The 2011 championship is now one for the football historians and ontheroad has included the destination of this year’s title in this statistical analysis of All-Irelands won and lost since 1980.
All-Ireland finals and Kerry go hand in hand. They either win them or occasionally lose one. We tend to see them on one side of the ledger and the rest of the counties on the other. If we start at 1980 until the present which covers 32 years we find some interesting facts.
In that period the All-Ireland title has been won by eleven different counties. Fourteen counties have contested the finals. Many people may be surprised at such a sweep of counties featuring on the big day. Of the fourteen finalists only Mayo, Roscommon and Kildare have failed to win the title.
Patterns and coincidences occur throughout those years. Kerry won the 1980 and 2000 finals. Cork won the 1990 and 2010 finals. Meath, Kerry and Galway won the 1996/97/98 finals. The sequence and cycle repeated with the 1999/2000/2001 victories for the same teams.
The four Ds dominated from 1991-1994. The breakthrough in Ulster that was bookended by Down and sandwiched with Donegal and Derry occurred in that era. Meath and Cork battled from 1987-1991, four finals each. Three times against each other with Mayo and Down breaking the monotony.
Kerry managed the last three-in-a-row between 1984-86 and are the last team to put back-to-back titles together in 2006/07. The arrival of Tyrone upped the percentage of Kerry losses. The last decade has seen Kerry win four but also lose four finals. From 1984 until 1990 three counties held the title via a treble and two doubles. The honours belong to Kerry, Meath and Cork.
Kerry featured in sixteen finals in this era with an eleven-five win to loss ratio. Cork come second with nine finals returning a three wins six loss ratio. Meath played in seven finals with a healthy four win three loss return. Dublin also played in seven with the Meath figures reversed: a three win four loss ratio.
Any team who played in at least two finals eventually won an All-Ireland in this era. The only exception being Mayo who have an unequalled five final and five loss return. Their neighbours Galway post a two win two loss ratio with Down bearing a three win to one loss ratio. Armagh and Offaly return a win from two final appearances.
Both Derry and Donegal featured in a single final a piece, both with wins. Derry’s lasting legacy from that final was to bequeath Joe Brolly to the nation. Darragh Ó Sé is the most bemedalled player since 1980 with six medals for his endeavours.
Mick O’Dwyer has five All-Ireland titles from his managerial reign during that era followed by Sean Boylan with four. Mickey Harte and Jack O’Connor led their counties to three titles. Brian McEnniff and Eamon Coleman have legendary status from their single forays to the top.
Roscommon and Kildare have appeared in a single final, each of them losing out. Despite Kildare making only a single final and winning only two Leinster titles in this era, somehow or other they managed to gather 13 All-Star awards during this period. Their illustrious neighbours Offally with four Leinster titles and an All-Ireland win in the same period earned a single All-Star more than Kildare. Mayo with five All-Ireland final appearances along with three national league finals managed only a begrudging 22.
Sometime it’s the absent names that call on us to stop and think. Cavan with their 39 Ulster titles almost equalling the combined totals of Tyrone, Derry, Down, Donegal and Armagh are nowhere to be found. They are not even in the vanguard of the new arrivals like Limerick, Wexford, and Tipperary who have made recent giant strides.
Perhaps when the GAA sit down to draw up their next plan like the one that refloated Dublin hurling they might spare a thought for the Breffni County. How could Cavan have slipped through the cracks and slid away unnoticed? Statistics are raw figures. Often within them lie untold joy and an equal dollop of heartache.