“I’m curious,” Carroll began. “You’ve spent since January at the very least working like beasts and putting yourselves through all kinds of hassle: listening to Jim Gavin, obeying Jim Gavin, looking under the bed at night making sure Jim Gavin isn’t underneath. So it must be an amazing sense of release, at five o’clock on Sunday, when you’ve beaten poor Mayo again and won?”
“That’s a great Jim Gavin analogy,” the midfielder smiled.
There was a brief exchange about football – the backroom staff, his five Celtic crosses, the panic that set in when he misplaced them once – but the insight came when he started talking music. A basketball and hip-hop fan since boyhood, his bedroom walls were covered with posters of NBA stars and rappers. “Dublin footballers never made the cut,” he laughed.
Then the conversation turned to his admiration for Damien Dempsey.
“Damo is kind of marmite for people,” Macauley explained. “People hate him or love him, and a lot of that’s kind of down to whether you’re from Dublin (or not). This year was actually pretty special. He ended up becoming the soundtrack to the Dublin team – although I don’t know if I’m meant to say that – but he did.
“They brought us up to the Guinness (Storehouse) room, and Damo came in and played a special private set for us . . . and blew the socks off everyone . . . He was singing the songs and as he played you had the nicest Guinness in Dublin in your hand, the best background picture of Dublin you’ll have, and Mister Dublin is singing in front of you.
“We get a load of people who come in to sing us a tune, or give us a talk, but he was resoundingly the best person we’ve had, the most influential.”
We listened, and wondered: How does a singer from Donaghmede become the poster boy for the Dublin football team? It was time to make some calls:
Norman Allen was born in Aughrim Street on July 21, 1928. The son of a Meath father and a Roscommon mother, he grew up in Donnycarney, played hurling and football for Dublin and beat Christy Ring to Player of the Year in 1953. His son, James, is the Dublin physiotherapist.
John Behan went to his first All-Ireland in 1943. The son of an Offaly father and a Leitrim mother, he grew-up in Glasnevin, played football for CJ Kickhams, and was a founding member of Na Fianna. He’s also a brother-in-law of the late Kevin Heffernan.
Tommy Carr was 12 when Dublin won the All-Ireland in 1974 and made his debut under Heffernan 11 years later. His parents were both Tipperary and his brother, Declan, captained the Premier to the All-Ireland hurling title in 1991. Tommy won an All Star that year and spent four years as Dublin manager from 1997. His son, Simon, is one of Ireland’s best tennis players.
Ray Cosgrove grew-up in Rathfarnham. He was born six months before Dublin beat Kerry in the epic ’77 game and his parents are both Mayo. He played with Dublin for 12 years, was an All Star in 2002, and won an All-Ireland club title with Kilmacud Crokes in 2009. Yesterday, he lined out for the Dublin masters team in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone.
Neil Cotter is Head of News at The Irish Sun and the author of Dublin: The Chaos Years, one of the best sports books of 2018. A life-long Dublin fan, his parents were native Dubliners and he grew up in Glasnevin.
Eamon Dunphy is a former Ireland international, a best-selling author and one of our most celebrated journalists. The son of a Dublin father and a Limerick mother, he grew-up in Drumcondra and spent a chunk of his childhood watching hurling and football in Parnell Park.
Jimmy Gray was the Dublin goalkeeper in the (narrow) 1961 All-Ireland hurling final defeat to Tipperary. The son of Longford parents, he was raised in Drumcondra and was part of the Dublin football squad that lost to Kerry in 1955. A founder member of Na Fianna and a former chairman of Dublin County Board, he is best known as the man who brought Heffernan back in 1974.
Dermot Gilleece has been a journalist for six decades and is one of the world’s finest golf writers. The son of a Galway father and a Derry mother, he was born in Rathcoole and spent his formative years in Fairview where he was imbued with a love for Dublin and St Vincent’s.
The theme was simple: What does it mean to be Made in Dublin?
* * * * *
Paul Kimmage: Okay, so what we’re talking about here is mostly about identity but I’d like to start with music and song. Is there an essential Dublin anthem? An essential Dublin song?
Eamon Dunphy: Give us a break!
Dermot Gilleece: I suppose it has to be Molly Malone.
Neil Cotter: People hate it, but it’s Molly Malone.
Ray Cosgrove: I suppose Molly Malone would roll off the tongue.
Tommy Carr: I can’t think of it, but it’s one The Dubliners sang.
Dunphy: Molly Malone?
Carr: No, not Molly Malone . . . Dublin in the Rare Ould Times. There’s something sad and nostalgic about it. I can picture Dublin in the rare ould times when they sing that song.
Kimmage: I like the Rocky Road.
Gilleece: That’s an Eamon Dunphy invention.
Dunphy: It’s a country man’s song. It might even have been about the guys who went building roads in England.
Gilleece: I’ve never sung that thing.
Kimmage: Damien Dempsey does a great version with The Dubliners.
Dunphy: I like Damien. He’s a big fan of Luke (Kelly).
Gilleece: I was at a funeral in Dublin recently, and the person giving the eulogy spoke about the three major loyalties you had to have in life. The first was to your club – St Vincent’s; the second was to Luke Kelly; and the third was to your country. I’d be very much a Luke Kelly fan. But I’ve heard of Damien Dempsey.
Carr: Yeah, I listen to him.
Cotter: I’m a fan but – and I’m going to embarrass myself now – not as much as real Dubs are. I was at an event in Coppers about three years ago . . . I can’t remember what it was for . . . and all of the Dublin players were there. Damo was performing. I thought ‘Jesus Christ! I love this fella.’
Cosgrove: Damien has the accent, the Dublin ‘twang’.
Kimmage: “Whack follol de daaaaaaaaaaaaaah.”
* * * * *
1. True Blue
More than any other experience however, it was his time with St Vincent’s that formed Heffernan. Founded in a hall in Marino in 1931 as an outlet for people on the newly built estate, the club was soon drawing on one of the richest wells of juvenile talent in the country. And soon challenging the nature of Gaelic games in the city.
The sport had never been that popular with Dubliners who struggled to engage with a county team made up of players from the country, but Vincent’s would change all that. Their ambition was two-fold: to establish the club as a major force through the winning of championships, and to create a new ‘true blue’ code: Dublin born players for Dublin teams. By 1950 both objectives had been achieved.
Heffernan was a faithful disciple of the new superior race. A truly brilliant forward, he played on the first Vincent’s team to win a Dublin football championship in 1949 and the first hurling team to win a championship in 1953. The footballers would remain unbeaten for thirteen years. The hurlers would challenge and beat the great Glen Rovers.
In 1953, fourteen of the players who beat Cavan in the final of the National League were Vincent’s men. “Vincent’s first, Vincent’s last, Vincent’s always.” Winning was their creed.
Jimmy Gray: We lived close to Croke Park and when we were nippers, my mother and father used to bring us every Sunday there were matches. Then my mother would go home and my father and brother would walk to Parnell Park in the afternoon. So that’s where I got my association with the game.
John Behan: I don’t get too excited about the matches now but there was a time when you wouldn’t miss one. My first All-Ireland was in 1943, Cavan and Roscommon. I didn’t miss an All-Ireland until after the ’70s.
Norman Allen: I remember as a kid, running under the stile in Croke Park and up the banks to see (Dublin beat Galway in) the ’42 All Ireland . . . Bobby Beggs and Peter Wright and all these fellas. Most of the team were country guys, culchies, then Vincent’s came along and won our first championship, and changed the system.
Kimmage: Country guys were men who had come to Dublin for work?
Allen: Yeah. I’ve nothing against them. They were good GAA people, but they were playing for the wrong county. I mean, if you go back to the ’42 (hurling team), there was only one Dublin man on it. And you take pride in your county and the jersey you’re wearing.
Kimmage: And the country guys didn’t have pride in the Dublin jersey?
Gray (laughs): That’s a leading question, Paul.
Kimmage: I’m just curious about what the difference was.
Allen: I imagine the guys playing for Dublin would have loved to have been playing for their own counties and winning All-Irelands. That it would have meant more playing for your own county. The whole spirit of the GAA in Dublin changed when you had Dublin men, playing with their hearts and their souls for their own team.
Gray: I think Dubliners associate with Dublin through the football team, and to a certain extent the hurling team.
Cotter: I think the context of the word ‘Dub’ is the football team, and that started in the ’50s. Prior to that, it was a team of people living in Dublin who could have been from anywhere.
Kimmage: The 1955 All-Ireland final is often referred to as the cornerstone of Dublin football?
Allen: I would say it was.
Behan: I’d go back a little further and say that the kernel was the 1953 National League final when Dublin beat Cavan.
Allen: Well, it was the first National League that Dublin won and there were 14 Dublin-born players on the team. I was Man of the Match . . . Man of the Year (laughs).
Kimmage: But you missed the ’55 final with appendicitis?
Allen: Yes. They said I wasn’t fit to play but I maintained myself I was well able to play. I was back training but they wouldn’t chance me.
Kimmage: That final was also a significant date in the life of Kevin Heffernan.
Allen: Yeah, he never got over the ’55 defeat.
Gilleece: I don’t think any of us did, Norman. I was 15 at the time and was cut to the very core as a young Dublin supporter, and everywhere you turned it was devastation because of that defeat.
Dunphy: I was with my father and my brother, Kevin. We walked up to Fagan’s afterwards in mourning – up along Drumcondra road and past the Bishop’s place. Yeah, that was a bad day.
Behan: It was the expectation; Dublin were the team and nobody was going to stop them . . . so talk about the bursting of a balloon.
Gray: Well, we had hammered Meath in the Leinster final and when the final came along Norman was injured, and Mark Wilson was injured and Kevin played when he shouldn’t have played at all. It was the first time I ever saw a fellah getting an injection.
Allen: He got an injection into his ankle.
Gray: He shouldn’t have been playing.
Behan: Like everybody, you couldn’t believe what had happened. I remember being on the Canal End and looking up at the pitch. Cyril Freaney missed a chance and the crowd . . .
Gilleece: They gave Cyril a terrible time. He was made a scapegoat.
Gray: It was a disgrace.
Gilleece: I think the thing that got to Heffo – and it affected us all – was this belief that we had crossed the Rubicon. We were now capable of meeting and beating the best, and we met the best in Kerry and it was crushing.
Kimmage: Norman doesn’t look too crushed.
Allen: (laughs) What could I do? I was on my back a few weeks earlier being operated on!
Gilleece: You were probably more philosophical about it as a player, but I know as a supporter . . .
Allen: I had my own thoughts on the match.
Kimmage: Why did losing mean more to Heffernan than to you?
Allen: Well, maybe because I wasn’t playing. We played them the following May I think in Mitcham in London – same teams – and hammered them. John Joe Sheehan was centre forward for Kerry. He was a lovely player but he needed to be clattered, and that’s what I did (laughs). There was a greyhound track around the field and I remember burying him into the side. It was a different game back then.
Dunphy: There was a club called Faughs out there, a predominantly hurling club, and we’d go out there knowing they were going to beat the shite out of Vincent’s. My father was a gentleman but he’d get into fights on the touchline: “Ye fucking blackguards! Ye fucking blackguards.”
* * * * *
2. Mister Dublin
Heffernan’s depression would linger for the next two years. In 1956, Dublin were out of the championship before the Leinster final. A year later, they lost again in a spiritless performance against Louth. By the winter of ’57 Heffernan had just about had enough. Twenty eight years old, time was running out. He would be captain in ’58. Something had to be done.
A clip from an old All-Ireland final commentary kept playing in his head. Kerry playing Antrim. The voice of Micheal O’Hehir: “Now Antrim centre half-forward has the ball. He has gone ten . . . twenty . . . thirty yards. He has gone right through. Oh dear! Out goes the hand and down goes the man.”
Out goes the hand and down goes the man.
Out goes the hand and down goes the man.
Out goes the hand and down goes the man.
‘No,’ he thought. ‘Not anymore.’
Carr: My first time to pull on the Dublin jersey was before a match against Offaly in 1985. Kevin Heffernan was in the changing room. I was doing exams (for the army) at the time and remember going to see him. “Kevin, I’ve exams this week.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “That’s no problem, Tom, but if you want to make this team, you’ll be here on Friday night.” And that’s the way it was. There was no feely, touchy stuff with him. I nearly called him Mister Heffernan.
Behan: I was captain here (Clontarf Golf Club, where Heffernan also played) in 1987 and Heff asked if I would look after a team in Vincent’s. I had played all my football with Kickhams and Na Fianna but ended-up with Heff and Des Foley as a selector on the Vincent’s football team. He was an amazing man. There would be a meeting of selectors and Heff would take out his cigarette packet with the team written in the flap. “Is that all right lads?”
Cotter: I’ve read the book Heffo by Liam Hayes. I was down in Tralee – my wife is from Tralee – and it was the only ‘Dublin’ book available in the shop. I always used to think that the ’70s and Heffernan came out of nowhere, but it all started way back. He was driven by hurt, and there was a lot of hurt. It was his own personal mission to overcome Kerry.
Gray: My first memory of him is as an under 16. I was playing for Coláiste Mhuire, he was playing for Joey’s in Marino, and we used to get a bus to the matches in Islandbridge. Heff gets on and he’s sitting on his own. The next thing he takes out a packet of Sweet Afton and phhhh (mimics pulling on a cigarette) . . .
Allen: We went to school together and played hurling and football as under 14s in Marino. We were very friendly, very close, but how close? He always kept a natural reserve. He kept his cards close to his chest all his life.
Gilleece: Why do you think that was?
Allen: I don’t know. He was a very deep thinker.
Gilleece: Would it have anything to do with his father being a policeman?
Allen: Well, the funny thing is that his father never saw him play.
Behan: He saw him once. His father went to Croke Park once. He used to be on duty outside Croke Park – he was an inspector – but he wouldn’t cross the gate. He had no time for the GAA.
Kimmage: How did Kevin deal with that?
Behan: It was a fact, and he was never going to change it. His father was from Offaly, and there was a story that Offaly had tried to prevail on Heff to play for them: ‘Ahh well, your father was from Offaly.’ And it stirred a hornets’ nest in his mind, because he had no time for Offaly either.
Gray: I knew him for 60 years, Heff, and I didn’t really know him. He was very . . . secret, you know? Private.
Gilleece: Secret or private?
Gray: Private is probably the word.
Cosgrove: I met him a couple of times over the years but we wouldn’t have had a relationship. It was arms-length stuff: ‘There’s the Great Man there.’
Gilleece: He never trusted me because he knew I was a newspaperman. He was friendly, and he knew I was a Joey’s boy, but there was always a reserve when we would be talking about anything.
Dunphy: I sat beside him one night at a dinner. It was my first time to meet him and I was thrilled because he was a hero of my da’s.
Behan: I’d been going with Pauline for a couple of weeks when I met him for the first time. He used to ramble up to the house (Turlough Parade in Marino) to see how his folks were and I was there and was introduced to The Messiah.
Gilleece: Was ‘Heffo’s Army’ not the real start of the whole thing?
Allen: I think it started with our own club, Vincent’s, when people started following us.
Gray: The ’74 win was the start of it. I don’t think it’s possible to quantify what that ’70s team did for the GAA in Dublin. Soccer was taking over. I used to go to Liverpool a lot with my job, and you couldn’t get a berth on the B&I boat with the crowds going over to games in Liverpool and Manchester. And the crowds going to GAA matches weren’t great at the time.
Gilleece: You had fellows like John Giles and Tony Dunne and Noel Cantwell playing in England. These were really prominent players and we were totally caught up with them, and the GAA suffered, there’s no question, as a consequence. So they needed a Messiah, not just for Dublin but for the whole game.
Carr: I sometimes wonder was there nothing else in Dublin? It was just manic at the time. My father brought me to those games; I can still see the crackers going off on Hill 16. I think it was as close to a cult following as you could get in terms of the GAA . . . the mythical manager . . . this mythical team. All I ever wanted to do was to pull on a Dublin jersey.
Dunphy: My father worshipped Heffernan for bringing back (Jimmy) Keaveney, making them train, and putting a bit of steel into the Dublin team: ‘They won’t be beating the shite out of us anymore! Those fucking culchies!’
Gilleece: He became a national icon.
Gray: On the Monday night after the match in ’74 there was a (parade) through the city. We were coming down Grafton Street and there was an old man and woman, standing in a shop window holding hands, and there were tears flowing down both their faces. I got off the bus and went over to see them. They said they had been to a lot of games but had never seen Dublin win an All-Ireland final. It was very moving.
Cotter: The greatest Dub? It has to be Heffernan. The GAA grew with the city but it wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for him. He dragged an entire population into the sport that wasn’t there before, and kind of reinvented the way the game was played. But if he hadn’t, or hadn’t been there, where would Dublin be now?
* * * * *
3. Real Dubs
Native Dubliners, real Dubs, as they were called, were very unlike their country cousins. The differences were magnified among the less well-off and this was keenly felt, especially by my mother, who often spoke scornfully of Jackeens, as real Dubs were dismissively known to proud country people. Real Dubs were coarser. They ate processed foods from tins and packets. They couldn’t grow cabbages or spuds. They made nothing except noise.
‘The Rocky Road’
Kimmage: There’s a phrase that keeps coming up that I’d like to explore – real Dubs.
Gilleece: I’m not a real Dub.
Gray: Were you not born in Dublin?
Gilleece: I was born in Holles Street but was taken home to Rathcoole, so I wouldn’t have considered myself on a par with Norman as a true blue Dub in that I was from 10 miles outside the city. I consider this area here (Marino) as the geographical core of Dublin.
Gray: I would have had an association with Longford, both my parents were Longford people and we used to go down there on holiday. But I think (your identity) was formed basically through school and the ridicule Dublin people had to put up with if they were hammered – and they were often hammered in hurling – and the reaction to that.
Gilleece: The school was key, Jimmy.
Gray: It was, and the Christian Brothers in particular.
Gilleece: I went to Scoil Mhuire initially on Griffith Avenue, Brother McMahon, and I finished up going to Joey’s, and that really moulded you as a Dub, because you were automatically whipped into Vincent’s and the underage teams.
Cosgrove: One of my mentors, Martin Johnson, was a schoolteacher in St Benildus. It was only for him and Maurice McMahon – the playwright’s son – that I played Gaelic football. That’s when it all started for me. That’s when I became a Gael and not a soccer-head.
Cotter: I played all over the place when I was a kid . . . Na Fianna . . . Vincent’s . . . and ended up with Scoil Uí Chonaill in Clontarf for 20 years. But it wasn’t made up of lads from Clontarf, it was made up of lads from the inner city. I went to school in O’Connell’s and going there fostered this sense of Dubishness that you might not get anywhere else.
Kimmage: Are you a real Dub?
Cotter: I’m a moderate Dub, you’re a real Dub.
Kimmage: What’s a real Dub?
Carr: Real Dubs for me come from Finglas, James Street, the Liberties . . . from all those places. The Donnybrooks, the Foxrocks, they’re not real Dubs.
Dunphy: I never liked the ‘real Dublin’ shit. I always thought it was bollocks. Noel Pearson would start going on about the Liberties and I’d say: ‘Fuck you and the Liberties.’ There was this romanticisation of it. Jim Sheridan was the same.
Cotter: I’d say the vast majority of Dublin fans at matches are northside-salt-of-the-earth types. I went to Trinity College, and there was a lot of people there from Dublin, but there weren’t too many Dubs.
Kimmage: What’s the difference?
Cotter: I guess – and this will probably seem stupid in print – most of us have an accent. And most of the Dubs I know couldn’t give a toss about the (national) rugby team. It’s a chip. We’re driven by hurt. I think we rail against the perception that we’re somehow lesser Gaels because we don’t eat our dinner in the middle of the day. And it’s not only how our country cousins perceive us, it’s how the posh lads on the southside look at us as well.
Dunphy: That phrase ‘the Dubs’ – everything about it stinks, it really does. It’s driven me away from even following them. I hope Kerry beat them (laughs) – there’s a headline for you – it stinks. In the ’50s, when I was following them, and my da was following them, and Kevin, my late brother, was following them, there was no cult around ‘the Dubs’. There was no cult around ‘the Hill’. The only thing that was always in the air when you went to Croke Park was the history. This was authentically, a sacred Irish place.
Kimmage: What about ‘real Dubs’? Your mother had an interesting take?
Dunphy: Yeah, our house was in Richmond Road, opposite Tolka Park, and at the bottom of Richmond Road you came to Ballybough Bridge – it’s now the Luke Kelly bridge – and across that lied real Dublin. And that’s where real Dubs were. We were different, the country blood was there, and we had values.
Kimmage: So an element of class as well?
Dunphy: Oh very much so, a feeling that they were somehow . . . decadent. My mother was a fierce Republican – I’m named after Dev, and Kevin was named after Kevin Barry – and that’s another element of it. The real Dubs were anglophiles. They weren’t into the killing or the green jersey – and this is to their credit – they were non-sectarian. But of course that meant they weren’t real Irish. So there’s another layer there, watching muck, and consuming muck, and buying tabloid newspapers and all that shit. Attitudes towards England and playing the English game, and that’s where my mother’s incredulity never subsided when I went to play ‘English’ soccer. ‘Sure isn’t there football here!’ That’s exactly what she said.
Kimmage: How do you identify?
Dunphy: I identify strongly with working-class people and wouldn’t share my mother’s prejudices about them at all. I would identify as a working-class man and have an affection for Drumcondra. I’ve lived on the southside since I’ve come home but the northside is a more earthy place. As soon as you cross O’Connell Bridge you’re into something different.
* * * * *
4. Dubs (but not really)
Some of the players who came along after 1995 paint a bleak picture of the dressing room at the time, one bitterly divided between the All-Ireland winners and the rest; by club loyalties: and even by whether players were from the Northside or the Southside.
“Tommy (Carr) was a peculiar beast,” says one player from that time. “While he was from Dublin, he wasn’t really from Dublin because he was half-Tipperary, a culchie. That was highly unusual in Dublin at the time when you were either a Dub or you weren’t.”
‘Dublin: The Chaos Years’
Carr: My mother and father were from Tipperary. In 1960, my father had to leave the farm and move to Dublin, bad times etcetera, where he worked for 20 years and where myself and Declan were born. I joined the army, did a cadetship, and ended up playing for Tipperary for two years, but I’ve never actually lived there. I was stationed in Dublin and playing with Lucan Sarsfields but was told I’d have to join a senior club if I wanted to make the Dublin team. So I ended up in Ballymun Kickhams for 10 years.
Kimmage: So you’re born in Dublin, idolise the ’70s team but when you eventually play for Dublin you’re branded a culchie?
Carr: Yeah, when I was with Ballymun, John Kearns and Gerry Hargan used to slag me about it: ‘If he finds out you’re a culchie you’re gone.’
Carr: Yeah, and I was waiting for him. I knew it was coming. And then, one evening, he pulled me aside after training: “Come here, I want to have a little chat with you. Tell me about your heritage. I thought ‘Fuck! If he thinks I’m from Tipperary, I’m gone.’ So I told him and he says ‘That’s fine.’ But it put a thing in my head: ‘Everybody thinks I’m actually from Tipperary.’ And it was something I was really conscious of whenever I was interviewed: ‘No, no, I’m not from Tipperary.’ And I’m a bit ashamed of it, even to this day, because it must have come across that I wanted to disown my (roots), and I didn’t, I just wanted to make sure everybody knew I was a Dub.
Behan: I’m from Dublin, but I have an affinity for the provinces.
Cosgrove: I’m contaminated with a bit of Mayo blood, so I’m not true-blue to the core.
Carr: It was very northside/southside in my time.
Dunphy: The northside/southside thing is interesting.
Kimmage: Didn’t Keith Barr say that Southsiders go to games eating prawn sandwiches in Rolls Royce cars?
Cotter: That’s it. And Northsiders go with a can of Bulmers in a horse and cart.
Carr: Kilmacud Crokes embodied the Southside thing more than any other club.
Kimmage: Johnny Magee?
Carr: No, he’s a real Dub . . . Ray Cosgrove.
Cosgrove: When I got into the Dublin scene in ’96, I was coming into a dressing room with fellahs that had just won an All-Ireland – Keith Barr, Paddy Moran, Charlie Redmond – big physical guys, and predominantly Northsiders. I was the soft-spoken 19-year-old from the Southside and that took a bit of adapting.
Kimmage: Are you saying you weren’t embraced?
Cosgrove: Absolutely. When I walked into that dressing room, I had to earn the respect of these so-called Dublin heroes. Was it easy? Absolutely not. The phrase used at the time – and I’ll never forget it – was the revolving door: ‘We see them come, we’ll see them go.’
Kimmage: That was the view?
Kimmage: Here’s a quote from Neil’s book: “Kilmacud Crokes was blazing a trail on the fiercely contested club scene. Their emergence was a source of displeasure to some on the panel, previously dominated by traditional ‘Dub’ clubs – Ballymun Kickhams, Erin’s Isle, Na Fianna, and St Vincent’s. Crokes were seen in some quarters as posh, or even culchie.”
Cosgrove: Yeah, I could see where that point of view comes from. There would have been a cohort of outsiders, culchies, that were working in the area and had joined the club. Whereas if you looked at the Erin’s Isle team they were all hardcore Finglas.
Kimmage: Did you resent that?
Cosgrove: No. I was middle-class and soft-spoken and a little bit different than these hardcore Northsiders but I viewed myself as a Dub. I didn’t speak with a Dublin twang but I certainly knew my roots. Just because I come from the far side of the Liffey, that doesn’t make me any less a Dub than a fellah with a D11 or D13 postcode. Barrsy (Keith Barr) is no more a Dub than me because he has a harder accent. That’s a load of . . . as far as I’m concerned.
Kimmage: See? He’d say bollocks.
Cosgrove: [Laughs] Exactly.
* * * * *
5. Dublin V Kerry
Twenty-nine minutes still remaining in this game. Hallelujah!
Micheal O’Hehir commentating on the 1977 All-Ireland semi-final
Cotter: The funny thing about my dad was that he didn’t harp on about the ’70s. It was always about the current team. But we’d sit down and watch the ’77 game, the semi-final against Kerry, over and over again.
Dunphy: That was an awesome day. Two great teams. An extraordinary match.
Carr: My time playing with Dublin came on the back of the great Kerry team – their nearly five-in-a-row. So ringing in my ears as a Dublin footballer was ‘Fucking Kerry!’ These were the gods, these were the artists, and Dublin were just nipping at their heels. I don’t want to say I would have felt inhibited, or inferior to a Kerry footballer, but there would have been a feeling: ‘These are the kings.’
Cosgrove: They were the best team, the best players, who have ever played the game. I remember as a kid, my father taking me down to UCD to watch them training down there. They were bigger news than Heffo’s team. That’s where the rivalry stems from.
Carr: It has totally turned around. I think all the Dublin footballers now know, or feel – without being arrogant – that they are the kings, and that Kerry are coming to try and knock them off the throne. And if they do this five-in-row, it closes down any argument about who is the best team. This has never been done before.
Dunphy: These boys have earned their acclaim. Five-in-a-row is a considerable thing, but I think there’s a feeling, and I’ve spoken to a lot of former players, that the game is gone. Emigration has played a part, whole villages have gone, and more and more people have gravitated towards Dublin. So there’s not the same strength in depth. Now at the same time (Jim) Gavin, and before him (Pat) Gilroy have been doing things like pros. So you have to respect that, but not necessarily love it.
Cotter: For me, personally, the win in 2011 is the most important thing that Dublin have done in 20 years. I know everyone is talking about the five-in-a-row but it wouldn’t have happened without 2011. And the feeling, the joy in 2011 – other than getting married and having your child, it’s up there. I’m not sure – and I know there’ll be a massive cohort of Dublin fans who disagree with me – that if we win on Sunday we’ll get the same joy. It will be a case of mission accomplished, job achieved, go home. Back then it was from . . . another world.
Cosgrove: 2011 was the monkey off the back but I think Sunday would eclipse that. I’ll be far more excited on Sunday than I was in 2011. I’m going expecting, rather than hoping that they’ll win.
Carr: There are moments in sport that jump at you, or jump off the page, and 2011 was one. But there’s such an expectancy that Dublin will win now and we’re not even hyper about it. It’s going to happen. It can’t not happen. So I think the euphoria will be more long-term. I think it will be a stake in the history of football that will be forever there. And it won’t stop at five.
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