Posted by Daragh Ó Conchúir

The eircom GAA ambassadors select their standout moments of the season

2013 London

It is human nature to dwell on the negatives and there is no doubt that this year’s football championship began slowly. We had the exception of Donegal and Tyrone – Ulster always seems to present us with some heavyweight opener – but unfortunately, we had too many one-sided affairs.

The fare has improved since as the competition has progressed though, with the two All-Ireland semi-finals providing plenty of talking points, wonderful scores and thrilling football.

Those games had numerous standout moments but so too has the rest of the summer. There is at least one more story to be told – and given what has happened in the last two hurling All-Irelands, the term ‘at least’ is used advisedly – but for now, it appears that one rises above all.

Talking to the eircom GAA ambassadors, it is the London fairytale that appears to have created the greatest impression; although Mayo’s clinical dismantling of the Donegal’s All-Ireland-winning machine also gets a mention.

So too does Monaghan breaking their quarter-century famine up north – again at Donegal’s expense – and the manner in which Dublin thought their way out of a potentially calamitous situation in the Leinster final.


Elusive victory

London finished the year without any silverware but defeated Sligo and Leitrim (after a replay) to reach the Connacht final. Mayo were too strong but the story didn’t end there, as the Exiles ended their season in a manner that could never have been predicted, in a round 4 Qualifier at Croke Park.

Cavan ended their campaign but it is a campaign that will sustain the GAA in London for many years. It showed that every dog can indeed have his day, with the right application and a modicum of luck. It was their All-Ireland.

Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte was especially pleased.

“London winning their first championship match since 1977 (against Sligo), and what it meant to them was my standout moment” says Harte.

“I had a special affinity with them because when Noel Dundon was managing them, I was over a few times helping them out with some of their championship campaigns and I knew how much it meant to them to get that elusive victory. To see the glee in their eyes and the celebrations in the dressing room, to me that was quite a moment.

“Thankfully they went on to have a great run as well, and played five championship matches in one season which would have been unheard of for them. They deserve it.”

 2013 Donegal Monaghan

Ulster famine ends

Donegal captain, Michael Murphy also plumped for the heroics of the Boys in Green, although the big Glenswilly man magnanimously referred to Monaghan finally winning an Ulster title for the first time in 25 years. That was despite the fact that Murphy was on the wrong side of that verdict.

“London’s run to the Connacht final when no-one was giving them a chance was great” Murphy declares. “It was good to see it. It is maybe a toss-up between that and Monaghan making the breakthrough even though they beat us, which wasn’t nice. That was a big moment for them.”

Colm Cooper also throws out two options, introducing a new performance to the table.

“The most impressive has been the demolition job Mayo did on Donegal” says the Kerry genius. “I thought they might beat them alright but they were absolutely devastating. That was one of the highlights of the year.

“And London as well, from the point of view of getting to Croke Park and taking a few scalps along the way. They caught the imagination of the public.”


Champions blitzed

Mayo tore up trees in Connacht, as Donie Shine knows to his cost. James Horan’s men accounted for Shine’s Roscommon by 12 points but their powerful performance against the reigning All-Ireland champions is what stood out most for the Clann Na Gael marksman.

“It would have to be the manner in which Mayo defeated Donegal” states Shine. “I don’t think anyone expected Donegal to lose like that. I think it shows how much Mayo have improved over the last few seasons and shows how strong a contender they are this year.”

It is the Ulster final that resonated most with Johnny Doyle. The long-serving Kildare attacker felt that it was a fitting reward for many years of endeavour.

“It was a great occasion” Doyle recalls. “It was the typical David v Goliath situation. Nobody saw it coming. A lot of that Monaghan team have been around the block and plenty people were saying they were past it. It shows what can be achieved with the right application.”

Ciaran Whelan is the only man to come up with a Leinster event.

“It hasn’t been a great season to be honest about it” says Dublin’s former All-Star midfielder. “I suppose for me, it would be Dublin winning the Leinster final. It was a Dublin-Meath Leinster final which is always special and Dublin were behind at half time. They were nervous enough but they just got over the line.”


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