legends | 

Ground-breaking achievement of the ‘Kerry Four’ may never be repeated

Most inter-county footballers not only fail to secure a medal during their careers, they actually don’t win too many matches.

24 July 2022; Kerry manager Jack O'Connor and Paudie Clifford of Kerry celebrate after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrickSunday World

The ground-breaking achievement of the ‘Kerry Four’ David and Paudie Clifford and Rathmore duo Shane Ryan and Paul Murphy in winning eight football medals – four with Kerry and four with their clubs – in the season just ended may never be repeated.

The majority of players struggle to win eight medals in their entire careers.

Most inter-county footballers not only fail to secure a medal during their careers, they actually don’t win too many matches.

Professional boxers are primarily judged on whether they can win more fights than they lose.

Were this criteria applied to football teams most of them would be rated as journeymen.

Last season only 11 counties (see table below) had winning records: i.e. they won more games than they lost. Dublin, Armagh and Donegal had an equal number of wins and losses. This leaves 17 counties whose figures are in the red.

Starting at the bottom, Waterford and Down failed to win either a league or championship game in 2022 – each managed one draw.

Imagine how demoralising that experience was for the players - particularly in the case of the Ulster side who have won five All-Ireland titles since 1960.

Laois too had a horrible season, recording just two wins – they ended up in Division 4 and last posted a win on March 13 against Wicklow. Though Longford only won twice as well, they had a more satisfying season.

A seven-point away win over Laois in the final round of Division 3 enabled them to finish ahead of Laois on scoring difference and avoid the drop.

Higher profile counties like Monaghan and Meath finished in the lower regions of the rating scale as well.

But Monaghan had the satisfaction of yet again defying the odds to keep their place in the top-flight of the league.

Though they had only had three wins all year – their victory over Dublin in the last round of the league was very sweet as it secured their Division 1 status for an unprecedented ninth consecutive season.

Meath’s only consolation on the back on their three wins was that they stayed in Division 2, but new boss Colm O’Rourke will be looking for a big improvement this season.

All the usual suspects are top ten, with the exception of Dublin, who managed just two wins in the league even though they comfortably retained the Leinster title and ran Kerry to a point in an epic All-Ireland semi-final.

Kerry (1st), Galway (2nd) and Derry (4th) are rewarded for their consistency all season, even if Derry blew promotion on the final day when they lost at home to Galway.

Lower profile teams like Cavan (3rd), Westmeath (5th) and Sligo (6th) had consistent seasons as well, boosted by their performances in the Tailteann Cup.

But the underlying message is that the careers of most inter-county players are governed by Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous quotation “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive. And the true success is to venture’.

Think about that the next time you are tempted to back a team just because of a player you admire.

HOW YOUR COUNTY FARED IN 2022

1 Kerry: Played 13; Won 11; D 1 Lost 1

2 Galway: Played 14; Won 11; Drew 0, Lost 3

3 Cavan: Played 14; Won 11; Drew 0; Lost 3

4 Derry: Played 12; Won 9, Drew 1, Lost 2

5 Westmeath: Played 13; Won 9, Drew 1, Lost 3

6 Sligo: Played 12; Won 8; Drew 0; Lost 4

7 Roscommon: Played 11 Won 7, Drew 2, Lost 2

8 Limerick: Played 11; Won 7; Drew 0; Lost 4

9 Mayo: Played 12: Won 6; Drew 1 Lost 5

10 Louth: Played 10; Won 6; Drew 1; Lost 3

11 Dublin: Played 12; Won 6; Drew 0; Lost 6

12 Leitrim: Played 11; Won 6; Drew 0; Lost 5

13 Armagh: Played 11: Won 5; Drew 1: Lost 5

14 Donegal: Played 11: Won 5; Drew 1; Lost 5

15 Clare: Played 11; Won 4; Drew 2; Lost 5

16 Tyrone: Played 10; Won 4; Drew 1; Lost 5

17 Kildare: Played 11; Won 4; Drew 1; Lost 6

18 Cork: Played 11; Won 4; Drew 1; Lost 6

19 Offaly: Played 12; Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 7

20 Tipperary: Played 12; Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 7

21 Monaghan: Played 10; Won 3, Drew 2, Lost 5

22 Meath: Played 10; Won 3; Drew 2; Lost 5

23 Fermanagh: Played 10; Won 3; Drew 2; Lost 5.

24 Antrim: Played 9; Won 3; Drew 1; Lost 5

25 Wexford: Played 10; Won 3; Drew 1; Lost 6

26 Wicklow: Played 11: Won 3; Drew 1; Lost 7

27 London: Played 9; Won 3; Drew 0; Lost 6

28 Carlow: Played 10; Won 2; Drew 1; Lost 7

29 Longford: Played 9; Won 2; Drew 1; Lost 6.

30 Laois: Played 9; Won 2; Drew 1; Lost 6.

31 Down: Played 9; Won 0; Drew 1; Lost 8

32 Waterford: Played 9; Won 0; Drew 1; Lost 8


Today's Headlines

More GAA

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos