herald

Tuesday 14 August 2018

It comes down to desire to win -- and Dublin are very hungry

I MADE my own way to Croke Park for the All-Ireland final in 1974. We were playing Galway and I was the Dublin goal- keeper -- but that was the way it was back then.

I remember I got up, went to Mass, came back for breakfast and headed off. All the neighbours on the road were out to wave me off and they had decorated all the houses with bunting, even my own. It was lovely.

I drove into Croke Park. I even bought a new pair of laces for my boots on the way in! The arrangements were the same as if it was an ordinary game. You parked the car in the car park and met the rest of the lads inside the ground.



Important

Later on, we used to travel by coach, but in 1974 there was none of that. You arrived under your own steam and checked in, so to speak.

People still talk to me about the penalty save I made in that match from Liam Sammon. It probably was the most important save that I ever made. It would be hard to beat the significance of it.

I'm not sure was it the first ever penalty saved in an All-Ireland Football final, but it could possibly have been.

It came at a crucial stage of the game. We were two points down at the time. If that penalty had gone in, Galway would have been flying and the game might have gone beyond us.

That's the way it goes. Luck plays a part. We were under quite an amount of pressure in that match, but the fellas responded brilliantly.

The fans were singing my praises after that save, but they were cursing me in the 1978 All-Ireland when Kerry's Mikey Sheehy floated that famous goal over my head!

People still love to talk about that incident. Mikey gave me his boots from that match and I hung them up in the pub in Ballsbridge. We had all the pictures from those games in the 70s on the walls of the pub. And the slagging from that goal hasn't stopped since.

Mikey used to pop in to see me in Ballsbridge. We still keep in touch. That Dublin team became great friends with the Kerry lads. But not only Kerry. We have friends all over the country.

I'm out of the pub business now for a few years. And it's wonderful to say that you can travel all over Ireland and drop in for a chat with footballers we played against all those years ago.

I was at the 1980 All-Ireland final. Roscommon should have beaten Kerry that day. God rest Dermot Earley.

I was sitting in the upper deck of the old Cusack Stand. The atmosphere was unbelievable. The din, the noise, the colour.

I was looking down on the parade and thinking we were part of all of this for the previous six years.

You never realised it was happening until it was over. But then you have all the memories to look back on, and, as I say, the friendships that last a lifetime.

They were great times. The clashes with Kerry were special. It was a privilege to be involved.

Later on, I became the Dublin manager. We were knocking on the door. We reached an All-Ireland final, so hopefully now we can go one better on Sunday.

I think it's going to be a very open game. Dublin will be very hungry.

Kerry, of course, are the old war dogs. They have been here so many times before.



SHACKLES

But Dublin have been striving and striving to get into the All-Ireland final. And now after 16 years, they are there. So now I think the shackles are off. They have made the big day, so they'll really be going for it.

Like always, it will come down to the team that really wants it. And nobody would question Dublin's desire.

And coming from the goalkeeper's union, I feel that we have an ace in Stephen Cluxton. He's the best keeper in Ireland.

He's so steady and he has some smack of a ball with those 45s. He's also so accurate with those kick-outs.

Stephen is a superb shot-stopper. He's a good organiser. He has everything. He is just the complete package. He's also a very unassuming lad. He's never in the papers or on the radio or television.

You never hear him saying much, unlike myself!

But let's hope we all have something to sing about on Sunday night.

'Let the Railway End go barmy because Hill 16 has never seen the likes of Giller's Army.'

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