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Local Studies Department

All-Ireland Final

Leinster Leader, Saturday 6th October 1928.

Kildare All-Ireland Champions

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HOLDERS OF SAM MAGUIRE CUP

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Thrilling Struggle at Senior Football Final

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GREAT BID BY CAVAN TEAM

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Champions Fully Extended for One Point Victory

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THRILLS THE ORDER OF THE DAY

In the long history of Senior All-Ireland Football Finals at Croke Park there has never been witnessed a more surprising and more thrilling struggle than that witnessed on Sunday last when the Gaels of Breffni met the men of Cill-Dara in the final bid for premier honours. The Kildare team entered the contest in the most optimistic mood for on all sides it was regarded as an easy proposition for the All Whites. The fact that it was reported the Kildare team would have to play minus some of its most prominent members did not detract from the general optimism prevailing. The Kildare men were regarded as certain to retain the championship and those were not wanting who expressed the view that the game would be a repetition of the Cork fiasco when the champions won easily by a huge margin. The All Whites entered the arena hot favourites and it is not to be wondered at if something of the prevailing optimism, almost amounting to overconfidence, pervaded the members of the team. To those with experience of teams and an eye for details the appearance of the Cavan Gaels gave a pause for doubt. A compact, well-knit body of men, of average size and walking with a springy movement from the hips which devoted close acquaintance with athletics and perfect training they at once conveyed the impression that here were opponents who would give a good account of themselves, Gaels who would go the full hour without breaking, athletes who would play a fast, formidable and scientific game. In appearance they were all that an ideal team should be, and it was no wonder that the legions from the O'Neill territory arose en masse and roared their greetings to their standard bearers. It was the first revelation that the champions were likely to meet with an opposition worthy of their standing in the G.A.A.

A last minute surprise from the champions was the retention of Joe Curtis in his old position. When the fact became known many were in grave doubt of the ability of Curtis to go through the game. Having received an injury to his ribs in the Cork match Curtis was definitely "off" having been on the sick list for some weeks, and not having gone through the training course in the interval. It transpired that at the last moment a difficulty arose with regard to the team and Curtis consented to play when called on. It is a tribute to his pluck that, though heavily handicapped, he went the full hour giving a good account of himself at every period of the game. Much the same thing applied to 'Gus' Fitzpatrick who met with a serious cycling accident just prior to the Cork match, in which he nevertheless participated, and who had not yet fully recovered from the combined effects of the accident and the gruelling he sustained in the Southern contest. The widespread interest manifested in the contest for premier honours was demonstrated in the Metropolis on Sunday morning where, from an early hour, excursion trains, buses and private vehicles poured thousands of enthusiasts into the city. The main thoroughfares were thronged with visitors who sported the rival colours and gave loud and continuous expression to their confidence in their teams.

The Red Hand of Ulster was prominently displayed on bannerettes and badges, whilst the Kildare All White flags were borne by cheering enthusiasts on every description of vehicle and the familiar white badges were in evidence everywhere.

It was long before the starting hour when dense throngs wended their way towards Croke Park and fully an hour before the time every seat on the stands and side-lines was occupied, whilst the bank presented a sea of faces as every foot of space on it was covered by a dense multitude. The day was an ideal one, with bright sunshine and a light breeze blowing from the railway goal. The pitch was in good order and there was a slight nip of frost in the air. The progress of the minor hurling final helped to while away the waiting interval, and on its termination a strange stillness descended upon the vast concourse, indicative of tense feelings, as those present awaited the appearance of the aspirants for All-Ireland football honours. Each team was well supported and the men of the North were Prominent in the stands and on the side-lines where in thousands they awaited the appearance of the Breffni stalwarts. The Kildare men were equally well supported in the packed ranks of the spectators and they were specially honoured by the presence of
THE BISHOP OF KILDARE AND LEIGHLIN
who was accompanied by the high officials of the G.A.A. in a reserved enclosure in front of the Grand Stand. The entry of the Kildare men was heralded by the appearance of their tiny mascot who dribbled the ball in on the pitch to the accompaniment of general cheers. A second later the All Whites entered the arena to a hurricane of cheers from their supporters, and a second later a wild Northern yell greeted the appearance of the Dark Blue of the Cavan Gaels. Each section of the spectators vied with the other in their vociferous greetings and the applause and cheers mingled in one mighty roar as the teams lined up behind the band of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union Band, with the Breffni Pipers' Band, and the parade of the contestants commenced. At the side of the grounds opposite the Grand Stand the teams swung into the centre of the playing pitch where Most Rev. Dr. Cullen, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, greeted the players and the rival captains bent their knees and kissed the Episcopal ring as his Lordship expressed his welcome and shook them heartily by the hand. In the meantime the band had proceeded to the space opposite the Grand Stand and the teams stood to attention, Dr. Cullen and those with him removed their hats and faced towards the band whilst the vast gathering stood uncovered. In a silence, which was in strange contrast to the preceding hurricane of sound, the strains of "The Soldier's Song" floated over the historic ground. In reverent silence all present stood until the last note had died away. Then a mighty cheer rent the heavens. Alderman Tom Burke, of Louth, the capable. referee, approached Dr. Cullen and handed him the ball, rapidly the teams were in place, a toss of the coin favoured the North men who elected to play with the wind, a blast from the referee's whistle, his Lordship threw in the ball and the great game had commenced-the final stage of the 1928 Senior Gaelic Football honour had been reached-one short hour would decide the great issue.

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