Kerry defeat Louth in Croke Memorial Cup thriller
Kerry captain, Dick Fitzgerald, pictured with the Croke Memorial Cup in the months after his team's famous victory over Louth. This photograph was reproduced in Fitzgerald's book, 'How to Play Gaelic Football', published in 1914

Kerry defeat Louth in Croke Memorial Cup thriller

Record crowd attends replayed football final at Jones’ Road

Published: 29 June 1913

Kerry 2-4, Louth 0-5

Kerry has won the Croke Memorial Cup after defeating the reigning All-Ireland champions, Louth, on their second attempt. This thrilling contest, played before a huge crowd and in brilliant sunshine at Jones’ Road, is already being hailed as one of the best ever.

Eight weeks ago at the same Dublin venue, the two teams, whose recent rivalry has been among the most enthralling in the history of Gaelic games, were inseparable and the levels of expectancy were huge in advance of yesterday’s replay. They came from all parts of the country, but mostly, of course, from the counties of the north and south. The Great Northern Railway ran ten special excursion trains, four more than they had for the drawn final, while the Great Southern and Western Railway, having originally planned to provide nine special trains, upped this number to eleven to meet the spectacular demand. 

By noon, the streets of the city were thronged with Gaelic enthusiasts and hours before the 3.14 pm throw-in, thousands of supporters had already taken their places within the Jones’ Road enclosure.

The wait would be worth it. This was a game that enthralled from start to finish.

Louth, with a slight breeze at their back, started the better and it was somewhat against the run of play that Kerry scored the game’s opening goal - a soft one at that - on the ten minute mark. It would be Kerry’s one and only score of a first half that ended with the teams still locked in stalemate.

The second half brought no let up and the unflagging intensity of the contest was testament to the quality of the training that had been done by both sets of players. Louth again enjoyed plenty of possession, but Kerry proved more economical and accurate in the use of theirs. Even so, the outcome remained in the balance until the final minutes.  Kerry led by 2-2 to 0-5, but two late points extended their margin of victory to the delight of the Kingdom’s jubilant supporters. 

A section of the huge crowd which poured into Jones' Road for the Croke Memorial Cup Final, Irish Independent, 30 June 1913. 

This was an occasion to live long in the memory. And not just because of the quality of play. The size of the crowd – estimated at 36,000 – was a record and has delivered receipts of £1,183 into the GAA’s coffers.

Among the attendance was Mr Daniel McCarthy, a former Kerry player now resident in New York, who returned to Ireland especially for the game. Present also was the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, Mr John Redmond MP, who arrived shortly before the match and was introduced to the captains of the two teams before throw-in.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr Redmond paid tribute to the orderly behaviour of the supporters of both teams. ‘I did not see a single policeman within the grounds, and there was not the remotest need for their presence.’

Pressed by The Freeman’s Journal as to how he rated the game in comparison with soccer and rugby contests, Mr Redmond responded: ‘I liked it much better. The play is much opener. There is more work for the football itself – more foot work in it – than in rugby. It is undoubtedly a fine game.’

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