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Kings Of The Hill - The Great Characters Of Hill 16

Kings Of The Hill - The Great Characters Of Hill 16
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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When the 70s era Dublin crew asserted that Hill 16 had never seen the likes of Heffo's Army, they got it wrong. The 1950s was the first time the Dublin supporters marked down their territory on that side of the ground. There are stories that stretch back well beyond the colour TV era which commenced in the early 70s.



The 1973 All-Ireland final. Cork played Galway in a startlingly high-scoring game. Cork won 3-17 to 2-13. The scoreline was partly made possible by the fact that games were 80 minutes then.

Jimmy Keaveney and Sean Doherty were working as stewards on Hill 16 that day. Despite having been inter-county footballers for a number of years - Keaveney since the mid-60s - they were little known in their own city. During 1974, Gay O'Driscoll's work colleagues were surprised to learn that he'd actually been playing for Dublin for a few years.

According to legend, the Dubs lost in the first round pretty much every year from 1966 to 1977. In fact, they did win the odd game, beating Westmeath in '72 and Wexford in '73. Other than that, they were beaten in their first match by Longford (twice in 1968 and 1970), Westmeath (1967) and Laois (1971). Kildare beat them in a couple of semi-finals.

They hung around long enough to see Billy Morgan lift Sam Maguire. Allowing himself a brief daydream, Doherty turned to Keaveney and said 'wouldn't it be great to be up there?'


But by that point, Keaveney's well of optimism had been drained by years and years of defeats and he gruffly advised Doherty to catch a hold of himself.

'Come on and we'll go to Meaghars for a pint', he said.





The summer of 1994 and Ireland are in the midst of a grand adventure in the USA. After a stunning win over Italy, their performances deteriorate, their momentum dribbles away, and they are eventually sent packing by the Dutch in the Round of 16.


Packie Bonner allowed a long-range Wim Jonk shot to squirm out of his grasp and into the corner, a goalkeeping howler which confirmed Ireland's exit.

Almost a month later, Meath's long-standing goalkeeper is brought out of retirement for the 1994 Leinster Final against the Dubs.

Meath won the League that year after a comprehensive victory over Armagh, celebrating in front of the cordoned off building site where the old Cusack Stand used to be.


But the Dubs were chasing All-Irelands.

In a tense, low-scoring game, Charlie Redmond curled in a long range free near the sideline under the Hogan Stand. It was well struck but didn't have the gas to clear the crossbar. Fortunately for the Dubs, McQuillan spilled the ball into the net. Cue delirium on the Hill. And the inevitable slagging.

"There's Only One Packie Bonner!, There's Only One Packie Bonner!" rang out on that Sunday evening. Dublin won the match by a point.



The dank concrete toilets that used to nestle in the back corner of the Hill, hugging against the Nally Stand, were a prized viewing spot for youngsters back in the day, provided you could get lifted onto the roof.


The late Davey Billings told the Irish Times about watching games while seated on the old toilets, legs dangling over the edge 'like being on top of the ski slope in Austria'.

I think the demise of the old concrete toilets on the hill was a bit sad. Watching Lar (Foley) playing full back from up there was an education in life. The view from that position was fantastic with your legs dangling over the edge just like being on the top of a ski slope in Austria. Dangerous but worth it. As kids we got lifted over the stiles and climbed up the steep steps to the hill and then made our way across to the concrete jacks. We'd get a hoosh up and we were in heaven watching the greats from all the counties. No prawn sandwiches there. I can still see Des Foley as clear as day in 1963 coming to the Hill with Sam. We could see over the barbed wire from the top of the jacks.



Dublin ended their Leinster championship famine (strange words to type) in 2002 with a two point win over Kildare. Provincial championship victories have been celebrated in a more muted fashion in recent times.

Despite beating Kildare that day, the Dublin fans were riled by a couple of decisions from Cork referee Michael Collins, the man who'd overseen the previous year's All-Ireland final.

After one decision went against the Dublin team, a cry of regret emanated from the Hill.

They shot the wrong Michael Collins...

Read more: The 7 Greatest Goals Ever Scored In Front Of Hill 16



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