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Local Studies Department

All-Ireland Final

Leinster Leader, Saturday 6th October 1928.


On the merits of the game too much cannot be said. It was fought out in the very best sporting spirit and was one of the best exhibitions of scientific Gaelic football ever witnessed. The great feature of the game was the outstanding performance of the Cavan men which was a surprise packet for the spectators. With the Kildare team one always associated a scientific display accompanied by speed and dash, but to the surprise of those who were not acquainted with the Cavan combination the latter quickly proved that in speed, stamina, combination and science they were not one whit behind the champions. It was early demonstrated that the contest would be a close one and that it would take all the resources of the Kildare Gaels to retain the title. Had J.P. Murphy, the brilliant Cavan back, been able to retain his place on the team (he was injured in practice) the result of the match might well have been different. That is assuming that matters on the Kildare side followed the same course. In fairness to the champions, however, it must be remembered that they entered the field under a very heavy handicap. Both Curtis and Fitzpatrick were in such a condition that pluck alone carried them through the ordeal of the fierce contest-Curtis having been unable to go through the training course and only corning on to play in an emergency which arose on Sunday. On top of all this Joe Loughlin's retirement at an early stage of the game was a further severe handicap. It is no sense disparaging to the fine performance of the Cavan men to say that had Kildare lost the match it would have been the direct result of a series of unfortunate circumstances which undoubtedly left the champions much below par. That they secured victory in the face of such handicaps and that they could achieve such a fine all round performance in the circumstances is one of the greatest tributes to their outstanding abilities. In the past it has been asserted by many supporters of the All Whites (and there were some grounds for the assertion) that Kildare lacked the ability of teams like Kerry to "come back". Sunday's game provided a different story. In the face of a contest that was an uphill one from the start, some pieces of very hard luck that might well have disrupted the team were met with a fierce determination which had to prevail and an adverse balance was culled down not once, but several times.

The game may be summarised in the statement that from beginning to end no player on either side got away with the ball without having defeated an opponent for possession. The entire was a dour, grim struggle for supremacy where the slightest hesitation, slip or fault found an opponent on the spot to make trouble. Unlike many games where play is carried from one end of the field to another and mainly centres around the goals there was practically no long kicking for the simple reason that no player was left unhampered long enough for the purpose. It was quite apparent that those in control of the Cavan men had carefully observed the Kildare tactics in previous games and that instructions had been issued to the Breffni team how best to cope with the "Short Grass" style. From the outset of the game the Northerners kept in close contact with their opponents, the object obviously being to prevent anything like open play. These tactics were quite legitimate and with a less experienced team might have succeeded but the All Whites have been too long "on the sod" to be thus easily disposed of and there was a quick alteration of style which soon proved effective. This fund of experience accruing from their previous All-Ireland contests, stood to the champions throughout the keenly contested game.

At the opening of play the Cavan men were away at a speed and with a style that was a revelation. The champions seemed to delay in getting going and in the meantime the men of the North appeared to carry all before them. It was shortly after the start and Cavan had sent wide when on a return visit Devlin sent over a point for the opening score. The champions braced up and the backs were doing great work with Buckley and Fitzpatrick combining nicely when Joe Loughlin was injured and had to leave, being replaced by Dan Ryan. Kildare made a great effort to get through but the Cavan backs were on the alert and kept their citadel intact. Up and down the field a stern struggle waged with the balance swaying slightly now this way-now that. Time after time the backs came to the rescue at the last moment. Fitzpatrick was down hurt but resumed. Shortly afterwards Cavan got possession in the back lines and came right up the field with a series of fine passing movements which were reminiscent of Kildare at its best, and Murphy and Smith were responsible for a further point. Again the Cavan men pressed matters on the kick out and Fitzpatrick had just cleared a dangerous situation when Devlin secured and, with a 'great overhead shot, put Cavan up a third point.
Three points to nil and the Northern supporters were wildly jubilant, while the imploring cry "Come up, Kildare" came from all sides. The champions rapidly responded to the invitation and from a free by Higgins a grand attack put the Cavan defenders working like Trojans. Curtis was hampered in possession and centred where Keogh sent over the first point for Kildare. Play was in midfield when the attackers forced a "50" from Cavan and Higgins centred beautifully. The champions took the lead when from a tussle in front of the Cavan goal, following an effort by Paul Doyle, P. Loughlin sent to Curtis who boxed into the net. Cavan visited the Kildare end but "Gus" Fitzpatrick and the custodian cleared. A minute later Clegg just managed to stay a great shot by Curtis and the Kildare backs were again called on to clear. Goff, Fitzpatrick and Buckley had to go all out to avert a threatened score. Paul Doyle was fouled in possession and from the free sent over a further point. Play was very strenuous on the kick out and the Cavan men made great efforts to wipe out the lead, but relentlessly the champions were contesting every inch of ground and were slowly forcing defensive tactics. Three times in succession the Kildare men essayed to score, but sent wide. As many times the ball was dropped in front of the Cavan goal but a great defence prevailed and attack after attack was beaten off. Neither side could get through and the short whistle left Kildare leading by two points on the score :-

KILDARE 1 goal 2 points
CAVAN 3 points

The game so far had been full of thrills and the spectators were on a high pitch of excitement on the resumption, Thrilling as the first period of the game had been it was as nothing to the fever pitch of excitement which prevailed as the game was fought grimly out-in doubt to the last moment. Cavan made a fierce onslaught on the Kildare posts and the backs just saved, Buckley clearing to the wing. Devlin returned with a dangerous shot which Fitzpatrick cleared. From a free Smith put Cavan up a point. The Cavan men fought hard to wipe out the one point lead, but the Kildare men were equally determined and the very intensity of the struggle gave rise to numerous minor infringements. With a long kick from near the "50" mark Paul Doyle sent over a great point for Kildare. Shortly afterwards Doyle put over a further free for Kildare, and with a three points lead the champions looked to be "sitting comfortably." At this stage the brunt of the work was falling on the Cavan back line who appeared to have the attackers well in hand, but the efforts of the Cavan forwards to get away were nullified by the Kildare backs who had asserted a very definite supremacy. Cavan came through in style time and again, but Buckley, Fitzpatrick and Goff proved too tough a combination and some fine clearances were witnessed. Matters looked well in hand for the champions when with dramatic suddenness the fortunes altered. Fitzpatrick had cleared with apparent ease when Devlin passed back to Young. Fitzpatrick jumped for the ball and Walsh, in the goal, also sprang to intercept it. Fitzpatrick apparently stopped to avoid hampering Walsh and just at the moment the latter slipped and Young's shot from an angle found the corner of the net for the equalising goal. The Cavan supporters went wild with enthusiasm and jumping to their feet waved hats and umbrellas and shrieked themselves hoarse, and many indulged in a miniature war dance on the side-line. Devlin was the outstanding figure for Cavan at this period and he captured from the goal kick and shot to the forwards where Farrelly nipped in and brought the Cavanites to their feet again, madly cheering, as he sent over the bar for a point lead. Cavan again, burst through and it looked as if the champions were going to be submitted to a steam rolling process, but the back lines steadied down the opposition and Fitzpatrick cleared for Malone to send on. The Kildare forwards now strove for a score and the Cavan back line were valiantly contesting the issue when an infringement by one of the defenders gave Paul Doyle an opening. From the free Doyle centred beautifully and the forwards rushed the position. Out of the ruck Paddy Loughlin wrenched himself clear and the next moment the leather boxed into the net. An objection was raised that the ball was thrown, but the referee ruled otherwise and the green flag was raised amidst a storm of cheers from the All White supporters. A second after the kick out a further free allowed Doyle to put Kildare a further point up, and matters again looked well for the Champions with a three points lead. Cavan invaded Kildare territory but were repulsed by a sound defence, and in a forward move the champions had hard luck in failing to score. Cavan lost Malcomson through an injury and T. Crowe went to right full back. Many of the spectators had left the field and there was a steady stream to each exit, for with Kildare three points ahead and about seven minutes to play the game looked all over. The sturdy Cavan players, however, were putting up a game fight and the Kildare men were not taking any more chances than they could help. A long kick by Lynch got past midfield and Fitzpatrick eased a dangerous situation, but quick as a flash Devlin returned and levelled the scoring with a great goal. The scene that followed was indescribable and baffles description. The Cavan supporters shrieked their joy to the accompaniment of waving sticks, hats and banners, stamping of feet and even overcoats were used and waved wildly aloft. Pandemonium reigned for several moments and shouts of "a draw! a draw!" were heard on all sides. A free to Cavan in midfield now, and again the Cavan supporters shrieked their hopes to the Blues. Grimly the Kildare back line awaited the onslaught. The fate of the championship hung on a thread and anything might happen. Straight for the goal mouth the ball sailed-Fitzpatrick and Goff were on it-Buckley received the leather on the wing and Malone drove right down the field. Cries of "Now Paul" greeted Doyle's capture of the ball and it was the turn of the Kildare supporters to cheer wildly again and again as Mangan shot over the bar from a splendid pass by Doyle. From the goal kick the Cavan men came through and the Kildare posts were again in danger, but Goff and Fitzpatrick cleared in turn and Buckley eventually eased a dangerous situation by putting Higgins in possession. The Cavan men still continued their efforts to force a way through right up to the sound of the final whistle which gave the All Whites their fourth Senior Football All-Ireland Championship after one of the most hotly contested games that has been witnessed in Croke Park for a long time.

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