At the end of every summer, the All-Ireland Football and Hurling Finals are held at Croke Park in Dublin in front of a capacity crowd of 82,000 people from all around the country.
All-Ireland final days capture the spirit of Ireland and the GAA. The streets of Drumcondra are filled with ardent GAA men and women, buzzing for the game ahead and fuelled by whatever the bars of Dublin have to offer.
There is nothing like the roar of Croke Park in the September sun. The best players of the year from the top two teams in the country compete for the right to be All-Ireland Champions, the pinnacle of the GAA. The euphoria of the victors and the heartache of the losers is a unique spectacle and makes the game what it is.
The All-Ireland Hurling Final will take place on Sunday 18 August, contested between two heavyweights of the game, Kilkenny and Tipperary. Matches between the two are legendary, and this time will surely be no different.
The All-Ireland Football Final will take place on Sunday 8 September, and it is a dream final between the two traditional rivals of Gaelic football, Kerry and Dublin.
The Dubs are in pursuit of a record five-in-a-row All-Ireland titles, the current record of four shared with their opponents for the day.
The All-Ireland Hurling Final
Finalists: Kilkenny v Tipperary
Date: 18 August 2019
Venue: Croke Park
Tv Channel: RTE 2/Sky Sports Arena
Kilkenny and Tipperary games are always of the highest standard and have produced some of the best All-Ireland hurling finals in recent years. It was Tipperary who ruthlessly stopped Kilkenny from winning five in a row in 2010, before The Cats got their revenge and resumed their place on the throne a year later.
In 2014, when everyone thought the Kilkenny hurling machine was out of oil, they defeated Tipp in a replay after two thrilling games on their way to winning their 35th and 36th All-Ireland titles (2015). The Premier County got their revenge in the 2016 All-Ireland final between the two.
This will be the 21st time the teams have met in Championship action. Surprisingly, it is Tipperary who lead with 11 victories to Kilkenny’s 8, with one draw coming in the 2014 decider.
Both sides lost their provincial finals (Tipperary to Limerick and Kilkenny to Wexford) but regrouped to make their way to the final. Kilkenny knocked out the holders Limerick in a viciously competitive semi-final on their way to the decider, while Tipp defeated Laois and Leinster champions Wexford en route.
This is sure to be an epic game between two of the top hurling teams in the country. While Tipperary have been in incredible form this year, Kilkenny will look to add to their haul of 36 titles after a resurgent season and a return to their status as the standard-bearers of hurling.
All-Ireland Football Final
The finalists: Kerry v Dublin
Date: 8 September 2019
The venue: Croke Park
TV Channel/Live stream: RTE 2/Sky Sports Arena
A Kerry-Dublin All-Ireland final is the stuff dreams are made of. Being the two most successful sides in Gaelic football history, Kerry against Dublin is the traditional rivalry of the sport, producing epic battles unmatched elsewhere.
This will be the third time the teams have met in the All-Ireland final this decade. The first time was in 2011 when the Dubs were one-point winners. True to the nature of these games, the game was won in dramatic circumstances, when goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton made the 60-yard journey to score the winning free in injury time.
The second was in 2015 on a rain-soaked September day, where the Dubs regained the title they lost in 2014, which saw Kerry claim their first All-Ireland since 2009. Dublin have not lost a Championship game since.
Kerry currently lead Dublin on All-Ireland titles with 36 compared to Dublin’s 28. They have met 29 times in Championship football, with the facts in the Kingdom’s favour; they have 17 wins compared to Dublin’s 10, with two draws. The 2013 Semi-Final between the two remains one of the greatest games in the history of the sport.
The question on everyone’s minds for this game is – can Dublin be stopped? They have won their last 22 Championship matches, and are unbeaten in their last 35. They have only lost 2 Championship games since 2012. They have also beaten Kerry in the Championship 3 times during this period; the 2013 Semi-Final, the 2015 Final, and the 2016 Semi-Final.
After Dublin’s destruction of Mayo, the answer is probably no. While Kerry have history and tradition behind them, and a mix of young talent and calm heads in their current side, It seems that no-one can put a stop to Dublin’s blue wave. Kerry will want to remind everyone why they are ‘The Kingdom’, but the Five in a Row seems inevitable at this stage.