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The Most Agonising Late Misses In GAA History

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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The horror, the horror. Colonel Kurtz said it best.

The emphasis here is not on bad misses (though a couple of them would be classed as bad misses) but on costly, agonising misses.

Dessie Dolan

Meath v Westmeath, 2003 Leinster quarter-final

Probably the most agonising miss of them all. Westmeath had never beaten Meath in the championship and Dolan had a kick to win it.

Dessie spoke about the awful aftermath of the miss on our podcast, 'The Hard Shoulder' this summer.

It wasn’t easy to deal with it, it was tough. It meant an awful lot to an awful lot of people to beat Meath and I’d had the ideal opportunity to do it. So I was receiving things like hate mail. I was only 22 or 23.

My parents were trying to safeguard me against different things. It wasn’t nice. But how do you deal with that? How do you deal with something like that when you’re young? I had psychologists ringing me but here you are, just a footballer, trying to deal with a big miss like that. Did it hurt, yeah? It’s not something I’d be proud of either. It still follows me around. For all the good stuff that you’d do, there is still people (that mention it).

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John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer

Kilkenny v Tipperary, 2014 All-Ireland Final



This is no catalogue of easy chances but of agonising misses. Bubbles was on fire in the drawn All-Ireland final last year.

After Barry Kelly penalised Brian Hogan for charging into the Tipperary half back line, Dwyer stood over a mammoth free from inside his own half. In the context of the game, it seemed reasonable to think he'd score.


No one had hit a wide in 28 minutes. It looked like Bubbles had hit it over. The umpires decided they didn't want to be the ones making the call and we put our faith in technology.

In Hill 16, Tipperary supporters fell into breathless laughter at the absurd drama of it all. Kilkenny supporters simply looked distressed.

In the end, hawkeye gave them a reprieve.


Charlie Redmond 

Down v Dublin, 1994 All-Ireland Final

Before their catharsis in 1995, the Dubs endured a half-decade of chastening losses and costly misses. Charlie Redmond was responsible for a couple of those misses.

Down won their second All-Ireland title in four years on a miserable, soggy day in front of a half-built Cusack Stand. Redmond had already missed a penalty in an All-Ireland final against Donegal in 1992. However, that miss occurred early in the game and there was plenty of time to recover.


It was a different story two years later. Redmond's penalty chance arrived late in the game with the Dubs desperately chasing a goal. He hit it straight at Neil Collins and from the rebound somehow booted the ball the wrong side of the post.

Conor Mortimer

Mayo v Galway, 2002 Connacht semi-final


During Pat Holmes almost forgotten first spell in charge of Mayo, Galway were emphatically in the driving seat in Connacht.

The All-Ireland champions gave a sheepish display in Castlebar in which they went behind early. However, they reeled in Mayo and the game was level heading into the final minutes.

Mayo, who hadn't scored for half an hour, won a straightforward free as the game crept into injury time. A youthful Conor Mortimer stood poised with the ball in hand. Send it over and it was a Mayo victory. Galway supporters were resigned to defeat but Mortimer sent the ball sliding wide.

To make things worse, Galway worked the ball up in the pitch and Padraic Joyce slipped over a much more difficult free from wide on the left.

Ray Cosgrove


Armagh v Dublin, 2002 All-Ireland semi-final


Though he was around the Dublin panel for a decade, Cosgrove is primarily remembered for his hot streak in 2002.

After they scraped over the line to win the All-Ireland in 1995, their manager Pat O'Neill left and Mickey Whelan arrived. His appetite for change managed to alienate the elder statesmen of the Dublin panel.

Dublin stepped into the (relative) wilderness until the turn of the decade. It's hard to believe from this remove but it wasn't until 2002 that they reclaimed the Leinster title.

It was Tommy Lyons first year as manager and Cosgrove was the emblematic star of the season, scoring heavily and winning an All-Star.

However, the year ended painfully for Cosgrove. On a blindingly sunny day in Croker, Dublin duelled with a ferociously competitive Armagh team.

Cosgrove stood over a free in front of Hill 16 in injury time. Put it over and the Dubs would earn a replay. The ball rebounded off the post and the referee blew it up.

Robert Kelly

Down v Kildare, 2010 All-Ireland semi-final

One that belongs in the Bubbles category rather than the 'outrageous miss' category. The surprise heavy 2010 season produced an unusual semi-final pairing in Down and Kildare.

Kildare had been rapping on the door of a semi-final for a couple of seasons but Down, in typical fashion, had come from nowhere to beat Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Aided by a contentious goal from Benny Coulter, Down led by five points at half-time. Kildare diligently battled their way through the second half to force a grandstand finale.

Deep in injury time, Johnny Doyle made an inspirational catch in midfield. He slipped the ball into the tricky James Kavanagh. He was fouled and passed quickly to David Lyons who drop-kicked a shot goalwards. The shot was blocked and in the scrum afterwards, McEnaney threw the ball up. Kildare won the throw in and manufactured a 13 metre free. John Doyle handed the ball to Robert Kelly.

Kelly hit a stinger of a shot which beat the army of blockers on the line but it whacked off the crossbar and Down forced the ball clear.

Ken McGrath

Toomevara v Mount Sion, 2004 Munster Club Final


Ken McGrath hit 1-6 and won Man of the Match in the 2004 Munster club final. It was a low scoring game in Walsh Park against Toomevara.

Mount Sion were in control for much of the game. They led 1-13 to 0-10 with twenty minutes left, a comfy lead in game so light on scoring. They rested on that comfy lead.

Their collapse was such that Toomevara spurned four goal chances before Willie Ryan blocked the ball into the net after goalkeeper Ian O'Regan turned towards his own goal to clear the ball. John O'Brien eventually Toomevara into the lead.

Late in the game, Mount Sion had a chance of a reprieve. They won a free straight in front of the posts. Up stepped the All-Star hurler who had been primarily responsible for their earlier dominance.

I stepped up to hit it and I was confident I'd put it over. I thought it had crept over but it drifted just wide.

Read more: 'Where Do You Start With That?' Lar Corbett Hits Back At Recent Criticism From Babs Keating






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