The ‘greatest goalman to ever clutch a ball’ was Clare’s Tommy Daly, who knew what it took to beat Cork in an All-Ireland final when he inspired Dublin to a famous win in 1927, writes Joe Ó Muircheartaigh
4 September, 1927
Dublin 4-8 Cork 1-3
@ Croke Park
IT WAS a great Clare day on Jones’ Road when in the words of the most famous GAA journalist of the day, Paddy Mehigan, who went by the pen-names of ‘Carberry’ and ‘Pato’, Cork were “outpaced and outplayed by probably the best 15 men who have ever contested a championship final”.
Coming from Mehigan, this was saying something, as he was a Corkman and he’d played in the All-Ireland finals of 1902 and 1905 for London and Cork respectively. And it was high praise for a Dublin team back-boned by Claremen, with Tulla’s Tommy Daly being the star man, proving on this day why balladeer Bryan MacMahon moved to call him “the greatest goalman to ever clutch a ball”.
There were five Claremen on the Dublin team that year. Outside Daly on the edge of the square was Pa ‘Fowler’ McInerney (the goalkeeper in Clare’s All-Irelnad win in 1914) from O’Callaghan’s Mills, while the Mills were also represented by Jack Gleeson; Ned Fahy of the Dalcassians flew the Ennis flag, while Tom O’Rourke hailed from Newmarket-on-Fergus, with Tom Burnell of Tubber among the subs. Apart from Dr Daly, all were members of the Gardai Siochána who made up nine members of the All-Ireland winning team.
This ‘Clare’ victory was achieved with the minimum of fuss, as the Dubs cruised to a 4-8 to 1-3 victory over the Munster Champions. And it was revenge of sorts for the Bannermen, as Clare had been beaten in the Munster final by the Rebels on a 5-3 to 3-4 scoreline.
Tom O’Rourke’s brother Michael was on the Clare team, while Fahy, Burnell, Gleeson and O’Rourke would return to the Clare colours in 1928 and take Cork to a replay in that year’s Munster decider.
There was no denying Clare’s Dubs in ’27 though, with the smallest man of the field in Tommy Daly standing tallest of all. “The Dublin backs were more than a match for the Cork forwards,” said The Irish Independent. “Dublin put up a great defence, and it is not reflecting on the other members of the last line to say that the palm for elegance must to the custodian, Dr Tommy Daly, the sole representative of University College.
“Dr Daly has played many great games for Dublin, with whom he now has four championships, but he was never seen to better advantage than yesterday, when not alone was his saving perfect, but his deliveries were an outstanding feature of the hour’s play,” the report added.
Paddy Mehigan went further than that when commentating on the match for 2RN (Radio Éireann).
“Cork go sweeping into the Dublin goal,” he roared. “A cloud of dust rises. It must be a goal. Oh Daly! Daly! Daly! Wonderful.”
It was only the second year of match commentaries on the new national broadcaster.
It remains one of the most famous commentary lines ever.