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'All the kids look 40 years old' | Meath vs Cork '90 | Classic Game Club

Eoin Harte
Eoin Harte

12:58 16 Mar 2020

Watching the 1990 All-Ireland football final between Cork and Meath is like watching a different sport entirely where even the newcomers look like grizzled veterans.

That is according to Nathan Murphy and Eoin Sheahan anyway, who looked back at the ‘90 decider as part of Off The Ball’s Classic Game Club series.

There are definitely legitimate questions to be asked over whether this one qualifies as a ‘classic’ based on the quality of football, but the sheer hardiness of the men involved grant the game some recognition.

Nathan Murphy, a proud Mayo man, is no stranger to watching All-Ireland football finals with great anguish.

However, even he found this one tough to watch.

“Watching it back last night - it’s like watching a different sport. Part of me was watching it going, ‘This is the worst game of Gaelic football I have ever seen.’

“It just doesn’t feel like the Gaelic football we watch now in any way. The brilliance of it is the toughness of it and obviously the rivalry of Cork and Meath and Cork going for that first ever double.

“I don’t remember once in the game a rampaging half back getting the ball and making a rampaging run forward. Every time a half back got the ball it was, ‘I’m going to kick this as far forward as I possibly can.’

“This is a final that took place two months after Italia ‘90? And it’s Jack Charlton-style football. It’s get it forward as quickly as you possibly can,” Murphy commented.

'The most manly man's game in Gaelic football'

Eoin Sheahan, known far and wide as one of the toughest men from County Kerry, was appreciative of the ferocity of the encounter.

“It is the most manly man’s game, potentially, in the history of Gaelic football. Probably peak manliness, peak tough guy.

“A couple of things I noticed first of all. Everybody in this game looks like they are 38 years old. They all look really, unbelievably old.

“There is a time when the camera pans to Stephen O’Brien and I think, ‘This guy is clearly a grizzled veteran and has about 10 kids.’

“Then the commentator is like, ‘Stephen O’Brien of course, Under 21 next year again.’ And I’m like, how do all these kids look 40 years old?

“They all look like they’ve been through the wars and have seen some things none of us should see.

“They’re all well beyond their years. Everybody is a tough guy. You do not want to get caught in the cross fire of Meath vs Cork in 1990,” Sheahan said.

Are you tempted to watch the hardiest of men go head-to-head in a classic defined by its brutality rather than it’s skill?

You can watch the match in full on YouTube thanks to CR’s Video Vaults.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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1990 All-ireland Classic Game Club Cork Eoin Sheahan Meath Nathan Murphy

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