Now that the All-Ireland championship is done and dusted, Niall Gartland ranks the top ten scores from the championship, including the provincial series and Tailteann Cup
1 Sean O’Shea’s winning free against Dublin
NOT only the most significant score of this year’s championship, but one that could see a seismic shift in the balance of power between the leading contenders for Sam. Yes, Kerry were guaranteed two periods of extra-time no matter what happened, but they had already relinquished a six-point lead against Dublin and were in danger of another major championship disappointment. Seanie O’Shea was faced with a 55-metre free-kick into Hill 16 in unfavourable wind conditions. However, he measured his kick to perfection to silence the Dubs and send Kerry in the All-Ireland final. A special moment that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
2 Rian O’Neill’s magnificent leveller against Galway
BALLS of brass from the Crossmaglen man. He had no option but to nail an exceptionally difficult free with the last play of the game against Galway. Stationed on the left flank and probably at least 55 metres by the crow flies, O’Neill showed unbelievable nerve to send a madcap All-Ireland quarter-final into extra-time. Even though Armagh ended up losing on penalties, it was one of the stand-out moments of the decade so far.
3 Shane Walsh second point from play against Kerry
WALSH scored four points from play in the All-Ireland final against Kerry, all of them absolutely beautiful efforts from a gifted footballer. The pick of the bunch? It’s genuinely very hard to choose, but we’ll go for his second point early in the first-half, when he ghosted between two Kerry defenders before curling over a beautiful point from distance. When it went sailing between the posts, you just knew he was in for one hell of a game.
4 Cormac Costello’s goal against Kerry
KERRY only conceded two goals from play all year, one of which was a remarkable effort from Cormac Costello to light the fire on an impressive Dublin comeback. It looked like Kerry had their bases covered, but Costello elected not to take his point and with hardly any space to operate, fired home an inch-perfect shot to the corner of the net.
5 Rory Grugan blasts home against Donegal
TALK about making an impact – Armagh set the tone for a huge qualifier win over Donegal with a route-one goal after only 12 seconds. Rian O’Neill gained possession from the throw-in, and rather than hang around after being fouled, launched in a long ball which was caught by Rory Grugan, who turned immediately towards goal and unleashed an unstoppable shot to the top-right hand corner of the net. Shaun Patton is one of the best goalkeepers in the game but he didn’t stand a chance.
6 Damien Comer rubs salt in the wounds against Derry
IT just wasn’t Derry’s day. Comer, who wreaked havoc in the inside forward line, put the game to bed in the second-half after Derry goalkeeper Odhran Lynch lost possession a long way out from home. Galway ferried the ball up the field and Comer was the beneficiary as he goaled into an empty net from more than 30 yards out. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds and was effectively the insurance score for Galway.
7 Kieran Martin wins the Tailteann Cup for Westmeath
WHAT a goal. Kieran Martin effectively sealed the Tailteann Cup for Westmeath with a late goal against Cavan at Croke Park, slaloming through one Cavan defender after another before slotting the ball to the net. When he initially won possession, it didn’t look like Cavan were in any real danger, but he showed brilliant iniative and bundles of skill to breach the Cavan rearguard and score a remarkable individual goal.
8 Derry’s last point in the Ulster final
THIS was all about a lung-bursting run from Derry full-back Brendan Rogers, who put on the afterburners when he sensed things would open up for him. Gathering the ball on his own 45-metre line, he turned Michael Murphy, ran straight at the heart of the Donegal defence and eventually teed up Conor Glass for their final score of the game in injury time at the end of extra-time. Derry hung on for a famous victory.
9 David Clifford’s goal v Mayo
DAVID Clifford was supposed to be injured heading into Kerry’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo, and he did move rather gingerly at times on a rainy day at Croke Park. Did it stop him though? Not one bit as he scored a fine individual goal in the first-half, blasting home an unstoppable effort just when it looked like Mayo were making a game of it. He celebrated in an uncharacteristically cocky manner, as if to say ‘even when injured, I’m the best about.’
10 James McCarthy’s second-half point against Kerry
DESPITE a second-half goal from Cormac Costello, Kerry were keeping Dublin at arm’s length and led by three points heading into the final 10 minutes, Cometh the hour, cometh the man as James McCarthy planted a brilliant point from the wing while under severe pressure. McCarthy was inspirational throughout and his point seemed to spur on Dublin as they set up a grandstand finish.