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Local Studies Department

Kildare v Dublin, Leinster Senior Football Final, July 22, 1928

Leinster Leader, July 28, 1928, page 3

THE GAME----DISCREDITABLE TACTICS

Comment on the game may be briefly summed up as a splendid display of Gaelic football utterly spoiled by the disgraceful roughing tactics of certain members of the Dublin team which culminated in the referee belatedly ordering the Dublin captain---P. McDonnell---off the field. A more disgraceful exhibition of deliberately and dangerous roughing and fouling has never been witnessed in recent years in a first-class Gaelic game, and for the sake of their own good name the Gaels of Dublin should insist on those in authority dealing severely with the individuals responsible. Transgression of the rules and possibly injuries to players may be looked for in any hotly contested game and due allowance must always be made for their feelings and the excitement of the moment over-ruling the cooler judgement of players, but with even the most generous allowance in this direction no atom of excuse can be found for the tactics which swayed some of the Dublin team in this game. The repeated and deliberate fouling of the Kildare men, which forced Jack Higgins to retire, and left other members of the Kildare team to resume with difficulty was utterly indefensible and contrary to the most elementary sporting instinct. Previous incidents of the kind had been glossed over for the sake of the good name of the Association. In the face of this most recent and most glaring breach of the rules there is no alternative, in the interest of the G.A.A. but to deal drastically with the responsible individuals and leave them powerless in the future to bring discredit upon the Gaelic pastimes.

In the opening half the spectators were treated to a fast and scientific game, well up to the highest standard. Whilst the exchanges were sharp and the period were not devoid of fouls, these were of a minor nature and called for little adverse comment. The Kildare "All Whites" were playing the game of their lives, and the forward line displayed a quite unexpected degree of strength and efficiency. The Dublin men were playing well up to standard but the Kildare combination was working with the perfect balance, speed and smoothness of a well-oiled machine and were simply irresistible. Their team work was superb and they were all over the heads of their opponents for the ball on every occasion. It was a fascinating exhibition and many degrees better than the Kildare men put up even in the All-Ireland final. It savoured of Telepathy as, with uncanny accuracy, the ball travelled from player to player, and was shot unfailing between or in close proximity to the opposite posts. One felt sympathy with the undoubtedly fine work of the Dublin men which went for naught in the face of the agile white clad Kildare men who seemed possessed of super powers. The Dublin hopes were at zero when the half-time whistle went leaving Kildare seven points to nil.

So far matters had progressed in manner worthy of the Gaelic code. It had been a give and take game, fast and scientific with a tinge of hard luck against the Dubliners. During the interval the prevailing feeling was one of sympathy with the metropolitans, and a desire that they should reduce the big lead and come in closer touch with their doughty opponents. The game had, however, been resumed a short time when the introduction of the most unsporting tactics took place. "Gus" Fitzpatrick had just cleared a dangerous Dublin advance to Curtis when the latter was fouled in possession and a second later the same player was again fouled in the most flagrant manner. Kildare added two points, and J. Synnot put up the first score, a minor for his side. In the succeeding play certain Dublin players indulged in what appeared to be deliberate roughing which called for the constant attention of the referee, and culminated in Jack Higgins being injured. There had been angry and insistent calls for the referee's ruling from the Kildare supporters and loud demands that the Dublin captain be sent off, and the renewal by Higgins alone prevented a more formidable protest. Higgins' injury left the Kildare side very unbalanced and for the first time a looseness of play manifested itself. Dublin pressed and Kildare slumped badly for apart from the injuries to Higgins, Curtis, Malone and some of the lighter fry were also the worst of the wear from the proceeding rough tactics. Shortly after this Higgins was "crashed" and was replaced by F. O'Toole as he had to be carried off the field. Dublin were pressing and Durnin was responsible for a great goal shot from left full, the only goal of the game. Fitzpatrick was prominent in repelling concentrated Dublin attacks following a further point. Walsh in the Kildare goal brought off a great save and Paul Doyle had cleared to Curtis when the latter was openly fouled in possession and was down injured for some time. Resuming Curtis again got possession and a further foul brought a storm of angry protests from the Kildare supporters. Play resumed on a free to Kildare and the Dublin posts were in imminent danger when a Kildare forward got possession. Here occurred one of the grossest breaches of the rules when two Dublin players closed in on the man with the ball. The Kildare man was subjected to a double foul as one of the Dublin men closed him in his arms and the other went right in on him in front. The Kildare man collapsed and there was a storm of protest from the spectators which seemed like developing into an invasion of the pitch until it was seen that the Dublin captain had been sent off by the referee. In the subsequent play Dublin forced a "50" twice and Curtis and P. Loughlin were fouled in circumstances which evoked loud and justifiable protests. Relentlessly the Dublin men were forcing the pace and bit by bit the Kildare lead was being reduced. Were it not for the frequency of fouls this would have been one of the most brilliant periods of a great game. Norris, O'Reilly, Durnin and Joe Synott were doing great work for the Dublin side, whilst Goff, Fitzpatrick, Joe Loughlin and Paul Doyle were prominent for Kildare. Kildare forced a "50" but the Dublin backs cleared. Bit by bit the Kildare margin disappeared and the All Whites seemed to be going to pieces as their splendid team work was replaced by spasmodic individual efforts which were less than useless. The pace did not abate a jot, but the Kildare men were off their marks a lot and seemed unable to rise for the ball, this being particularly noticeable in the case of the men previously injured. Wild yells rent the air from the Dublin supporters as, within five minutes of the final whistle, Dublin reduced the Kildare lead to one point. It recorded a great "come back", and the pity was that the mighty effort was marred by the unpleasant tactics referred to. The Dublin men now hurled themselves heart and soul into an epic struggle for at least the equaliser, but now the All Whites seemed to arouse themselves again and when Goff and Fitzpatrick, who played a consistently sound game, had cleared a further attack by the Dublin forwards Joe Loughlin reversed matters and Curtis missed the Dublin net by inches. Dublin broke through and invaded the Kildare territory, but the whole Kildare midfield force, which had again attained cohesion, proved impenetrable and a concentrated attack on the Dublin posts had just been cleared by Carey, J. McDonnell and Norris when the long whistle went leaving Kildare with a one point victory.

We desire to emphasise the fact that in referring to the rough tactics which we condemn we are not alluding to ordinary breaches of the rules, but efforts of the most persistent and deliberate nature which conveyed a clear intention to incapacitate opposing players. Let it be said, in fairness to the Dublin team, that all the members were not guilty of such tactics. They were the action of individuals who displayed a nice discrimination in selecting the lighter members of the Kildare team for their attentions. It is these individuals who should be dealt with by the authorities in the interest of the Gaelic games. By their action they have done a grave disservice to the Dublin Gaels and it is up to the latter to clear their sporting reputations from responsibility for the incidents referred to.

Mr. T. Burke, Louth, was originally chosen to referee the match. It is to be regretted that this choice was not adhered to. This is no reflection on the well-known Wexford captain's abilities or impartiality, but the latter's association with a team which went under to Dublin so recently did not tend to make a delicate task any easier. This probably explains his obvious reluctance to take drastic action against any member of the Dublin team, but in our opinion if the situation had been more firmly handled in the earlier stages much of the subsequent trouble would have been avoided.

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REFEREE ASSAILED.

Nasty scenes took place following the final whistle when the spectators invaded the pitch and a section of the Dublin supporters assailed the referee who was rescued by the stewards and escorted to the dressing rooms, the centre of an angry mob, the members of which shouted reflections on his conduct of the game. At the same time rival supporters of the teams had come into conflict and some blows were exchanged. Luckily wiser counsels prevailed and burly peace-makers introduced forcible arbitration which resulted in the combatants taking different routes towards home.

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