Gaelic football plays a huge part in the lives of so many of the people in County Roscommon. There is huge passion for the game in the county and it has remained that way over the decades.
This Sunday history could be made when Dublin attempt to win five All-Ireland senior titles in a row when they face Kerry. In common with every other county in the country there will be huge interest in the match here.
It’s a world away from the thousands of people who go out every week on a voluntary basis to help out with teams from U-8s to senior not only in football but in hurling, camogie, and ladies football also. The GAA is a massive cultural movement that is unique to this country. But it’s in the big games that we see our heroes, the great players and where the history books are written.
I am no different to thousands of Roscommon people in that I was brought to games from the time I was able to walk by my late father. But to be brought to an All-Ireland final as a child was the highlight of the year. In 1962 the family car was adorned with Roscommon flags as we headed east only to return empty handed after being beaten by Kerry.
By the time 1980 had come my father had been gone for almost 10 years so we made our own way to Croke Park only for Kerry to knock us back on our heels again. There were a couple of years since when Roscommon were close to getting there after that but it hasn’t happened since. But there is absolutely nothing to match having your county involved in a major All-Ireland final. We got a taste in 2006 with that never to be forgotten win for the minors.
I was there in 1982 to see Offaly deny Kerry the five-in-a-row when Seamus Darby scored that last minute goal. It was the biggest roar that I ever heard in Croke Park. To win one All-Ireland is difficult but to win five on the trot is almost impossible.
So will we see history being made this Sunday? I have a feeling that we will. Most neutrals are glad that Kerry are there to play Dublin and not Tyrone. There is a chance of a football match breaking out as Kerry will definitely play.
But in the humble opinion of this writer, Dublin have players who can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the greatest that have ever played the game; Stephen Cluxton, Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy, Brian Fenton, Con O’Callaghan, Paul Mannion and Ciarán Kilkenny are up there with the likes of Jacko, Pat Spillane, Mikey Sheehy, The Bomber and John Egan and all the other greats.
I hope that it’s a great game. Dublin play a great brand of football that combines the long and short game and their power and precision will be the key. The only thing that may beat them on Sunday is the weight of history on their shoulders. It’s the only unknown factor.
I love being around when sporting history is being made. Kerry would dearly love to deny the Dubs the ‘five-in-a-row’ and that would write another famous chapter in their illustrious history if that were to happen. But under the very astute management of Jim Gavin, Dublin can weather the Kerry storm and take the title for the fifth year on the trot…I just hope that when we look back on the game on Monday that we have plenty to talk about.