The top 30 moments of the football summer: 20 to 11

Malachy Clerkin reflects on an epic summer ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC final

20 Robbie Kiely goal v Cavan

All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Breffni Park, July 8th

Without five of their 2016 team, Tipperary came from six points down away from home and produced one of the ballsiest displays of the year. Capped off by this goal from Kiely eight minutes from time, smashed home from the edge of the large square.

19 Luke Connolly’s goal v Tipperary

Munster semi-final, Páirc Uí Rinn, June 10th

Conor Sweeney’s goal in the 69th minute put Tipp 1-9 to 0-10 ahead and it looked like Cork were done. From the kick-out, four rat-a-tat passes moved the ball from midfield to the edge of the square where Connolly palmed home. Tipp had led for exactly 30 seconds.


18 Sean Cavanagh’s last game

All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, August 13th

No fairytales. Cavanagh’s 89th and last game in a Tyrone jersey ended after 55 minutes with the game long dead. He jogged off into retirement, holding the all-time record for appearances by an outfield player. A queue of Dubs lined up afterwards to pay their respects.

17 Ethan Rafferty point v Kildare

All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Croke Park, July 29th

This is how you make amends. Armagh’s Rafferty had come off the bench and almost immediately given away two artless frees to keep Kildare in the game. This point, a shall-not-yield effort that kissed the sky on its way down, ushered them off the premises.

16 Sean Powter goal v Mayo

All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Limerick, July 22nd

Goal of the year contender. Mayo were easing to a sleepy win before Cork's Powter stuck as defiant a goal as you'll ever see. Collecting in midfield, he kept running, dodging and bulling on, turning Keith Higgins inside out and beating David Clarke from 15 metres.

15 Lee Keegan goal v Roscommon

All-Ireland quarter-final, Croke Park, July 30th

All the Rossies had to do was catch the kick-out. Or if they couldn’t, they had to foul the man who did. Or if they couldn’t they had to mind Lee Keegan. Or if they couldn’t, they had to go meet him. They did none of these. Mayo were back in it within 40 seconds.

14 Ciarán Murtagh goal v Mayo

All-Ireland quarter-final, Croke Park, July 30th

Even allowing for the Connacht title, this was the high point of Roscommon’s year. Just 11 minutes gone against their old oppressors and Murtagh staked in behind and nailed a low finish at David Clarke’s near post. Rossies 2-2 Mayo 0-1.

13 Johnny Heaney double save v Mayo

Connacht semi-final, June 11th, Pearse Stadium

Six minutes to go, with Galway three ahead. Mayo sub Danny Kirby stripped goalkeeper Ruairí Lavelle and faced an empty net. From nowhere, Johnny Heaney lunged to first block Kirby’s shot and then Diarmuid O’Connor’s follow-up. Superhero stuff to seal the win.

12 Connaire Harrison’s first point v Monaghan

Ulster semi-final, Armagh, June 24th

Harrison was a brutalising force of nature all night for Down, giving Drew Wylie a rare but sound roasting. His first point was Down’s first point, a rampaging full-forward’s rebel yell of a score and Down kicked on from there to their first Ulster final since 2012.

11 Brendan Murphy’s goal v Wexford

Leinster SFC, Dr Cullen Park, May 21st

Carlow hadn’t won a Leinster game since 2011 and now Wexford were within a point in injury-time. Darragh Foley caught a kick-out and fed Murphy on the Wexford 45. Taking the handy point would have sealed it. Murphy decided a goal would seal it better. Rapture.

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times