Everything changes for an All Ireland final replay except the prize at the end of the road
Don’t be surprised if the best players for Cork and Clare the next day are the ones making amends
Myself and Galway’s Seán Ó Domhnaill exchange shirts after the drawn All-Ireland final in 2000. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
A friend of mine is halfway to a fortune after the hurling final. Whatever notion took him, he managed to back the double on both All-Ireland finals ending in draws and he got it at 150/1. He’s sitting pretty enough now. Obviously, it wouldn’t be any sort of huge shock to see Dublin and Mayo end level.
I played in the last drawn final and replay, against Galway back in 2000. Funny enough, it was the second replay we had that year because we drew with Armagh in the semi-final as well. And actually, it was the second All-Ireland final replay for a lot of us because five years earlier we drew an All-Ireland under-21 final against Mayo.
It’s a unique situation when you draw a final. You spend so much time and energy building up to the game that afterwards you feel at a loss to know what to do with yourself. The Cork and Clare lads will find this an odd week. Plenty of them would have taken time off work and now they’re at a loose end. You can’t plan for it so you have to just play it by ear.
In some ways, it’s easier to know what to do if you’ve played badly the first day. After that under-21 final in 1995, the mood wasn’t great heading back down the road. We had played some fairly shocking stuff, myself included. I was marking David Brady but I didn’t get into the game and was subbed before the end.
I wasn’t as badly off as Killian Burns though, who was taken for two goals by David Nestor. He cleaned him out, so much so that we took to calling Killian “Peanut” for a while afterwards because of the dry roasting Nestor had given him.
Páidí was the manager at the time and he was driving the car back down the road from Tullamore with four very quiet boys in it along with him. There was myself, Dara Ó Cinnéide, Diarmuid Murphy and Jack Ferriter. And the mood Páidí was in meant a word barely passed between us.
The final was at the end of August that year so it was the last week of festivities in Tralee. We had a fortnight until the replay and so there’d have been a general feeling that maybe a few hours in among it wouldn’t do us any harm. But nobody wanted to be the man who’d bring it up.
As we came into Tralee, Páidí put it out there and said, “Do any of ye want to get out lads?” The only problem was, he seemed to speed up as he asked it. The implication was more or less that if any man wanted to get out and go for a pint, he’d have to duck and roll out of a speeding car to do so.
We kept our mouths shut.
Of course, by the time training came round on the Tuesday night, Páidí had got word back that a fair few of the rest of the lads had gone into Tralee on the Sunday night. Well, he was nearly delighted to hear it. “All I can say lads,” he said, “is that in the west Kerry car, there was no fella who wanted to go for a pint when the offer was there for them”.
To be honest, a draw in an All-Ireland leaves you with an eerie feeling, throws you from the minute the final whistle goes. I remember after we drew with Galway, I wasn’t sure how to shake hands with them.