herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Dublin has always been team to beat, says Kerry legend Johnny Culloty

Dublin v Kerry in the 1955 final
Dublin v Kerry in the 1955 final

Dublin has always been the team to beat for Kerry sides, according to a Kingdom legend that first came up against the Boys in Blue in the 1955 All-Ireland Final.

The Dubs take on Kerry in the final for the 13th time on Sunday, but the real rivalry between the teams began in the 1950s.

Johnny Culloty (79) had just turned 19 when he played corner-forward for Kerry as they triumphed over the boys in blue by a narrow three-point margin at Croke Park.

Mr Culloty, who was later to play in goal for Kerry for more than a decade, said GAA was a lot different during that era, but the rivalry between the two sides had begun.

Commitment

He told the Herald that the year-round commitment by inter-county footballers in the modern era was unheard of during his time as was any training until All-Ireland Final day approached.

"We never had any training during the National League, and I came on as a substitute in the Munster Final against Cork that year, and we hadn't done any training before then either," Mr Culloty said.

"We played Cavan in the All-Ireland semi-final and drew the game, and it was only for the replay that we started training.

"We had collective training. All the players came in together and stayed in a hotel in Killarney and trained in the morning and evening for three weeks solid [before the final].

The pre-final attitude was so laid back at the time that Jim Brosnan, who played wing-back that day, was only flown back into the country days before the final.

"Jim was a doctor working in the States at that time, but he only came home the week before and played in the final," Mr Culloty said.

The final saw an astonishing 87,102 spectators in attendance - up there with the highest crowds ever at Croke Park - with Culloty saying many crept in free of charge.

Dublin were very much the fancied team for the final, according to the former Kerry goalkeeper, but the Kingdom needed no extra motivation going into battle against the Dubs.

"There was always a rivalry. You'd be very anxious to meet Dublin," he said.

"They were the city team, they had the population and anytime you saw Dublin go into a final there'd be a lot of hype around them."

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