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27 September 2001 Edition

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Gaillimh Abú

Well it took 68 minutes for `The fields of Athenry' to start up in my local, but start up it did and by the final whistle it was Sam, and not Michael, who was being taken away.

Galway won the All-Ireland for the second time in three years on Sunday after handing pre-match favorites Meath a footballing lesson. An unsettled start from the Tribesmen let the Leinster Champions in for a few simple points but come midway through the first half, Galway's dominance on the field, if not on the scoreboard, began to shine through. Despite the level scores at half-time, Galway always gave the feeling having just that little bit extra.

It almost seemed as though Meath were beaten before they stepped onto the pitch. Maybe they believed the hype written about them in the lead up to the match, maybe they just had a bad day. In the end it didn't matter; Galway were the better team by a stretch.

Perhaps it was the adversity that the westerners had faced down all season that gave them their edge. Infighting at the beginning of the campaign threatened to pull the team asunder and after the first round loss to Roscommon, Galway fans could have been forgiven for harbouring serious doubts over the ability of their footballers.

However in this, the most packed ever ever season in the history of the GAA, due to the introduction of the back-door system, upsets were guaranteed.

Wicklow, followed by Armagh and Cork fell to the Galwaymen, and then the eagerly awaited return showdown with Roscommon saw a return to normal service, with the Tribesmen in the ascendancy. Derry were next and that only left the Royal.

Overall, the football season proved highly entertaining. The back-door system was a breath of fresh air. Teams who simply didn't perform on the day were offered the only sensible option, that of another chance, and many availed of it successfully (although others just got a chance to repeat their inadequacies).

There were a few surprises, asin the successes of Sligo and Roscommon and Dublin were almost there, flattering to deceive as usual.

Champions Kerry were perhaps the biggest disappointment. Even though they made the semis, their performance against Meath was woeful to say the least and left Páidí Ó Sé as happy as Ian Paisley at an Easter commemoration.

And so the focus now turns to Australia, to seek vengeance for last year's international rules defeat at the hands of the boys down under.

Man of the match: Pádraig Joyce

BY CHRIS Ó RÁLAIGH


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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