The Dublin’s Senior Footballers look towards an eight consecutive All Ireland Quarter Final in less than two weeks time. In 2009 they faced the eventual All Ireland winners Kerry and were dealt a harsh lesson. A lesson that coined the now legendary phrase “startled earwigs”. The term used to describe Dublin in the first 15 minutes of that game by their then manager Pat Gilroy.
In his post game press brief, Gilroy spoke in disbelief, that despite Dublin being prepared for the Muster giants, it just didn’t stick.
“Guys who were really quick looked slow.” he told the Irish Times.
“So the only thing I can put it down to is nerves in the first half. We’d 13 or 14 balls into our full-forward line, and got something off three. That’s not good enough at this level.”
And it wasn’t. But the game, their worst Championship defeat to Kerry, would play a massive role in the rebuilding process the Dublin panel went under. In 2010 they lost to Meath in the Leinster Semi Finals and had to travel the longer route back into the All Ireland Series. They saw off Tipperary, Armagh and Louth before facing, and beating, Ulster Champions Tyrone in the Quarter Finals. Sadly they came up one score short of Cork in the Semi Finals. But it was an improvement.
But it was 2011 that put Dublin Football back on the map. Quite a close Leinster Semi Final and Final saw Dublin recapture the Leinster Championship, one which they haven’t let out of their grasp since. They once again did battle with Tyrone in the All Ireland Quarter Finals, and were again successful. Their Semi Final against Donegal is still spoken of as one of the strangest games in Championship history with a horrible final score of 0-08 to 0-06 in favour of the boys in blue. And of course there’s not a football fan in the world that doesn’t remember the final chapter against Kerry in this year’s story. Dublin’s first All Ireland Final appearance and victory in 16 years.
What’s important to note in this seven year Quarter Final run is Dublin’s defensive record. We can all stand in awe of the 8-125 that they’ve amassed in seven Quarter Finals, but to only concede 3 goals is quite an achievement at the heavy end of the Championship for any team.
In 2015 Fermanagh were losing Ulster Semi Finalists and entered Round 2 of the Championship Qualifiers not given much chance. They saw off Antrim, Roscommon and Westmeath to set up a mouth watering Quarter Final tie against the Dubs.
The game will be remembered for Fermanagh’s Sean Quigley knocking Stephen Cluxton over his own goal line in possession of the ball to raise a green flag that afternoon, but the brave Ulster outfit managed to score 2 goals, despite it not being enough to steal the victory.
Last year Donegal’s Ryan McHugh shook the nerves of the Dublin supporters palming the ball past Cluxton into the Dublin net, Eoin O’Gara and Diarmuid Connolly saw red, but thanks to Paul Mannion’s additional time goal, Dublin once again prevailed.
Saturday week, Dublin once again go in search of their holy grail, and once again will be facing Ulster opponents in the Quarter Finals, as Armagh, Monaghan or Down will be drawn against them.
In the past seven years Ulster has dominated as the Leinster Champions’ opposition; Tyrone twice, Monaghan, Fermanagh and Donegal. Cork and Laois have also had the pleasure.
Dublin’s biggest win was by 17 points when they beat Monaghan 2-22 to 0-11 in 2014. Laois lost by the smallest margin in 2012, 1-12 to 0-12.
On August 5th, will an eight Quarter Final victory be added to this list? We’ll have to wait and see.
QUARTER-FINALS SINCE 2009
2010: Dublin 1-15 Tyrone 0-13
2011: Dublin 0-22 Tyrone 0-15
2012: Dublin 1-12 Laois 0-12
2013: Dublin 1-16 Cork 0-14
2014: Dublin 2-22 Monaghan 0-11
2015: Dublin 2-23 Fermanagh 2-15
2016: Dublin 1-15 Donegal 1-10