Feature: All things must pass

Dublin’s defeat to Galway had a real end of an era feel to it, and Niall Gartland looks back on the days other dynasties came to an abrupt end…

Tyrone 2012

KERRY celebrated like loons when they overcame Tyrone in a famous Qualifier clash in 2012, but by that stage Mickey Harte’s side were nowhere near the force of old. The team was already in the midst of transition at that stage – Ronan McNamee was handed the onerous task of marking Paul Galvin in what was his first ever appearance at senior intercounty level, while it was only Darren McCurry’s second outing in for Tyrone and he was kept quiet by the vastly experienced Marc Ó Sé.

A batch of Tyrone legends had already retired the previous year, including Philip Jordan, Brian Dooher and Kevin Hughes, and more retirements followed after their 10-point drubbing at the hands of Jack O’Connor’s Kerry. To their credit, Tyrone fared quite a bit better in 2013, making it to the All-Ireland semi-final stages where they lost out to Mayo. Lining out that day were Tyrone icons Conor Gormley and Stephen O’Neill, who decided to hang up the boots for good following their unexpected Qualifier defeat at home to Armagh in 2014.

Armagh 2007

YES, Armagh won the Ulster Championship in 2008 but it proved something of a false dawn as they were unceremoniously dumped out of the championship in the last eight by a Mattie Forde-inspired Wexford. A year beforehand their championship hopes came to a premature halt with a dour round one Qualifier defeat to Derry, prompting manager Joe Kernan to step down after a massively successful period in charge. Appointed in August 2001, Kernan led Armagh to their first ever All-Ireland SFC title in 2004 and added four Ulster SFC crowns and a National League title to the Orchard trophy cabinet during his time in charge.

He wasn’t the only big hitter to decide to call it a day – Kieran McGeeney mulled things over for a few months before deciding the time was right to call an end to what had been an illustrious county career. Armagh did tag on another Ulster title in 2008, but they needed a replay to get the better of Fermanagh and the intervening 16 years has been characterised by some bitterly disappointing defeats on Ulster final day and in All-Ireland quarter-finals, at least until last weekend where they bridged a 19-year gap by overcoming the Rossies in the last eight.

Kerry 1987

MICK O’Dwyer’s Kerry won eight All-Irelands between 1975 and 1986 but every dog has its day and they lost in a Munster final replay to their perennial rivals Cork in 1987. There was no disputing Cork’s supremacy on the day as they ran out 1-13 to 0-5 victors against a Kerry side littered with household names like Pat Spillane, Jack O’Shea, Mikey Sheehy, Eoin Liston, Páidí Ó Sé and Charlie Nelligan. By that stage, they had a lot of miles on the clock, Spillane had been ravaged by injury and they had nothing to prove to anybody, least of all themselves.

They didn’t all retire in one fell swoop – Sheehy, Páidí and Ogie Moran called it quits in ’87, Ger Lynch and Ger Power signed off in 1988, Charlie Nelligan and Pat Spillane at the end of 1991 but there’s no doubt that 1987 marked a seismic shift in the battle for supremacy in Munster with Cork enjoying a golden period for a number of years thereafter, winning back-to-back All-Irelands in 1989 and 1990.

Meath 2001

FEW would’ve imagined the rot that would set in following Meath’s humiliation of Kerry in the 2001 All-Ireland semi-final. Sean Boylan’s side crushed the Kingdom on a scoreline of 2-14 to 0-5 but they were stopped in their tracks in the final against Galway, with Padraic Joyce producing one of the all-time great performances on All-Ireland final day. With hindsight, their semi-final win over Kerry was a high water-mark for their side and they had to wait another nine wins to win so much as a Leinster title, a hugely controversial victory over Louth.

There isn’t one single explanatory reason for their downfall, but we note an extract from legendary defender Darren Fay in his 2013 autobiography, where he said that their 2001 win over Kerry was the beginning of the end – “With 10 minutes or so remaining this “Olé” started. Oh yeah, you could hear it on the pitch, sure the whole stadium nearly was doing it. It took the goodness out of it.


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