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One fan watching Kerry-Dublin has been at All-Ireland finals for the last 70 years

Kilkenny man Michael O’Broin attended his first All-Ireland hurling decider in 1945.

The Dubs and the Kingdom getting ready to face off.
The Dubs and the Kingdom getting ready to face off.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

TODAY, MICHEÁL O’Broin will make what has now become a ritual journey from Drogheda to Croke Park for the All-Ireland senior football final.

Born in 1929, Kilkenny native O’Broin attended his first senior hurling decider in 1945, when his beloved Cats lost to rivals Tipperary at GAA HQ.

Micheál missed out on the hurling showpiece a year later due to illness but he’s attended each and every Liam MacCarthy Cup shootout since then, including replays.

He’s also been present for the vast majority of football finals, since his first one in 1950.

While the small ball is his first love, football is another big passion for O’Broin, who is a cousin of former Kilkenny hurling star Denis Byrne’s father.

“He’ll head off on the train or bus, he’ll make his way to the match no matter what,” former Allstar and All-Ireland senior medallist Byrne told The42.

“I’ve the height of admiration for the man, for his commitment to the GAA down through the years.

“He would be very highly thought of in Louth.”

Micheál cites the 1947 hurling final, when Kilkenny beat Cork by 0-14 to 2-7, as the best game that he’s ever seen.

Three years later, he attended a football final for the first time, when Mayo beat Louth.

Micheal O'Broin GAA fan Micheál O Broin

“I paid a shilling to get in,” Micheál recalls. “And the match programme cost three pence.”

Born in Callan, O’Brion spent a number of years working in Cavan before settling in Drogheda.

After arriving in Louth, O’Broin quickly became a key figure in the promotion of hurling in the Wee County.

“As well as being a GAA fanatic, he is a great supporter of the Irish language,” Byrne explains.

“He had a programme in the 1970s on RTÉ, just before the six o’clock news.

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Denis Byrne Denis Byrne lifts the Leinster senior hurling trophy for Kilkenny in 2001 Source: INPHO

“He has never driven a car and uses either buses or trains to attend games.

“I remember playing a League game for Kilkenny in Tralee in the spring of 1994 and leaving the ground, to my amazement I met Micheál .

“For him, it had meant a 6am start and several rail and bus connections to get from Drogheda to Tralee that Sunday.”

O’Broin has an underage shield hurling competition named after him in Louth and he’s also the author of two books – one dealing with his involvement in Louth hurling and the other entitled ‘From Noreside to Boyneside.’

General view of the Sam Maguire cup The prize on offer for both teams next today. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

He has a current football link as well as his nephew Dave Byrne, who helped to make the new Sam Maguire.

This remarkable 86-year-old has been living in Drogheda since 1960 and reckons that between hurling and football finals, he’s attended somewhere in the region of 130 September showdowns.

“I played a small bit way back, when I was travelling around” he smiles.

“I was never good enough for the Kilkenny panel but I played a bit of hurling in Roscommon and Bunclody.”

Source: INPHO

Micheál’s hoping for a Kerry win on today but first and foremost, a good game.

“It’s just the atmosphere,” he says. “Football wouldn’t have been my game but when you get a good one, you won’t miss the next one, it grows on you.”

If you’re heading to today’s game, and you see Micheál on your travels, make sure to say hello. He’s one of a rare breed.

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