It’s a curiosity that Sunday’s Lidl All-Ireland Ladies’ SFC final is both familiar and completely new at the same time.
Obviously, a meeting of Kerry and Dublin with national silverware at stake is something that has strong Gaelic heritage, but never before have the counties gone head-to-head for the Brendan Martin Cup.
The Kingdom claimed ten titles in 12 years up to 1993, but the last of those was a decade before the Dubs won their first Leinster championship.
Both made the final during Cork’s period as queenpins of the sport – indeed, Dublin in 2010 were the only county to pierce the Rebels’ supremacy from 2005-16 inclusive – but when the ‘Jackies’ won five on the trot after that, Kerry were not among those to oppose them in deciders.
The last two years saw Meath go back-to-back, with Dublin the beaten 2021 finalists and Kerry coming up short last year, and now the pair have finally made it to the showpiece together.
Apart from 2017, when Dublin beat Mayo in the men’s and women’s All-Ireland final, it’s the first time since 1982 that the senior deciders for both genders have featured the same counties. Back then, the Kerry women extracted some level of revenge for the fact that Offaly had denied their men the five in a row as they overcame their Faithful County counterparts.
Dublin won Leinster, defeating reigning All-Ireland champions Meath along the way, while Kerry were defeated by Cork in the Munster final. Then, the counties were drawn in the same group in the round-robin stage of the All-Ireland, with Kerry beating Dublin and Cavan to finish top while the Dubs came second.
A quarter-final win over Meath was a real statement by Kerry as they avenged last year’s All-Ireland defeat before besting Mayo in the semis. For Dublin’s part, they outclassed Donegal in the last eight and then impressively pulled clear of Cork to win by 12 points at the penultimate stage.
It’s hard to argue that the final doesn’t comprise the two best teams in the country and the fact that they are the two most recent beaten finalists means that there will be some heartache eased.
Unfortunately, the corollary of that is that it will be doubled for the others. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Kerry’s desire was greater.
Last weekend, Cork brought a five-year wait for a camogie title to an end as they produced a superb display to ease past a Waterford side that were playing in the county’s first final for 45 years.
The hope for the Déise is that it will have been a learning experience and that the gap to the next appearance won’t be as long.
A word for Cork panellist Molly Lynch, who made it two All-Irelands in two days as she won the Poc Fada title in the Cooley Mountains on bank holiday Monday while Kerry’s Fionán Mackessy won the men’s equivalent. CL
World Cup warm ups
With the greatest of respect to Italy, Six Nations Championship wins over them are soon forgotten, and so Ireland’s 33-17 triumph last Saturday in a Rugby World Cup warm-up won’t live long in the memory.
If anything, the injuries to Jack Conan, Craig Casey and Jimmy O’Brien could prove to be the longest-lasting effects, though Caelan Doris will hope that his performance will have given him a strong chance to stake a starting spot for the World Cup.
With captain Jonathan Sexton suspended, Jack Crowley once more showed that he is continuing to develop into an out-half of real quality, and he will have another opportunity to do that next Saturday against England.
Of the three preparation games – Italy, England and Samoa on August 26 – that match is likely to be the closest to the pitch of a World Cup game, though even then there is a big difference in terms of intensity.
One other thing of note from last Saturday was that, for the first time, the Ireland players wore jerseys with their names on the back, over the numbers.
From the point of view of tradition, it’s a needless addition – all the more so given how often we hear the line about current incumbents “only minding the shirt” for the next generation – but the tide of commercialism is one that can never be pushed back. If it’s something that sells more tops, it will happen eventually.
Another well-attended game in Dublin last Sunday was at Aviva Stadium.
Around 50,000 were present at Lansdowne Road for the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Spanish – or, rather, Basque – side Athletic Club of Bilbao.
The game finished 1-1 but the main disappointment for the Irish Red Devils who attended was that the Manchester United they saw was not the ‘real’ United.
Instead, Erik ten Hag put out a team closer to the United first XI on Saturday for a game against French side Lens at Old Trafford. Pre-season games always involve an element of pot luck as managers try different things ahead of the commencement of the ‘real’ thing, but one can understand the misgivings of those who paid more than €300 for a ticket for the Aviva.
Unsurprisingly, the whole episode provided some schadenfreude for long-suffering League of Ireland fans, who were happy to ‘helpfully’ point out that, for the same price, a season ticket at a local club could have been purchased.
They are of course correct, but every Irish fan of an English club will have developed a connection over a series of years or decades.
If someone paid €300 for a concert ticket only to find half the backing band present and the lead singer absent, they would be understandably miffed and take no consolation from the fact that they could watch someone cheaper in a local pub.
If United knew that they wouldn’t be sending a full-strength team, then that should realistically have been flagged in advance – but then, the uptake in tickets might not have been as strong, would it?