Moments that defined the Championship summer
1 PADDY DURCAN’s point v Kerry All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, August 20th Mayo have five minutes of injury-time to find an equaliser – the only surprise is probably that they didn’t find a winner too. Consummate patience from Donie Vaughan sent up Durcan for a return pass and one of Mayo’s most reliable shooters did the business. 2 CON O’CALLAGHAN’s goal v Tyrone All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, August 27th This was supposed to be different. But then it was just the same. Tyrone gave the ball away in midfield and a quick kick-pass left O’Callaghan with the Hill beckoning him home. Dublin’s new starlet needed only one sidestep and a sight of goal and that was that. 3 AIDAN O’SHEA picks up Kieran Donaghy All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, August 20th The Mayo News came up with five different markers for Donaghy in the build-up and none of them were Aidan O’Shea. So when he went in full back after five minutes, the hum around the ground was palpable. He probably lost the battle; the war was another story. 4 DIARMUID CONNOLLY’s push Leinster SFC, Portlaoise, June 17th Connolly was manhandled by three Carlow players on the sideline and when the call went against him, he pushed linesman Ciarán Branagan in the shoulder. And so began the summer’s most tiresome circus. Pushgate, Spillanegate, CCCCgate, 12-week-gate. 5 JAMIE CLARKE’s goal v Tipperary All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Thurles, July 15th Only the geniuses can do it like this. Armagh were a point up in the 69th minute and this was the most elegant killshot of the year. Left alone in front of goal, he dropped the ball onto his left foot, nurdled it around the onrushing Tipp keeper and sidefooted home. 6 MAYO’S THREE GOALS in five minutes v Roscommon All-Ireland quarter-final replay, Croke Park, August 7th End of the road for the Rossies, and maybe the true start of it for Mayo. This was the day they said enough was enough. Roscommon were blitzed. Goals from McLoughlin, Moran (above) and Higgins made Mayo’s point emphatically. 7 KIERAN DONAGHY’s goal v Galway All-Ireland quarter-final, Croke Park, July 30th Galway had a plan for Donaghy – he treated them like errand boys sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill. A long ball in high found his big white gloves, marker flailing, sweeper floundering. Just for kicks, he turned inside on his left foot and roofed the finish. 8 BRIAN STACK’s goal v Galway Connacht final, Pearse Stadium, July 9th Roscommon were playing with a six-point lead into what felt like a six-point wind. Stack pounced on to a Galway kick-out 50 metres out, took the mark, ignored the whistle and made for goal, finishing to the bottom left corner. Game, set, Connacht title. 9 CONOR LOFTUS’s goal v Derry All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Castlebar, July 1st Mayo Were Gone, Part One. Derry were visibly tiring but they still had a point lead as the clock ticked 70. This was a brilliant goal, worked the length of the pitch through precise passing. Cillian O’Connor dished off the last one for Loftus to finish with aplomb. 10 ANDY MORAN’s goal v Kerry All-Ireland semi-final replay, Croke Park, August 26th The moment at which Mayo became a different proposition. Five points up at half-time, the normal course of events would have seen a Kerry comeback. Moran was having none of it, catching high and trading a one-two with Cillian O’Connor to nail down the lid. 11 BRENDAN MURPHY’s goal v Wexford Leinster SFC, Dr Cullen Park, May 21st Carlow hadn’t won a Leinster game since 2011 and now Wexford were within a point in injury-time. Darragh Foley caught a kick-out and fed Murphy on the Wexford 45. Taking the handy point would have sealed it. Murphy decided a goal would seal it better. Rapture. 12 CONNAIRE HARRISON’s first point v Monaghan Ulster semi-final, Armagh, June 24th Harrison was a brutalising force of nature all night for Down, giving Drew Wylie a rare but sound roasting. His first point was Down’s first point, a rampaging full-forward’s rebel yell of a score and Down kicked on from there to their first Ulster final since 2012. 13 JOHNNY HEANEY double save v Mayo Connacht semi-final, June 11th, Pearse Stadium Six minutes to go, with Galway three ahead. Mayo sub Danny Kirby stripped goalkeeper Ruairí Lavelle and faced an empty net. From nowhere, Johnny Heaney lunged to first block Kirby’s shot and then Diarmuid O’Connor’s follow-up. Superhero stuff to seal the win. 14 CIARÁN MURTAGH goal v Mayo All-Ireland quarter-final, Croke Park, July 30th Even allowing for the Connacht title, this was the high point of Roscommon’s year. Just 11 minutes gone against their old oppressors and Murtagh staked in behind and nailed a low finish at David Clarke’s near post. Rossies 2-2 Mayo 0-1. 15 LEE KEEGAN goal v Roscommon All-Ireland quarter-final, Croke Park, July 30th All the Rossies had to do was catch the kick-out. Or if they couldn’t, they had to foul the man who did. Or if they couldn’t they had to mind Lee Keegan. Or if they couldn’t, they had to go meet him. They did none of these. Mayo were back in it within 40 seconds. 16 SEÁN POWTER goal v Mayo All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Limerick, July 22nd Goal of the year contender. Mayo were easing to a sleepy win before Powter stuck as defiant a goal as you’ll ever see. Collecting in midfield, he kept running, dodging and bulling on, turning Keith Higgins inside out and beating David Clarke from 15 metres. 17 ETHAN RAFFERTY point v Kildare All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Croke Park, July 29th This is how you make amends. Rafferty had come off the bench and almost immediately given away two artless frees to keep Kildare in the game. This point, a shall-not-yield effort that kissed the sky on its way down, ushered them off the premises. 18 SEÁN CAVANAGH’s last game All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, August 13th No fairytales. Cavanagh’s 89th and last game in a Tyrone jersey ended after 55 minutes with the game long dead. He jogged off into retirement, holding the all-time record for appearances by an outfield player. A queue of Dubs lined up afterwards to pay their respects. 19 LUKE CONNOLLY’s goal v Tipperary Munster semi-final, Páirc Uí Rinn, June 10th Conor Sweeney’s goal in the 69th minute put Tipp 1-9 to 0-10 ahead and it looked like Cork were done. From the kick-out, four rat-a-tat passes moved the ball from midfield to the edge of the square where Connolly palmed home. Tipp had led for exactly 30 seconds. 20 ROBBIE KIELY goal v Cavan All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Breffni Park, July 8th Without five of their 2016 team, Tipperary came from six points down away from home and produced one of the ballsiest displays of the year. Capped off by this goal from Kiely eight minutes from time, smashed home from the edge of the large square. 21 PETER HARTE’s point v Donegal Ulster semi-final, Clones, June 18th This was actually still quite a close game in the 25th minute. The floodgates were jimmied open when Harte dummy-soloed outside one tackle, jinked inside another, turned back on himself to evade a third and swung a rare right-footed score as a fourth closed in. Sublime. 22 DUBLIN’s two goals in a minute v Kildare Leinster final, Croke Park, June 25th This was a game and then it wasn’t a game. Kildare started well and even went ahead but then James McCarthy got in for one goal and Dean rock got in for another and the awesome might of the Dublin machine milled them to fine flour. 23 CATHAL MCNALLY’s fast start v Meath Leinster semi-final, Tullamore, June 17th Supposed to be a clash of equals but McNally started at a tempo nobody in a Meath jersey could match. He had 1-3 from play on the board inside the opening 18 minutes. The question of who is Leinster’s second team was answered quicker than anyone envisioned. 24 WATERFORD give Cork a scare Munster SFC, Fraher Field, May 27th Waterford haven’t beaten Cork since 1960 and haven’t finished within doublefigures since 1972. Yet here they were, level in injury-time with Cork down to 14 men. Late, late points from Paul Kerrigan and Colm O’Neill saw the Rebels home. But only just. 25 RONAN O’NEILL’s lob v Down Ulster final, Clones, July 16th The game was long over and O’Neill had already scored a goal with his first. But none of that diminishes the delicate class of his second goal. Having stolen in behind the Down cover, he lobbed Michael Cunningham with a perfect parabola. 26 PATRICK McBREARTY point v Meath All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Navan, July 8th One of those to-and-fro humdingers that the qualifiers can throw up. Michael Murphy kept Donegal in credit throughout but it was McBrearty who came up with the fistful of dollars in the end. Injury-time, draw game, McBrearty landed a bomb from 50 metres. 27 FINTAN KELLY goal v Carlow All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Dr Cullen Park, July 15th Carlow’s longest summer finally ended but they gave Monaghan a huge fright. Leading with 10 to go, they were only point down in the 66th minute. Kelly finished them off, padding home at the end of a fine running move. Monaghan ran to the bus, relieved. 28 DIARMUID O’CONNOR’s point v Cork All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Limerick, July 22nd Mayo were gone, Part Two. Having rescued the draw, Cork were the ones who kicked on in extra-time. But Mayo don’t fizzle out. This was the go-ahead score, O’Connor nailing it with the outside of his right boot from 40 metres on an angle. The place went dizzy. 29 JOHNNY HEANEY goal v Donegal All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Sligo, July 22nd Donegal were actually leading here after the opening quarter. But then Galway outscored them 3-5 to 0-1 for the rest of the first half, starting with Heaney palming home this effort with the Donegal backline nowhere. It was to become a jarringly familiar sight. 30 CONOR McMANUS point v Down All-Ireland SFC qualifier, Croke Park, July 29th It had been a frustrating championship pretty much all the way through for McManus but occasionally he was able to wriggle free. This was his best score all year, a high-stepping, twirling, duck-n-move run across the Down defence and a soaring finish.