Dublin’s exhilarating win over Kerry in the 2013 All-Ireland final was the birth of the team that ultimately won five All-Ireland’s in a row.
That is the verdict of Eoin Sheahan, Nathan Murphy and Stephen Doyle who rewatched the game as part of Off The Ball’s Classic Game Club series.
Sheahan remembers the game vividly when he watched it live, despite presumably not being even nearly sober, as the Dubs downed his beloved Kingdom in the closing minutes of the game.
“I wasn’t working at the game, I was a true fan. I was watching from the front row in An Pobal Gaeltacht tent at Electric Picnic. I wasn’t actually at the game.
“My friends found me somewhere around the main stage a couple of hours later balling. No, I wasn’t crying. Maybe I was. I don’t know. Maybe a little bit.
“Yes, I have [cried over Kerry]. Not on a regular basis but if you’ve been on it all day at Electric Picnic then you watch Kerry lose to Dublin it reminds me of old times. That is how the tears happen,” Sheahan said.
Nathan, the only neutral viewer on the panel, was impressed with the determined Dublin team that eventually defeated an outrageously skilful Kerry side.
“It definitely showed in that first 20 minutes how Dublin had developed from the previous four years where Kerry got the fast start in 2009, killed Dublin and Dublin had no backbone, no bottle to come back into the game at all. They just let Kerry run riot.
“Whereas this time, Kerry kept scoring goal after goal in 2013 but Dublin stuck with them. They got the next point every single time. They just kept going.
“They never looked like a team who were beaten, even when Kerry were totally dominant and playing by far the better football.
“It very much felt like a clash of two styles, in a way. I just thought, particularly in the first half where you had the artistry of Gouch.
“He was just running the show and everything was buzzing off him. Donnacha Walsh was brilliant at times in that game as well.
“Whereas Dublin just seemed like a machine. They were like, ‘We’re just going to put our heads down and stay in this game, no matter what,” Murphy commented.
Jim Gavin’s men went on to beat Murphy’s beloved Mayo in the 2013 All-Ireland final, back at a time when he felt the Dubs were beatable.
“It was far better. It felt like you had a chance. They were wonderful times,” Murphy said.
'It was an indication of what to come'
Doyle, the Dub on the panel, looked back at that year’s Allianz League final as well and saw the beginnings of a near unbeatable Dublin team that game.
“There were two points by Dean Rock who replaced Bernard Brogan in the 58th minute and one by Jack McCaffrey in the final four minutes that steered Dublin to victory after they trailed six times in the second half.
“I think that gave us an indication of what was to come, not just in 2013, but throughout Jim Gavin’s reign. Dublin teams finishing strongly in the last 10 minutes,” Doyle commented.