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Echoes Of 2013 Ring Around Kerry's All-Ireland Final Destiny

Echoes Of 2013 Ring Around Kerry's All-Ireland Final Destiny
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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The Hill erupted, and Croke Park shuddered under the weight of half its 81,000 strong crowd rising to their feet in elation, as Kevin McManamon danced through the Kerry defence and ruthlessly finished the ball into the net under the sea of blue on Hill 16.

No, this was not September 18 2011. In fact, it was almost two full years later, on the 1st of September on a scorching hot semi-final day at Croke Park.

Yet again, Dublin played Kerry in Croke Park and, yet again, Kevin McManamon was the man who ignited the Dubs' charge, as they marched on to their second All-Ireland final in three years.

Three weeks later they would come out victorious against Mayo, to claim the first All-Ireland of the Jim Gavin era. When the counties met in that 2013 semi-final, the All-Ireland tally sat at Kerry 36-Dublin 23. It has changed somehwat in the decade since.

Ten years on, as they prepare to meet in an All-Ireland final for the 15th time, it is hard not to find parallels between the two counties' fortunes in 2023 and in that fateful semi-final meeting of 2013.

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GAA: Shades of 2013 about this mouthwatering All-Ireland final

Dublin's victory over Kerry in the 2011 All-Ireland final is widely regarded as the moment that kickstarted the Dublin juggernaut of the 2010s, and with good reason. Cluxton's free, the McManamon goal, Bryan Cullen inviting the wider population of the capital to the after session in Coppers - for Dublin supporters, the first All-Ireland crown in 16 years could hardly have come in more memorable fashion.



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And the fact that it was done against the Kingdom will only have put the cherry on the icing on the cake.

This is, after all, the most storied rivalry in the GAA - well, certainly in Gaelic football - and at the turn of the century the balance of power shifted once again ruthlessly into the hands of Kerry.


Quarter-final victories over the Dubs in 2001 and 2004, and a semi-final triumph in 2007, preceded what was to become arguably the darkest hour of the modern era for Dublin, when Kerry laid waste to them by 17 points in the 2009 quarter-final.

3 August 2009; Colm Cooper, Kerry, celebrates after scoring his side's goal past Stephen Cluxton, Dublin. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

All that meant that, when the counties met in 2011, Kerry had won out on the previous eight occasions the counties were drawn against each other in the championship - and it had been 34 years since the Dubs had last tasted victory against their most famed rivals.

2011, then, was getting this Dublin team over the line. Despite Dublin looking to be the stronger team on paper, the All-Ireland winning experience of the Kerry team (they had triumphed in 2000, '04, '06, '07, and '09), combined with the memory of that desperate 2009 defeat, meant that the Kingdom were understandably still favourites going in.

That Dublin won out in the dramatic fashion that they did made it all the more memorable for Pat Gilroy's side, and for the first time in decades the balance of power looked to be slowly tipping back in Dublin's favour.


1 September 2013; The Dublin team during the National Anthem. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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The real test, then, was 2013. They had done it once against Kerry, but could they prove that this wasn't a fluke? That this Kerry team were faltering, that Dublin were the new star show in town, and that Sam Maguire could start to prepare for regular residence in the capital for the years to come?

The 2011 final, though gripping in a manner Dublin v Kerry had not quite been for several years, had perhaps not been the most skilful or pure match the teams had ever played. 2013, by contrast, was utterly compelling for its twists and turns, its moments of brilliance - the passes provided by Colm Cooper for James O'Donoghue's and Donnchadh Walsh's early goals are still two of the finest things the Gooch ever did on the Croke Park pitch.


Kerry looked to have raced away with it early on, as Dublin wasted several goal chances while the Kingdom made the most of not only their ruthless attack but also the sloppiness of some of Dublin's defending. After 11 minutes it was 2-02 to 0-03 for Kerry, and it looked as though Dublin's woes in this tête-à-tête were to continue.

But the tone of Dublin's response was set when Paul Mannion punched in the third goal of the opening stages just a minute later, after a similarly stunning pass from Diarmuid Connolly in the build up.

There was simply too much drama and quality on show to do justice to but, if any moment defined this clash of the century, it was the goal from Kevin McManamon with just a minute to go which finally gave Dublin a decisive lead (of three points).

(The goal comes at the 18:50 mark of the below video)


It mightn't quite have matched the fervour which met his strike against the same opposition in the 2011 final, but Croke Park did erupt in almost the same manner when the St. Jude's man calmly put the ball in the Kerry net in front of the Hill once again.

"It's going to be a Kerry ball, is it? Michael Darragh Macauley - brilliant! Here's Kevin McManamon, memories of 2011 as he bursts through - McManamon still going!" - Darragh Maloney on commentary

McManamon's goal was what tipped the scales in Dublin's favour - not only for 2013, but for the near-decade that followed. The sides would meet again in the 2015 All-Ireland final, the 2016 semi-final, and the 2019 final. Though Kerry forced a replay in 2019, it was Dublin who came out on top on each occasion. Much like Kerry's monopoly of the 2000s, there was little in the way of diversity about the results of this rivalry in the 2010s.

Dublin managed to go not one but two better than Kerry's four-in-a-row of the 20th century, winning a six-in-a-row which began with that 2015 victory over Kerry.

But last year's semi-final could yet prove to be Kerry's "2011." That famous Cluxton winner has its equivalent in Sean O'Shea's last-gasp winner, both immortal in their respective counties' modern histories.

10 July 2022; Seán O'Shea of Kerry and his team mates Killian Spillane, left, and Adrian Spillane celebrate as referee Paddy Neilan blows the full time whistle to end the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

READ HERE: The Gaelic Football Team Of The Year Without Dublin And Kerry Players

The similarities of 2011 and 2022 (albeit with the roles reversed) are bizarrely striking. In 2011, a young Dublin team featuring a smattering of players who had suffered defeat to Kerry in '09 bravely held on to seal a win by a point with a last-gasp free. They possessed arguably the best young full-forward in the country at the time in Bernard Brogan, and it marked the first time in eight championship meetings that they had come out on top against Kerry.

In 2022, a young Kerry team - featuring a collection of stars who had been runners-up to Dublin in 2019 - bravely held on to seal a win by a point with a last-gasp free. They possessed arguably the best full-forward in the country at the time in David Clifford, and it marked the first time in six championship meetings that they had come out on top against Kerry.

So, will this year be 2013, again with the roles reversed? Kerry have proven that they can get the better of this relentless Dublin team - but can they do it again? Or can the likes of Cluxton, James McCarthy, Mick Fitzsimons, and all those who were crucial to the six-in-a-row stop the Kingdom one last time?

It's a curious twist of fate that we have such a brilliantly similar setup, a decade on from the highest-scoring championship meeting these sides have ever produced. Just as there were questions about this Dublin team in 2013 and whether they were capable of sticking around at the top, some have raised doubts as to whether Kerry truly are "here to stay," despite their brilliance.

Dublin or Kerry? No matter who you ask, you're unlikely to get the same prediction from two punters in a row, in one of the closest set-ups for a final in years.

2013 is rightly regarded as an all-time classic. If we reach anywhere close to that level in Sunday's All-Ireland final, we're in for a treat, in this mouthwatering clash of footballing superpowers.

Bring it on.

SEE ALSO: Pat Spillane Throws Hilarious Dig At Joe Brolly Over RTÉ Departure

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