A Bluffer’s Guide - to Dublin and Kerry’s football rivalry
Beating the Dubs a mere bagatelle for canny Kerry natives - GAA’s El Classico equivalent
Kerry legend Paidi O’Se lifts Sam Maguire in 1985. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Is this Gaelic football’s equivalent of El Classico?
Look, there’s to be no soccer references in this piece. They have played 28 times in the Championship with Kerry leading 19-7 with two drawn matches so it might be a bit of a stretch to call it a rivalry – but Dublin have won the last three so . . .
What about that compelling series in the 1970s, when men had sideburns, long hair, short shorts, socks without elastic and everything up to an including GBH was permitted in the game. Don’t people go all dewy-eyed about the great clashes in the 1970s?
That may be down to the fact that on rainy afternoons in August and September the dye that ran from those crepe paper hats was something of an irritant. It was the bespoke fashion item of the time, Sunday suit and crepe hat – then the three Ms; mass, meal and the match.
Were the matches of the 1970s part of a cultural exchange programme?
The Dublin-Kerry clashes of that time are a storied part of the GAA and are directly responsible for the twinning of suburbs in Dublin like Cabra with Kerry towns like Cahersiveen to honour the players born in those places..
How do you mean?
Well how often have you seen a Dublin footballer pictured walking down a street, a beach or a mountain in the Kingdom or a Kerryman peer out from behind a pint of porter in the snug of a Dublin pub? They were arguably more celebrated in each other’s counties.
Is it true that one or two of the players took up positions in the Party Planning industry, cleverly realising the massive public appetite to endlessly celebrate the past?
That’s scurrilous. Just because those teams have had about 172 reunions to reminisce: they had a lot to get through. And anyway they did talk about other things apparently, like golf and where they’d play next like Thailand or the Dominican Republic to spread the ‘good old days’ gospel.
The crowds that watched those matches were huge.
Yes, bolstered by those lifted over a turnstile and admitted free. Not only children – there were some hairy minors trying.
So the Dubs, the reigning All-Ireland champions, only have to turn up on Sunday to guarantee victory?
Not even the ‘truest blue’ on Hill 16 would dare think. In 2009 Dublin went into their All Ireland Championship quarterfinal clash with Kerry as raging favourites but after 70 plus minutes were transformed into bemused Forficula Auricularia.
I beg your pardon? Startled earwigs.
Can Kerry sell the prospect of winning on Sunday to those non-believers outside the Kingdom?
They came up came up with the idea of putting a Jack Russell terrier on the back of a donkey on a bend in the road 300 yards before the bridge over the Caragh river on the road between Killorglin and Glenbeigh, getting busloads of Americans to stop and while taking pictures sell them pots, pans and tat. Beating the Dubs will be a mere bagatelle.