Here's four of our sports writers’ favourite Championship moments ...
Tipp’s off-broadway win
New members of the Tipperary football fans brigade will point to the win over Galway as the team’s greatest day but their loveliest, most poignant came on a July Saturday evening in Cavan.
The true supporters, who the players know by name, or at least by face, numbered a few hundred. And how their smiles beamed after seeing off Derry.
For many, a journey of three hours-plus home faced them but it seemed as if every man, woman and child were reluctant to leave the Breffni Park field as they basked in the afterglow of a most famous victory.
As the Tipperary players warmed down close to their gaggle of family, friends and familiars, one voice within their circle piped up and exposed his inner Kieran Donaghy. “What do you think of that, Joe Brolly?”, much to the delight of his colleagues.
The camp perceived that Brolly had slighted them in RTÉ’s coverage of the Munster final. Brolly denied he had but it didn’t matter — Tipperary had the last word.
The hope is that evening along with the subsequent All-Ireland quarter-final win over Galway and the valiant showing against Mayo will catalyse a movement behind Tipperary football and see their follower numbers swell.
But for one special evening, the intimacy of the faithful was cherished and their loyalty celebrated.
Where it all began
Mid-May, asphalt shimmering on the open road. Fresh coffee in the holder and a train of tunes at the ready.
It’s a glorious Saturday morning and there’s a double-bill of championship football at the end of it. This is livin’.
There were considerably bigger games to be played than Laois-Wicklow and Louth-Carlow over the summer but no feeling matched that moment, that sense of anticipation as another summer dawned in all its wondrous promise.
What was to come that afternoon didn’t actually matter at that point. This was the championship unsullied. Regrets were as yet unlodged, repercussions theoretical. Spring was a footnote regardless whether it delivered trophies, promotion or relegation.
As it happened, eight goals and 69 points followed in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise as four teams went about their entertaining business which they and everyone else knew would end long before September and the steps of the Hogan Stand.
When Tipp kicked against history
As the clock entered the red in Thurles on the Sunday afternoon of June 12, one sensed that the Tipperary footballers had blown their chance.
The men of 1944 would have to wait at least 12 more months to be replaced as the last Tipperary side to overcome Cork in the football championship. Liam Kearns’ side had built up a 3-13 to 1-10 lead by the 61st minute.
By the 70th minute, it was level — Cork kicking 1-6 without reply in nine minutes to roar back into proceedings. This contest was heading in only one direction; a Cork victory. That it didn’t materialise would become the opening chapter in a glorious summer for Tipperary.
Kevin O’Halloran kicked two injury-time points to seal a famous Tipp victory and the only pity is there wasn’t more present to witness it than the paltry crowd of 2,734 who paid in.
The end of an odyssey
As a Galway supporter, losing heavily to Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final was not too pleasant.
However, my highlight of the season thus far, was seeing the Tipperary supporters giving their team a deserved standing ovation as they left the arena at Croke Park after their All-Ireland semi-final defeat against Mayo.
Sport should move us. It should make us laugh or cry. And I was genuinely emotional after seeing that moment from the Hogan Stand. I had a lump in my throat watching it and thought it was fantastic that so many Tipperary people had come up to headquarters to support their footballers, even though they would be normally small ball fans.
Tipperary were the football team of the year in many ways and it was great to see the likes of Quinlivan, Sweeney, Comerford and Acheson and the entire squad get two days of championship action in Croke Park.
That few moments as the Tipp team walked off the field, defeated, and yet proud, listening to the applause of their fans ringing in their ears was my favourite championship moment.
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