Dublin underline why they are the greatest Gaelic football team ever

Inside Track with John McIntyre

WE had thought we would never see their likes again – a durable and brilliant Kerry football team winning eight All-Ireland titles between 1975 and ’86. Only for that famous late Seamus Darby goal for Offaly in the 1981 final, Mick O’Dwyer’s great outfit would have pulled off an unprecedented five-in-a-row.

Eight Sam McGuire Cups in 12 years represented a staggering dominance of the sport, but here we are nearly four decades later saluting a mighty Dublin team which has surpassed the achievements of those mighty Kerry soldiers. Even before Sunday’s latest showdown between the counties, the Dubs were out on their own.

With eight All-Ireland titles in ten years before their semi-final losses in 2021 and ’21, Dublin had cemented their standing as the greatest team ever by also completing an historic six-in-a-row. But time catches up on every team and in the wake of those semi-final losses to Mayo and Kerry, the understandable presumption was that Dublin were a fading force.

Starting off life in Division 2 of the National League last spring was another barometer of falling standards and when they made heavy work of overcoming Kildare in the Leinster Final, few thought that they would end up winning another All-Ireland title. At that juncture of the championship, Kerry, Galway and Mayo were rated ahead of them, while Derry’s challenge was also being spoken about in more favourable terms.

The return of Stephen Cluxton, Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion also smacked of a certain level of desperation, but within the camp – and that’s all that matters – it was a signal of intent. The Dubs were determined to roll back the years and after overcoming Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday, it’s confirmation of their status as the greatest team of all-time.

Nine Sam Maguire Cups in 13 seasons is a staggering haul, and with team captain James McCarty, who sailed close to the wind on the sport’s biggest occasion, Cluxton and Michael Fitzsimons becoming the first players to win nine All-Ireland medals, we were watching history in the making.

Pictured: St James’ Eoin Concannon breaking away from Aidan Burke of Annaghdown during the Group 1 Senior Football Championship clash at Kenny Park on Saturday.  Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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