The 1991 Dublin v Meath Four Game Saga Captivated Not Only The Two Counties But The Entire Country
In this weeks edition of Through The Championship Years it’s a look back at the Leinster Championship first round Dublin v Meath game in 1991.
It was a different world back then, they were the days before home broadband, Google, mobile phones and cellular networks, Facebook, MP3’s, backdoors/qualifiers, blanket defences, strength and conditioning programs and it’s all about the group quotes.
They were the days of hard hits and raw physicality, compared to today’s game a lot of the hits came with an x-rating and every match programme had that famous super-sub An Other named at corner forward.
There has been a lot of talk this week about the low attendance numbers expected at this afternoon’s Leinster Final. Things were even more bleak in 1991, the Leinster council was in trouble with finances and word was they couldn’t furnish the loan on their spanking new offices and were likely going to sell the building.
All that changed over the next number of weeks as Dublin and Meath captivated not only those in their own counties but around the country as they slugged it out over four games.
The 1991 Dublin v Meath clash was front page news even before a ball was kicked in anger. Both teams had contested the previous five finals, but in 91 the Leinster council introduced an open draw and both teams were paired together in round one.
With the competition pure knockout and the only backdoor to be found was in the pubs surrounding Croke Park, one of the teams was looking at a very sort summer and championship campaign.
What transpired over those captivating drama filled weeks of the four game saga still lives long in the memory. It produced the first million pound gate in the history of the GAA which in turn allowed the Leinster council to pay off the loan on their offices.
It’s generally perceived that Dublin played the better football over the four games and in three of the four games built up leads of five points or more. But Paddy Cullens men just couldn’t land the killer blow and extinguish Sean Boylan’s Meath teams never say die attitude and refusal to be beaten.
The Dubs played their best football in game four but still couldn’t bury the Meath team into the ground.
Dublin led by six in the second half but a Brian Stafford goal gave Meath a glimmer of hope, but they looked out on their feet in the final quarter of the game and with nine minutes left and with Dublin leading by three the Sky Blues were awarded a penalty- was this the chance to finally put the final nail in the Royal County coffin?
Upped stepped Keith Barr, but as he ran towards the ball Meath full back Mick Lyons ran beside him and Barr drilled the ball just wide of the post.
The penalty should have been retaken but instead a goal kick was awarded to the dismay of the blue hordes around the ground.
Still with time almost up and still holding a three point lead it looked like Dublin would claim the win. But that Meath’s teams never say die attitude pulled the game out of the fire.
Meath worked the ball down field and the most unlikely hero in the shape of Kevin Foley finished the move to the back of the net to draw the team’s level. It was Foley first ever score at either inter-county or club level.
The game looked to be heading for extra-time for the third game in a row but Meath won the subsequent kick-out, worked the ball forward to David Beggy who kicked the winning point.
Dublin had one last chance to draw level with a difficult free into the breeze about 55 yards out. Jack Sheedy gave it His all but it curled to the left and wide.
The whistle went and players and supporters slumped from exhaustion both physically and emotionally and the never to be forgotten Dublin v Meath four game saga came to an end.
Mandatory Image Credit: Inpho