Dublin, All-Ireland Finalists, 24 September 1978
Dublin headed into 1978 looking to put their mark on history. No Dublin team had contested five consecutive All-Ireland Finals. The Dubs had never achieved the fabled three-in-a-row. Dublin's form was impressive. They beat Kerry 2-11 to 3-07 in the National League in October 1977 and continued their winning streak to land the county's sixth National League Title. In a premonition of what was to come, Offaly gave the Dubs a stern test in the Leinster Championship in July. The Dubs enjoyed a facile win over Down in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Most commentators predicted that Dublin would prevail over Kerry in the final. Instead, 71,503 spectators watched the Kingdom run riot.
Dublin started the final impressively, leading 0-06 to 0-01. Con Houlihan, writing in the Evening Press, claimed that Dublin's play in the opening flourish was 'a symphony of classical football'. In the words of Gay O'Driscoll: 'Never has a Dublin team so completely dominated Kerry as in that first twenty minutes'. Even Mick O'Dwyer thought that his team were being overwhelmed. Kerry players and management began bickering with each other. Dublin's defence, perhaps surprised at Kerry's sluggish start, lost their shape. Kerry saw their opening and upped the gears. John Egan got a vital goal before one of the most fateful and controversial moments in the history of All-Ireland Finals. The Dublin management team had flagged their disapproval at the choice of Seamus Aldridge as the match referree prior to the game. Their fears were confirmed when Aldridge controversially awarded a 14 yard free against Paddy Cullen. While the Dublin goalkeeper protested his innocence, Mikey Sheehy chipped the ball over his head and into the net. Kerry, against the general run of play, went in at half-time 2-03 to 0-07 ahead.
The Kingdom were rampant in the second half limiting Dublin to only two points. Everything went wrong for Dublin. Brian Mullins picked up a cracked rib and Kevin Moran played with a damaged hamstring. John McCarthy and Charlie Nelligan saw the line for a dust-up - a rare moment of bad blood between deadly but respectful rivals. Kerry won the match 5-11 to 0-09. The winning margin of seventeen points remains the heaviest defeat inflicted on any county in an All-Ireland Football Final. Mikey Sheehy equalled Keaveney's 1977 record of scoring 2-06.
For many observers the era of the 'Super-Dubs' was over. With Kevin Moran Old-Trafford bound and Pat O'Neill headed for the Mayo Clinic in Baltimore, rumours of retirement for the likes of Tony Hanahoe, Gay O'Driscoll, and Jimmy Keaveney were rife. But the Dubs begged to differ.
Road To Croker 1978:
Leinster SFC Q/F: Dublin 6-15 Carlow 2-09
Leinster SFC S/F: Dublin 2-09 Offaly 0-12
Leinster SFC Final: Dublin 1-17 Kildare 1-06
All-Ireland S/F: Dublin 1-16 Down 0-08
All-Ireland Final: Dublin 0-09 Kerry 5-11
Dublin All-Stars 1978: Robbie Kelleher, Tommy Drumm, Jimmy Keaveney.
N.B. This image is taken from the 1978 All-Ireland Final match programme is copyright of Cumann Luthchleas Gael/Gaelic Athletic Association.