Limerick’s All-Ireland final win on Sunday over Kilkenny attracted a television audience of 774,000. This was uncharted territory for the GAA and RTÉ, as it was the first hurling All-Ireland to be played in July and the first of any sort for more than century.
The good news is that it’s actually an increase on last year’s audience. Limerick-Cork was played in August and attracted a slightly smaller audience of 769,000.
Less encouraging is the drop in audience compared to the most recent pre-Covid hurling final, Tipperary-Kilkenny in 2019. Played in August, that drew 830,000 viewers.
The announcement that Shane Roche is stepping down after three years in charge of the Wexford footballers is the latest departure on the intercounty football front. Roche took over in difficult circumstances when Paul Galvin moved to the west of Ireland at the start of the pandemic and before the much delayed 2020 championship started.
This year, Wexford took Offaly’s scalp in the championship but couldn’t repeat the achievement in the Tailteann Cup when drawn against the same opponents.
Roche joins some high-profile departures, Mayo’s James Horan, Monaghan’s Séamus McEnaney, Meath’s Andy McEntee and Enda McGinley in Antrim.
On the other side of the ledger, McEntee, a former All-Ireland club winning manager with Dublin’s Ballyboden St Enda’s, in a surprise switch moved to take the reins in Antrim.
It’s not entirely without precedent for a Meath man to take a team in Ulster. All-Ireland winner Terry Ferguson was appointed to manage Fermanagh for a short-lived tenure in the mid-1990s.
By the numbers
2 — In 100 years of championship, this is the 10th All-Ireland final that Kerry enter having beaten Dublin along the way. Of the previous nine, the county has won all but two. Most recently in 2009, the year of the ‘startled earwigs’ saw the last Kerry win in the fixture until a fortnight ago and going back to 1932 when they went on to beat Mayo in the final. A word of caution: on the only two occasions when Kerry didn’t go on the win the All-Ireland after beating Dublin, 1965 and 2001, the title ended up with Galway.
Galway-Kerry: the beginning
The counties first and last meetings in an All-Ireland final were in 1938 and 2000. Both went to a replay with each county winning one. The first time, 84 years ago, attracted a then record attendance of 68,950 — an enormous 15,000 more than the previous best. Ralph Griffin’s goal three minutes from time earned a draw for Galway, 2-6 to 3-3.
The replay ended in controversy when a free was mistaken for the final whistle. It took some time for the match to resume by which time some Kerry players had left the ground. Replacements were found and Kerry cut Galway’s lead by one before the end, 2-4 to 0-7.
Word of mouth
“Yeah, well look at it. You look at history and Dublin and Kerry are way ahead, but Galway are actually the third most successful team in football in the country. People sometimes forget that, but it is a long, long time since we’ve been competing at this level.”— Galway manager Pádraic Joyce reminds everyone of his county’s place in the history of the football championship
Playing both ways
In the above final, Jackie Flavin, who lined out for Galway made a piece of history by winning All-Ireland medals both with and against his native county in successive years. Having lined out in another All-Ireland final replay in 1937 when Kerry beat Cavan, Flavin was back a year later helping Galway to defeat Kerry. In 1940, Kerry turned the tables and beat Galway and Flavin.