Are the five-time All-Ireland winners, Dublin, the best? What about historic winners, Wexford and Kerry? A new book helps fans decide.

The current Dublin team is the only side to win five All-Irelands in a row in the men’s Senior Football Championship. That’s on top of nine Leinster titles in a row (and 14 in 15 years). And six or seven All-Stars in each of the last five seasons. And six of the last ten Footballers of the Year. The accolades just keep coming.

They may be the most successful team but are they the greatest Gaelic football team ever? If measuring by success, counties like Wexford and Kerry have also won four All-Irelands in-a-row. Other counties have had to beat a more competitive field to win. So how do you work out which team was the greatest?

Well, now you can decide for yourself as a book that has just been published with a complete record for every game in every year of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. That’s a total of 4,400 games since 1887 covering everything from the Cork v Kerry game in 1890 which ended with no score to Dublin’s 10-13 to 3-8 win over Longford in 1960. The book includes an introduction to the history of the championship and looks at overall patterns down through the years. It also includes records by county.

In only nine of the one hundred and thirty-three championship seasons did every county in Ireland participate. Since 1975 a team representing London has entered the Connacht Championship. There had been various experiments with a London team in the All-Ireland Championships between 1900 and 1914. This was sometimes billed as the 'Champions of Ireland' versus the 'Champions of England' or else a London team had played off for a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals with the Irish provincial championship winners or a team representing the GAA in Scotland. In that early stage, London failed to win a game other than a walkover against Scottish teams.

A team representing the GAA in New York has also participated in the Connacht Senior Football Championship since 1999 and, despite some close encounters, has yet to register a win. There had been a proposal to include a team representing Irish-America in the 1908 All-Ireland Championship. That year the winner from the four Irish provinces met the winner of a play-off between the English and Scottish champions. It had been hoped to have the winner of that gameplay a team representing ‘Irish America’ but it never came to pass. The second All-Ireland Championship, in 1888, had not been completed as the GAA had embarked on an American tour. Gaelic football was reportedly an unofficial demonstration sport at the St Louis Olympics in 1904 and was very popular among Irish communities around the United States.

North America also has a much richer collection of early depictions of Gaelic football from the 1880s to the 1900s than is found in the Irish press from the time. This includes cartoons and photographs showing action from games such as the one below (from New York, published in the Evening Journal on 18 Sept 1909.

Gaelic football in Celtic Park, New York. Evening Journal, 18 Sept 1907.

Gaelic football in Celtic Park, New York. Evening Journal, 18 Sept 1907.

 

And also a wealth of photographs of Gaelic football teams.

Robert Emmets, Syracuse Herald 26 July 1908

Robert Emmets, Syracuse Herald 26 July 1908

Wolfe Tones, Anaconda Standard, 20 May 1909

Wolfe Tones, Anaconda Standard, 20 May 1909

Rovers, Natick, Boston Globe, 24 Nov 1903

Rovers, Natick, Boston Globe, 24 Nov 1903

You can find out more about The Complete All-Ireland Senior Football Championship 1887-2019 in the video below or here. The book can be ordered directly from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.

Licensed from Sportsfile/Ramsey Cardey by Litter PressDublin v Kerry, 2015