Epic ‘Thunder and Lightning Final’ recalled at auction in Cork

GAA memorabilia includes hundreds of programmes for football and hurling finals

The programme from the famous “Thunder and Lightning Final” of 1939 which saw Kilkenny and Cork   brave extraordinary weather

The programme from the famous “Thunder and Lightning Final” of 1939 which saw Kilkenny and Cork brave extraordinary weather


German Stukas were unleashing blitzkrieg on Poland and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had just declared war on Germany as Cork and Kilkenny captains Jack Lynch and Jimmy Walsh led their teams on to the pitch for the All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park on September 3rd, 1939.

The “Thunder and Lightning Final” saw both teams brave extraordinary weather before Kilkenny prevailed 2-7 to 3-3 in a decider that will be recalled again when a programme for the game goes on sale on Saturday.

One of several hundred of GAA programmes being sold at auction, the 1939 programme is probably the most notable. However, the entire collection is a treasure trove of GAA memorabilia, according to the man handling the sale, Cork auctioneer Denis Lynes.

“We have 62 lots – 40 of them are individual lots such as the programme for the 1939 All-Ireland final and the programme for the 1937 football final between Kerry and Cavan, which is the oldest one we have – they go right up to 2000 and we’re selling the more recent ones in boxed lots,” he said.

According to Mr Lynes, the programmes were collected by an avid GAA fan who attended all the games, including several games played in Wembley when he lived in London, but they were only found by his family after he died.

Collectors’ market

“The man’s family want to remain private but clearly he was a very enthusiastic GAA fan because, in addition to having most of the All-Ireland final programmes for hurling and football finals, he also had programmes from the Munster hurling championship and the Ulster football championship,” he said.

Mr Lynes said he had priced the programmes keenly – the 1939 All-Ireland final programme has the highest guide price at €500-€700 – as he wanted to attract as many buyers as possible, given it is a special interest market. However, he concedes the programmes could fetch up to €5,000 in total.

“There’s a small collectors’ market but the programmes are very interesting. Aside from other notable games such as Kilkenny v Waterford in 1959 and the Cork v Wexford games of the 1950s, there are rare football programmes, such as Kerry v Armagh in 1953 and Dublin v Derry in 1958,” he said.

“The Kerry v Dublin programme from 1955 cost six pence and I noticed that two people advertised in almost every one of them are Clerys shop in Dublin and Sweet Afton cigarettes; sometimes the ads were in Irish so they provide some insight into the social history of the time too.”

The programmes, which also include some FAI programmes from the 1960s including League of Ireland clubs such as Drumcondra and Shelbourne, go under the hammer at the Lynes and Lynes auction at its showroom in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork starting at 11am on Saturday, March 25th.