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Heroes of the past inspire Cavan and Tipp

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Tipperary revolutionary Dan Breen threw the ball in for the 1920 All-Ireland final played in ’22

Tipperary revolutionary Dan Breen threw the ball in for the 1920 All-Ireland final played in ’22

Tipperary revolutionary Dan Breen threw the ball in for the 1920 All-Ireland final played in ’22

In hindsight, wasn't it written in the stars? Why wouldn't Tipperary win their first Munster title in 85 years, wearing jerseys that carried the image of Michael Hogan in the colours that he died in, 100 years on from Bloody Sunday in Croke Park?

And wasn't there nothing surer that Cavan would honour one of their greats on the anniversary of his death by winning the Anglo-Celt Cup?

The Breffni men were crowned kings of Ulster 68 years to the day the Gallant John Joe O'Reilly passed away tragically young.

Sunday was liberation day for Cavan, where they became just the sixth side to win an Ulster title from the preliminary round.

Only Cavan in 1945, Armagh in 2005 and Donegal in 2011, 2012 and 2018 have managed to come through four rounds to win Ulster. With wins over Monaghan, Antrim, Down and Donegal, they joined that elite club yet their achievement is way out on its own.

When Donegal last won from the prelims they had six weeks to put their campaign together. Cavan pulled if off in just 22 days. And they did it with the Gallant John Joe, the county's sole representative on the GAA's Team of the Millennium, smiling down on them.

And there's more historical links at play this year.

With Mayo already in the last four where they were (inevitably) joined by Dublin on Saturday night, the Cavan and Tipperary wins pair off the same semi-finals as there were 100 years ago.

As for pointers for the future, it's hard to know if the past can offer any more signposts. Tipperary beat Mayo in their semi-final while Dublin saw off Cavan. However, the progress of the championship was seriously hampered with the War of Independence and the 1920 final wasn't played until June of 1922, when Tipperary emerged victorious.

The following day, 'The Freeman's Journal' wrote: "The 1920 football final, played yesterday at Croke Park, will rank with the best and most exciting championships in the history of the GAA. On a baked ground and under a broiling sun the pace was set a cracker and never flagged, but rather intensified to the last whistle. And it was the pace that told, and to Tipperary's tremendous stamina and indomitable spirit must their success be attributed."

It might take another civil war to stop Dublin this time around, but for a championship that nearly never was, this one has proved to be one of the most memorable in a long time.


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