They say that history is written by the winners. This is true today for Cavan and Tipperary as their victories on Friday add another chapter to the illustrious story of the G.A.A.
100 years ago on Sunday the 21st November, British army officers surrounded the Tipperary vs. Dublin match in Croke Park and opened fire. Fourteen were murdered including Tipperary player, Michael Hogan. Historians agree sparked that this event was the beginning of the end of the War of Independence and marked an increase in violence and retribution from the Black and Tans with the Burning of Cork occurring less than a month later.
It seemed only fitting that Tipperary would wear a replica of the jersey 100 years later as they beat they Munster on Friday. They beat the same team in 1935 that they beat yesterday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, ending the succession of Kerry wins in Munster. They lost to Cavan in the All-Ireland Semi-final that year. In the year of Our Lord 2020 they face a Mayo team looking to get to another All-Ireland final and send their own ghosts from 1951 to peace, the same team they faced a century ago. Dublin, Tipperary, Mayo and Cavan won 100 years ago and are the provincial champions this year. Dublin face Cavan in one semi-final while Mayo and Tipp battled it out in the other match. In two weeks, those same matches will be played once again. I’m not one for superstitions but this one is hard to ignore.
100 years ago Tipperary found were wrapped in the bloody tapestry that is Irish history under British occupation. The massacre on the 21st November 1920 saw the delay of their semi-final against Mayo until the summer of 1922. They went on to win the 1920 All-Ireland against Dublin on the 11th of June 1922. The team that day must have carried the weight of what happened on Bloody Sunday with them, as did David Power’s men yesterday.
Everybody, but Tipperary seemed to think that Cork were the favourites. However, Tipperary worked harder, turned over more balls in their half-back line and kicked less wides over the course of the final.
Michael Quinlivan scored some beautiful points in the first half to remind everyone of his class while Conor Sweeney did some major damage in the full-forward line. Evan Comerford chipped in with some important points from placed ball frees and his goal kicks were also important throughout. Tipp eventually ran out 17-14 winners but it always looked comfortable for them.
Ian Maguire put in a colossal performance for the Rebels in midfield while Mark Collins tried to pull the strings in the second half from further out the field. The loss of Luke Connolly to a hamstring injury at half-time didn’t help their cause but really this game came down to Tipperary’s hunger and their superior skill level.
In the end it wasn’t a bad day for Tipperary as they honoured the team from 100 years ago, ended a provincial drought and capitalised on their good performances and progress over the last five years.
Cavan carved out their own slice of history at the Athletic Grounds in the Ulster decider later that afternoon. After coming back from seemingly impossible margins against Monaghan and Down, they found themselves rank outsiders against Donegal. Last year’s winners dispatched Tyrone and Armagh on their path to the final, staying solid throughout the course of their games and looking impressive across the board. Michael Murphy had been calling the shots and popping up all over the field, defending and attacking in equal measure. Ryan McHugh was breaking out from the back, keen to lead Donegal back to Croke Park. Yesterday, though, they faced a Cavan team possessed.
Oisín Kiernan scored a tremendous point towards the end of the game to restore Cavan’s lead. He was everywhere yesterday, often appearing to claim the ball in the cornerback position before racing to join the attack once again. Gearoid McKiernan kicked some wonderful frees and his long-range ball led to the Cavan goal that sealed their victory. Conor Madden, a blood substitute and receiver of a black card, scored that goal and several important points to send Donegal packing. Mikey Graham’s men just looked like a different class yesterday and while Donegal kicked a few uncharacteristic wides they can have no one to blame but themselves. Cavan won’t care about Donegal and the fact that they performed poorly today. As Thomas Galligan talked about in his post-match interview with RTÉ, Cavan were underdogs against Monaghan, Down and Donegal. Look where they are now.
History is written by the winners, and this chapter of history encompasses a century of liberation, championships, unbridled joy and unimaginable sorrow. Tipperary and Cavan may add in their own author’s note: Don’t underestimate us again.