experience and class, would have sufficient street smarts for the underdogs?

Cavan, though, snapped throughout a tight clash. When it was all done and dusted, Stephen King hoisted the famous trophy high towards the Clones sky.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

It ensured Cavan went to the capital for a crack at Kerry, who had Maurice Fitzgerald in his pomp.

Cavan were spirited and sprightly, but Kerry, under the stewardship of Paidí Ó Sé, sensed that Sam Maguire could be claimed.

Ronan Carolan was knocking over the frees, Dermot McCabe possessed significant promise and the inevitable few Reilly’s in a Cavan shirt had Kerry troubled for a short spell. Kerry brought a steely determination with them and never got too fussed beating Cavan 1-17 to 1-10.

Seamus Moynihan’s legend was being carved out, Darragh O’Sé was beginning to hint at midfield greatness and Fitzgerald’s craft were key features for Kerry. In the subsequent decider Fitzgerald’s nine point contribution is still debated, especially in Mayo.

New York, New York

Cavan’s place in the history books, though, is guaranteed for their 1947 final appearance. Playing Kerry in the Polo Grounds in stifling New York was the only time a senior All Ireland final took place on foreign soil.

On the centenary on the Great Famine that had forced so many to emigrate, Gaelic Games followers in the States had campaigned extensively to bring such a match to the Big Apple. So travel plans were made with Cavan’s players mostly going by air and Kerry’s by sea.

When the football started it wasn’t without controversy either, but Cavan stayed the distance to cause a shock.

Peter Donahue’s eight point haul was pivotal as Cavan eventually emerged 2-11 to 2-7 victors in front of a crowd of 34,491 with most people in Ireland having to settle for Micheal O’Hehir’s radio commentary.

Here’s the video to get Cavan fans pumped this weekend

The Tyrone v Meath game is now referred to as ‘El Crispico’ on Wikipedia

Read next:

COMMENTS (3)