Irish Life

7 Of The Wettest Days In The History of Irish Sport

7 Of The Wettest Days In The History of Irish Sport

On the reasonable assumption that it is raining where you were, its surely time to cast a fond look back on the wettest days in Irish sport.

Here are seven of the finest. Let us know of any we missed and of any stories you have of playing on filthy wet days.

 

2008 All-Ireland quarter final - Kerry v Galway

A game that is recalled far more than the average All-Ireland quarter-final - football purists have been raving about this one for many years now.

Galway, as we know, are the purists' favourite sons. Indeed, the Connacht champions, big underdogs beforehand, were showered with greater plaudits than Kerry after the match. Galway, after all, were ones that suffered for their art, eschewing cynicism altogether and going down by five points.

Certainly, the victorious Kerry boys didn't stint on the praise for their vanquished opponents, reminding the world that Galway are a good footballing county who play in a decent style.

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Diplomatically, they chose not to add that this was in stark contrast to the cussed Nordie outfits who were the bane of Kerry's existence at the time. Balls is satisfied the inference was there though.

The rain came barrelling down so heavily and the sky grew so dark that spectators could barely see the play and Croke Park officials were forced into switching on the floodlights unusually early.

It didn't hamper either set of forwards. 1-21 to 1-16 was the final count, an astonishing scoreline in the circumstances. Michael Meehan kicked ten points. He was handed a clump of Waterford Crystal for his troubles, despite the going home on the losing side.

 

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2014 All-Ireland hurling semi-final - Limerick v Kilkenny

It rained so hard during the second half of this game, that it was barely visible to those watching on RTE.

The match was almost responsible for the most 21st century moment in the history of GAA watching. The rain grew so intolerable for those on Hill 16, that many had leave their posts and dive down the exits into the sheltered area to get some brief respite.

There, they would have spotted a group of supporters huddled over a mobile phone trying to watch the game on the RTE Player from the bowels of Hill 16. It could have been the most 2014 moment in GAA history had Croke Park's wifi not let them down.

In his book, Kilkenny's Jackie Tyrrell says he never felt more alive than during the downpour in this game.

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Portugal 3 - 0 Ireland, Euro 96 Qualifier

Ireland were plainly in freefall by the time they played in Lisbon in 1995. Having started the Euro 96 campaign as top seeds and earned 13 points from the first five matches, Ireland collapsed down the stretch, to the point where we needed a dig out from Northern Ireland to even get into the playoffs.

Not even the relatively generous qualification criteria could rescue our aged team. All bar the two worst second placed teams qualified automatically, a couplet which included Ireland and Holland. The Dutch obviously ended up there by mistake and swanned by us in Anfield.

The problems began in Liechtenstein with a historically embarrassing 0-0 draw. They continued with two 3-1 defeats against Austria. They abated with a shaky 2-1 win against Latvia.

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We watched through the all too familiar smudges on the camera lens as Portugal ran in three goals in the second half to destroy Ireland 3-0. The Portuguese qualified for their first tournament in ten years. For them, it was the beginning of a new era. For Ireland, it was the start of a transitional period which wouldn't work itself out until the turn of the decade.

Ireland's form in late 95 was so dismal, there was little surprise at the 3-0 loss. Most of the post-match analysis centred around thanking the North for doing us a favour in Windsor Park.

Classic of the 'Jack forgetting players' names genre' here.

"I thought Stan Staunton and... what do you call him?... (Ger Canning interjects with "Jeff Kenna")... Jeff Kenna. I thought they worked and ran and chased."

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1998 Connacht Final - Galway v Roscommon

The only championship game Galway played in Tuam Stadium that year and the only game they didn't win (so much for cliche), this match was unwatchable for much of the first half. Not in the sense of being low in quality but actually in the sense that one couldn't physically watch it.

Those in the crowd had to keep their heads bowed against the rain, staring at their feet, hoping the downpour would subside, while those at home couldn't watch it either because the RTE cameras were by then too smudged with raindrops.

Galway had to change their jerseys at half-time (the sleeves are bare in the clip below).

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Ireland 18 - 9 Australia, 2002 November International

Ireland's first victory over Australia since 1979 was achieved in a tryless game on a Lansdowne Road pitch pockmarked with puddles of water. Every-time a player made a darting run, one could see the water splashing behind them.

Ronan O'Gara's boot did the business on BOD's first day as captain.

The Aussies said afterwards that they weren't used to playing in the rain.

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1993 Ulster Final, Derry v Donegal

Back in the days when the only place an Ulster team could lose was in Ulster, Brian McEniff's Donegal went in to defend their Ulster and All-Ireland title against challengers Derry in an absurdly wet Clones.

The football produced wasn't quite of the 2008 quarter-final standard, with the 1993 Clones pitch possibly less well equipped to cope with the downpour than the modern Croke Park surface.

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Derry won on a fitting scoreline of 0-8 to 0-6. Whereas nowadays, Ulster football could easily produce a scoreline like that on the sunniest of days, back then the northern game was the business and was not in any sense associated with negative, defensive football.

The weather really was to blame.

2002 Pre-World Cup Friendly - Ireland 2-1 USA

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When Bruce Arena met Robbie Keane.

There were puddles on the Lansdowne Road pitch when the USA came to Ireland for a pre-World Cup friendly. Folk were still scoffing at the Yanks and their soccer pretensions in the early noughties. Their landmark 2002 World Cup campaign would go a long way to ending that.

The Americans were plucky but Ireland won 2-1 in the end thanks to goals from Kinsella and Gary Doherty. Big Gary would eventually be left at home for the World Cup.

Interestingly, the US broadcasters were sat in the old East Stand, thus we get a reverse angle on this video.

SEE ALSO: Kerry Junior B Team Opt To Play Against The Wind In The First Half

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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