2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final
|Event||2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship|
|Date||23 September 2012|
|Venue||Croke Park, Dublin|
|Man of the Match||Michael Murphy (Donegal)|
|Referee||Maurice Deegan (Laois)|
The 2012 All-Ireland Football Final, the 125th event of its kind and the culmination of the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, was played at Croke Park, Dublin, on 23 September 2012. Donegal and Mayo, widely considered "one of the most novel final pairings of all time", met to decide the destination of the Sam Maguire Cup, with Donegal ultimately emerging victorious as Mayo were yet again undone by "the curse".
Dublin were the defending champions after defeating Kerry by a single point, 1–12 to 1–11, in the 2011 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. Neither side made it to the 2012 decider; Mayo defeated defending champions Dublin by three points in their semi-final encounter and Donegal defeated Kerry at the quarter-final stage. After the game, Neil Lennon offered Donegal manager Jim McGuinness a professional role as a performance consultant at Celtic F.C.'s Lennoxtown training centre.
The match was screened live internationally, including in Australia, India, South Africa, Thailand, the United States, and elsewhere, while cinemas also showed the game. More than a quarter of Ireland's population watched the match live on RTÉ Two and RTÉ Online, the second highest audience in eight years. Donegal's success spawned a controversial interview with Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show the following week, as well as the documentary Jimmy's Winnin' Matches—its title derived from the similarly named anthem that celebrated Donegal's 2012 Championship success.
This was Donegal's first game at this stage since they won their last title in 1992, while Mayo had not played at this stage since their 2006 humiliation at the hands of Kerry. Coming into the game, Mayo had not won an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title since 1951.
Donegal and Mayo had never previously met in an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. Their only previous Championship meeting was the 1992 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final which Donegal won on their way to that year's title.
Paths to the final
Donegal defeated Cavan, Derry, Tyrone and Down to retain the Ulster Senior Football Championship. They went on to defeat Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final. The first ever Championship meeting between the sides at senior level, it was only the second time in history that Kerry had been defeated at this stage. Ahead of the semi-final against Cork, nobody outside the county gave Donegal a chance, and Cork went into the game as heavy favourites to win the title itself (even though this was only the semi-final). Donegal swatted aside a lacklustre Cork side with ease and progressed to their first title decider since 1992. Tyrone's Mickey Harte, attempting to analyse the game for the BBC, expressed his shock: "To be honest, I could not see that coming. Donegal annihilated Cork, there is no other word for it." Martin McHugh, a member of the successful 1992 side, said it was the best ever performance by any Donegal team including his own.
Mayo defeated Leitrim and Sligo—traditionally two of the weaker counties, neither having won an All-Ireland title—to win the Connacht Senior Football Championship. Mayo went on to defeat Down in the All-Ireland quarter-final and Dublin in the semi-final. Mayo went into the Dublin game as underdogs, much the same as Donegal had been against both Kerry and Cork. The underdogs won yet again. The Mayo–Dublin semi-final had the largest crowd attendance of the season prior to the final (81,364).
Andrew Duffy, a player on the Termon football team in Donegal, drowned in Dublin after watching Donegal defeat Cork in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final. His death followed a last-minute decision to stay in Dublin to celebrate Donegal's victory. More than a thousand people attended his funeral, including Donegal GAA stars Michael Murphy and Mark McHugh. Members of the Termon club paid tribute to him at the place of his death ahead of the final and a moment's silence was held in his memory before the game at Croke Park. There would be further tributes to him after the final, particularly from the Donegal manager and players.
On 21 September 2012, Donegal named an unchanged team from that which had played Cork in the semi-final. Ryan Bradley recovered from his shoulder injury in time to be named in the starting team, while Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher also overcame concerns.
Mayo captain Andy Moran missed the final having ruptured his cruciate knee ligament in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Down. Mayo made one change from the semi-final—Colm Boyle replaced Chris Barrett at half-back.
Donegal captain Michael Murphy lashed the ball into the net after 2 minutes and 25 seconds, having collected a high ball delivered by Karl Lacey. That catch and strike is destined to be 2012's iconic score and Goal of the Season. Championship Matters named it "Goal of the Championship". With 10 minutes gone, Patrick McBrearty's attempt at scoring a point came crashing off the Mayo post. Mayo's Kevin Keane fumbled, dropping the ball into the path of Colm McFadden who promptly slotted it into the back of the net for a second Donegal goal, scored on 10 minutes and 48 seconds. McFadden was soon through on goal again only for Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke to save his strike on this occasion. It appeared as if the 2012 Mayo team was heading in the same direction as their 2006 wipe-out against Kerry, but they eventually began to play and managed to score their opening point from a free after 16 minutes. Colm McFadden scored a total of 1–03 for Donegal in the first half.
Ryan Bradley was substituted by David Walsh after 40 minutes. After 48 minutes Martin McElhinney came on for Patrick McBrearty and, after 57 minutes, Christy Toye came on for Leo McLoone. Dermot Molloy came on for McElhinney near the end of the match. After Michael Murphy fisted over yet another point with eight minutes remaining, a ball which narrowly missed the Mayo goal, photographers swarmed like wasps around Donegal manager Jim McGuinness and his assistant Rory Gallagher on the Croke Park sideline. Donegal led all the way. As referee Maurice Deegan blew the final whistle, Karl Lacey caught the ball and proceeded to toss the ball high into the crowd. Gold streamers showered down upon those present. Mayo had lost their sixth consecutive All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, a run stretching back to 1989. Mark McHugh ran to embrace his father Martin, who was on the sideline working for BBC television coverage of the game. Martin McHugh burst into tears. The emotional moment was beamed around the globe and became one of the iconic images of the victory. From Chicago to Dubai fans of the winning team celebrated.
23 September 2012
||2–11 – 0–13||Mayo
|M. Murphy (1–04, 3f)
C. McFadden (1–04, 3f)
R. Bradley (0–01)
F. McGlynn (0–01)
N. Gallagher (0–01)
|Report||K. McLoughlin (0–02, 1f)
C. O'Connor (0–05, 5f)
M. Conroy (0–01)
E. Varley (0–02, 1f)
R. Feeney (0–01)
L. Keegan (0–01)
J. Gibbons (0–01)
Man of the Match:
The trophy was presented from the Hogan Stand to Donegal captain Michael Murphy by GAA president Liam O'Neill. Taoiseach Enda Kenny—gritting his teeth and wearing a red and green striped tie in the colours of his native Mayo—and Fionnuala O'Kelly were on hand to witness the presentation, as were President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Coyne.
Upon climbing the Hogan Stand, lifting the Sam Maguire Cup and catching his breath, Murphy was handed a microphone to make his speech. He began by bellowing "We have him"—in reference to the Sam Maguire Cup. He ended with a chorus of "Jimmy's winning matches. Jimmy's winning games. Jimmy's bringing Sammy back to Donegal again".
After the presentation the Donegal team and management went on a lap of honour around the Croke Park pitch.
Liam O'Neill later related that Murphy, as they exchanged the Sam Maguire Cup, had offered his condolences on the sudden death of O'Neill's sister the previous day. President O'Neill went on to express his admiration for Murphy and called him an "exceptional young captain".
Press conference incident
At the post-match press conference Jim McGuinness declined to answer questions until reporter Declan Bogue was ejected from the room. Bogue was responsible for the book This Is Our Year which resulted in Kevin Cassidy's expulsion from the Donegal panel in 2011. When Bogue was removed from the room McGuinness explained,
There was a book written. There were a lot of untruths in the book. There was a lot of things said about me. I've never broken court on it since the whole thing happened. I've held my dignity. I've let myself be castigated. And I done that because I gave somebody an agreement that I wouldn't break my court on it. There were a lot of things said in the book that were incorrect and untrue, some of it possibly lies about me personally and about some of my players. It was all-out attack for a couple of months on my character. I know what I've done, I know what I've coached, I know what I am as a person. And that's the situation. So I'm not going to let somebody sit in a room and fill their pages tomorrow on the back of what we done today when they in their wisdom degraded me as a person and some of my players.
The official GAA man of the match was unveiled on RTÉ's The Sunday Game programme on the evening of the match. The winner was picked by a three man panel of Martin McHugh, Kevin McStay and Ciarán Whelan with the award being presented to team captain Michael Murphy at the team reception in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin. Also on the shortlist were Eamon McGee and Frank McGlynn.
Eight Donegal players were named on The Sunday Game Team of the Year—Paul Durcan, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn, Karl Lacey, Mark McHugh, Neil Gallagher, Colm McFadden and Michael Murphy. Karl Lacey was given The Sunday Game Player of the Year Award.
On 2 October 2012, twelve Donegal players were shortlisted for All Star Awards—compared to ten for Mayo, seven for Cork, six for Dublin and just one (Colm Cooper) for Kerry. Nomination for Footballer of the Year were from Donegal only—Karl Lacey, Colm McFadden and Frank McGlynn—, while Paddy McBrearty was nominated for Young Footballer of the Year, against Donal Keogan of Meath and Cillian O'Connor of Mayo.
Scotland issued the following statement, "The Parliament congratulates County Donegal on winning the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, defeating what it considers was an impressive County Mayo team by 2–11 to 0–13 in front of a crowd of 82,000 at Croke Park in Dublin; congratulates coach Jim McGuinness and staff on ending a 20 year wait to take the Sam Maguire trophy back to the county, and notes that Jimmy is indeed "winning matches and bringing Sam back to Donegal again." A large number of curious Scottish parliamentarians signed a motion asking if they might be given the chance to catch a glimpse of the Sam Maguire Cup at the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly in March 2013.
The homecoming events lasted throughout the following week, as the team embarked on a "World Tour of Donegal", that consisted of 40 different stops. The team's arrival into Donegal on 24 September 2012 was broadcast live on RTÉ Online.
The team visited sick children at Crumlin Hospital the morning after their victory, before heading for their homecoming at the Diamond, Donegal. In Donegal, Daniel O'Donnell and his sister Margo were among the diddly-eye entertainment on offer, former Eurovision Song Contestant Mickey Joe Harte was also there, while Rory Gallagher—formerly of The Revs—was on hand to sing Donegal's Championship anthem, his own composition "Jimmy's Winning Matches". Gardaí shut down the town from the late afternoon as huge crowds flooded in from elsewhere. Four Masters, the local GAA club, organised the homecoming.
Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy crossed the Border from Kesh into Pettigo at exactly 8 p.m. with thousands of people watching on, including children given the day off school. The Donegal team arrived into The Diamond late on a wet and miserable evening where they met with a rousing reception from as many as 20,000 people. McGuinness duetted with Daniel O'Donnell on "Destination Donegal" and star player Mark McHugh sang when he joined in on "Jimmy's Winning Matches".
On 25 September 2012, the victorious Donegal team were scheduled to visit Letterkenny, Donegal's largest town, and nearby Glenswilly, the home club of All-Ireland-winning captain Michael Murphy—however, the Glenswilly visit was postponed due to time constraints which arose due the huge crowds eager to catch a glimpse of the team. They also did Bundoran, Ballyshannon, Mountcharles, Killybegs, Kilcar, Carrick, Ardara and Ballybofey on the same day. Originally due to arrive in Letterkenny around 8 p.m., they hadn't even reached Ardara at 9 p.m. after being overwhelmed by thousands of fans throughout the county. Such was the delay that the Donegal County Board had to dismiss rumours that the Letterkenny homecoming had been cancelled, and said it would go ahead "probably around midnight". In the end it was nearly 1 a.m. when the team arrived into Letterkenny. Mayor Dessie Larkin used his own version of the famous alcoholic slogan, saying on stage: "Carlsberg don't do All-Irelands, but McGuinness does." Rory Gallagher finished the night with a rousing rendition of "Jimmy's Winning Matches". The players looked like they were going to fall asleep after their exhausting day.
On 26 September, the "World Tour of Donegal" continued. Rory Kavanagh and Kevin Rafferty visited their former school, Scoil Colmcille, Letterkenny, accompanied by the Sam Maguire Cup, as well as Colm McFadden and Frank McGlynn. Then it was to Termon, and to the home club of goalkeeper Michael Boyle and his close friend Andrew Duffy, who drowned in Dublin after the semi-final against Cork. Andrew Duffy was remembered by those present. Also scheduled for visits on 26 September were Downings, Naomh Micheal in Creeslough (home club of top-scorer Colm McFadden), Falcarragh, Gaoth Dobhair (home club of the McGee brothers), Naomh Mhuire in Muladuff, Dungloe, Na Rossa and Glenties (home of manager Jim McGuinness).
On 27 September, the "World Tour of Donegal" concluded with stops at Carndonagh, Malin, Urris, Buncrana, and, eventually, the postponed visit to Glenswilly—the home club of All-Ireland-winning captain Michael Murphy.
Jim McGuinness vowed that the Sam Maguire Cup would be taken to every school in the county. On 28 September 2012, him and the team appeared on The Late Late Show, the world's longest running chat show, hosted by Ryan Tubridy. The "interview" was criticised by many—its shortness was contrasted with the full sit-down interview Tubridy conducted with Dublin the previous year—, with UTV broadcaster Adrian Logan calling it a "disgrace".
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- Photo galleries
- In Their Own Pictures: Donegal Heroes of 2012 Celebrate Capturing Sam
- Fans from across the globe celebrate Donegal's success
- BBC: All-Ireland final photos
- BBC: Photos of Donegal's semi-final victory over Cork
- RTÉ: Donegal's route to the All-Ireland final
- RTÉ: Mayo's route to the All-Ireland final
- Gaoth Dobhair
- Naomh Mhuire
- RTÉ: Michael Murphy accepts the Sam Maguire Cup
- Paul Durcan steps off the bus in Donegal Town
- Jim and Daniel duet
- Ryan Bradley in Buncrana