Kerry beaten at their own game

 

FROM THE ARCHIVE MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH, 1960:Down 2-12 (16) Kerry 0-8

Down, in taking the Championship Cup across the Border for the first time, did not win by a lucky score or two. They won decisively by two goals and 10 points to eight points – 16 points to eight, in scoring tally. And these men from beyond the Mourne mountains were worthy of every winning score.

They played polished football throughout and were not lacking in good fielding and long kicking. As well as that, they combined wisely, and their shooting within range was never off the mark. They scored two fine goals and Kerry were goal-less.

As a football game, this 1960 final seemed to lack something of the brilliant game expected, and it lacked the excitement of a close finish, but that was not the victors’ fault. For once, Kerry failed at the vital stage when they had forced the issue to level at the 35th minute of the hour. When the vista opened for one of Kerry’s usual all-sweeping Croke Park finishes, Kerry seemed to hesitate and make grave errors in attack.

They met a grand lot of Down backs where every man from E McKay out was master of his position. Kerry certainly did not look the perfectly trained and team-like 15 of the past. They were 50 per cent below their winning 1959 form, but it may be that they met a team whose preparation in serious match-play and home training was more consistent and more earnest.

Certainly, Down gave a splendid exhibition of football skill, physical fitness and splendid teamship from end to end of a very honest hour’s football, where a few brief flashes of temper passed on the referee’s prompt protest. Down are worthy champions.

The turnstiles were clicking at Croke Park from the noon opening. I was awaiting the opening, and there was no congestion at any of the approaches, though the city was full. The crowd gathered in an orderly fashion, and the stewarding was near perfect.

I walked the pitch at 12.30, and it was in perfect condition. The terraces filled before the stands; for ticket-holders waited on, knowing their seats were secure.

In the minor game Cork held Galway boys level through the field, but the Munster champions failed near goal, They shot dozens of wides; yet it was a good curtain-raiser.

Church and State were in prominent positions in the Hogan Stand, and the President of Ireland had a most enthusiastic reception on his arrival at half-time in the senior game.

By that time every inch of space within the ground looked occupied, and, in fine, calm weather, it was a capacity crowd.

The ball was thrown in by His Grace Dr Morris, Archbishop of Cashel, who has recently been appointed Honorary Patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association. His Grace spoke briefly, yet eloquently, in presenting the Cup to the winners. He was accompanied to the playing pitch by Dr J Stuart, President of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Down had trained well and their road to the final was a rugged one. They met stout opposition in Ulster where Cavan fielded a powerful side against them. Then came the springing Offaly side that held them to a draw and made Down go “all out” to win the replay.

All three games mentioned were Spartan preparation, compared with Kerrys easy progress in the south.

The Kingdom men had a “close call” from Galway and had some training worries. Kerry were not the abundantly ready side we knew!

The game ran a smooth trend, with Kerry battling on against the scoreboard where Down were never led, though Kerry drew level twice.

Ed McKay had a flawless game in goal. I would name Leo Murphy, Kevin Mussen and G Lavery as best of a grand lot of backs. Joe Lennon was a busy midfielder; Jim McCartan was again the ruling force in a grand lot of forwards,where every man of the six blended perfectly – a real champion side!

Kerry were disappointing under pressure. They appeared surprised at Down’s quality and strength. John Culloty in goal saved some hard shots and the ball of McCartan’s that beat him was almost an accident. It just slipped off his fingers. Yet it was a vital goal.

Kerry backs were uneven; Seán Murphy, Mick O’Dwyer and Jerome O’Shea (near the end) were the only only ones that shone. I can find no fault with Mick O’Connell and Jerdie O’Connor at centre. John Dowling was limping going on and limped until he retired. Kerry forwards had an unlucky game, and were disappointing.

Kerry played to the Railway goal, and Mick O’Dwyer sent them upfield; Lavery swung it back for Down and let his forwards away. Tony Hadden raced over to trap the ball and drove the opening point for Down in the fifth minute.

A minute later McKay saved from O’Connell, but Kerry’s tall midfielder met it in its flight and balanced scores at the seventh minute.

Down, playing neat football, again worked across and Doherty hit the Kerry posts with a great shot.

In a fast game, backs beat forwards, until at the 12th minute, T Lyne (free) and Joe Lennon exchanged points .

Down now moved skilfully in combined movements, and scored valuable points from frees (Doherty and S O’Neill).

Forcing the pace the Ulstermen were very clever and landed points from Jim McCartan and Tony Hadden, setting the score six points to two in favour of Down at the end of the first quarter.

At the eighteenth minute OConnor of Kerry fed his forwards, and Tadgh Lyne landed a point from a free.

Within two minutes he sent number four point across for Kerry, but Donnelly’s free set the score 7-4 in Downs favour after 25 minutes play.

In a tense atmosphere both teams were wide of the posts, but Lyne was again deadly off frees and sent the fifth point across from 40 yards.

Kerry re-opened after the break with a sparkle, and Mick O’Connell was seen at his best when he drove through Down’s defence for a point.

When Séamus Murphy swung a long one in, it travelled all the wav for the balancing point of seven each after 35 minutes play. Kerry seemed set for driving ahead to victory, but grave attacking mistakes were made.

Culloty saved a hot Down shot under crossbar, but Down forced the pace and were sending 50s to the posts.

Jim McCartan, at the 12th minute of the second half, drove a vital ball from 50 yards away out on the right. It dropped right under the Kerry crossbar, and Culloty seemed to have it well covered.

He got his hands to it but with no opponent near, to the dismay of all Kerrymen and their supporters, the ball dropped out of his hands into the net corner. Score: Down, 1-7 Kerry 0-7 at 12 minutes of the second half.

That proved the vital score. Down were full of battle now, and drove Kerry into defence with their backs to the wall.

Seán O’Neill was fouled going in and a penalty ordered. Pat Doherty took the kick and drove sharp to the Kerry net.

At the three-quarter hour Down led 2-7 to 0-7. Mick O’Dwyer (Kerry) and P Doherty exchanged points, but Kerry were a much shaken team at this stage. and Down were definitely in the ascendant.

Mick O’Dwyer got Kerry’s eighth point. Jim McCartan was becoming dominant in Down’s attack and Kerry set about making changes. John Dowling, evidently limping, went off and Niall Sheehy went to full forward from full-back; Jack Dowling came on. Garry McMahon went off injured and Jim Brosnan came on.

Kerry set about saving the game, but they found the Down defence very secure and full of energy. Jim Brosnan’s deadly shot was well covered by McKay, and Kerry forwards lacked penetration. The game again swung in Downs favour and Doherty landed two accurate points to make assurance doubly sure.

Down were comfortable winners at the finish. They were the better side from end to end.

DOWN:E McKay; G Lavery, L Murphy, P Rice; K Mussen (capt), D McCartan, K O’Neill; J Lennon, J Carey; S O’Neill, J McCartan, P Doherty; A Hadden, P O’Hagan, B Morgan. Sub:K Denvir for Lennon.

KERRY:J Culloty; J O’Shea, N Sheehy, T Lyons; Seán Murphy, K Coffey, M O’Dwyer; M O’Connell, JD O’Connor; Séamus Murphy, T Long, P Sheehy (capt); G McMahon, John Dowling, T Lyne. Subs:Jack Dowling for John Dowling, J Brosnan for McMahon, D McAuliffe for Lyne.

Referee: J Dowling (Offaly)

Attendance  sets a record

THE attendance at Croke Park yesterday established a record.

The official figure was 87,768. The previous highest attendance at headquarters was 87,102 for the All-Ireland football final between Kerry and Dublin in 1955.