An All-Ireland football final for the ages ----One of the greatest games as Dublin defeat Kerry
Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 05:24 PM
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I have just witnessed one of the greatest sporting occasions I have seen and I have witnessed Olympics, World Cups, Super Bowls in my time.
This event was all the more remarkable because it was a game played by total amateurs, who were not compensated a penny for their endeavors.
I am referring to the All Ireland football final played in Dublin's Croke Park between age-old rivals Kerry and Dublin with 'the Dubs' victorious by a single point 1-12 to 1-11.
Over 80,000 were on hand to witness the latest chapter in Ireland's anceint game, often described as a cross between rugby and soccer.
Actually. it is an amazing game in its own right.
All 32 counties in Ireland participate as well as a team from London and one from New York and all the players have day jobs, but train and play like highly prized professionals.
At stake is the pride of the county, the town, and the local village even.
Think texas high school football in terms of the ferocity and pride in the local place
It is sport at its finest a billion light years away from the pampered super millionaires of soccer, baseball and football.
Dublin finally win the All-Ireland title thanks to last minute point from goalkeeper
Here there are no gleaming Mercedes driven by the players, no WAGS, women who stalk the top players looking to make a kill.
Rather there is a homespun reality that is as beguiling as it is appealing.
The hero of the day for Dublin, the goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton who ran almost the entire length of the field in order to kick the winning point from a free.
He is so camera shy that he refused to appear for the after-match presentation of the cup and just quietly went the dressing room.
By day he is a schoolteacher and will be back in his classroom this week.
His insistence on anonymity is as rare as a hen's tooth in an era of ego inflated super stars.
The battle rolled on for seventy minutes in Dublin on Sunday. Dublin and Kerry are the polar opposites. In the blue corner, Dublin, are the city team, with fanatical followers who follow the team to every corner of Ireland.
In the green and gold corner Kerry, the rural champions, 'culchies' in the vernacular, playing 'the Jacks' as the Dubs are dubbed.
At stake was county pride but also something deeper for Ireland.
At a time of deep national trauma with institutions such as banks and Catholic Church exploding in pieces, the GAA, Ireland's leading sporting organization has become a touchstone of Irish society.
The organization is widely praised for it involvement in every aspect of Irish life, helping young children become athletes and better citizens and providing a focus for millions all over Ireland.
The game yesterday was broadcast all over the world to expatriates everywhere from Sydney to New York.
It was a marvelous occasion , one the Irish diaspora felt part of and an example of the greatness of the Irish heritage and spirit.
A day to remember for sure.
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