There’s nothing quite like it. When Kerry and Dublin meet in the All-Ireland Championship it rarely disappoints. It’s always a special occasion when the two most successful team in the history of the game meet. The Jackeens vs the Culchies, it is a rivalry which brings with it a huge history and tradition, and their clashes have provided us with some iconic games, scores and moments which will live long in the memory.
Choosing just five is a difficult task given the plethora of memorable contests between the sides, and there are some truly great battles omitted, but here are 5 Classic Dublin vs Kerry showdowns.
1977 All-Ireland Semi-Final: Dublin 3-12 – 1-13 Kerry
Widely regarded as the greatest match of all time, this contest was a harsh lesson for an emerging Kerry team, as well as a huge victory for a brilliant Dublin team. Having split the previous two All-Ireland Championships this third consecutive meeting was seen as a decider of sorts. Many felt whoever emerged from this victorious would land a psychological blow against their opponents.
The game was played at a thrilling pace with neither side willing to take a step back. A Sean Walsh goal for Kerry saw them take a three point lead in to the break but Dublin responded in the second half with Bernard Brogan playing a pivotal role from the bench. That Kerry team would go on to become legends but on this occasion it was the Dublin greats of Keaveney and Hanahoe, Mullins and O’ Toole who emerged victorious. Dublin would go on to win their 3rd All-Ireland in four years but would not beat the Kingdom again until 2011.
1978 All-Ireland Final: Kerry 5-11 – 0-9 Dublin
After winning the All-Ireland in 1975, Kerry suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of Dublin in the following two years. It was the type of setback which could derail an ordinary team. But as history would go on to show, this was no ordinary Kerry team and the 1978 final proved to be the launch-pad for the greatest team Gaelic Football has ever seen.
In what was a frightening display of attacking ability the Kingdom simply annihilated their opponents. Their full forward line combined to score 5-8 with Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston announcing himself on the inter-county stage with a hat-trick of goals. It was also the game where Mikey Sheehy scored perhaps the most iconic goal in the game’s history with his cheeky lob over Paddy Cullen. The game would prove a changing of the guard with that Kerry going onto win a further 6 titles while Dublin had to settle for just one during the same period.
2001 All-Ireland Quarter-Final: Dublin 2-11 – 1-14 Kerry
After such memorable battles throughout the 70s and 80’s, Dublin and Kerry would not meet again until 2001. Kerry had gone through somewhat of a barren spell since 1986 but when the sides met again in 2001 order had been restored and the Kingdom went into the game as reigning champions. With a team of great players the men from the Southwest were expected to see off their rivals with relative ease.
And for the most part things went according to plan with Mike Frank Russell and Johnny Crowley playing well. With ten minutes to go it seemed the game would peter out. Enter Vinny Murphy. The substitute’s goal triggered the comeback and when a second goal from Darren Homan gave Dublin a late one point lead it looked like the Dubs would get a famous victory. What happened next was simply magical. The great Maurice Fitzgerald picked up a side-line ball and caressed it over for what is surely the greatest ever point scored in the All-Ireland Championship. It was heartbreak for Dublin who would ultimately lose the replay.
2007 All-Ireland Semi-Final: Kerry 1-15 – 0-16 Dublin
This instalment of the Dublin-Kerry rivalry does not get as much recognition as the others but was a classic in its own right. Dublin were an emerging force and were beginning to be really recognised as All-Ireland contenders. Kerry were the dominant team at this stage, having contested 4 of the last 5 finals.
In what was an exhilarating contest, there was little to separate the teams until a Declan O’ Sullivan goal early in the second half sparked a Kerry onslaught. It saw the Kingdom lead by 6 points with 20 minutes to go. Dublin clawed their way back and were just a point down with a few minutes left on the clock. Kerry’s experience shone through at this point as they picked off a couple of key scores to win by 2. It was an epic battle with Declan O’ Sullivan’s performance a particular highlight. The duel between Alan Brogan and Marc O’ Se was also a joy to behold, two of the greats of their generation performing to the peak of their abilities.
2013 All-Ireland Semi-Final: Dublin 3-18 – 3-11 Kerry
The most recent of their contests, this clash was described by many as the greatest game since the 1977 classic. A free flowing, goal filled, thriller it came at a time when many felt the defensive side of the game was detracting from the sport as a spectacle. Dublin and Kerry well and truly rubbished that theory on this occasion.
An extremely tight affair right up until the 69th minute, the diminutive figure of Kevin McManamon again proved the difference. As in 2011, the indomitable substitute, raced through the Kerry defence to score a crucial goal. Dublin killed the game with a third goal a few minutes later but the damage had been done at this stage. Dublin emerged victorious in what as a truly great game. Some of the individual performances from the likes of Cooper, O’ Donoghue, Brogan and Connolly were fantastic and the game proved to highlight the fact that there is still plenty to admire about Gaelic Football.