ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL

Dublin lift All-Ireland cup as 55-year Mayo 'curse' lives on

Dublin confirmed their status as pre-match favourites with a narrow 18-17 victory, giving them a second successive All-Ireland triumph

Dublin lift All-Ireland cup as 55-year Mayo 'curse' lives on

The biggest crowd in Europe on Saturday was not watching detached professionals kissing the badge of their latest football team, but at the All-Ireland Gaelic football final.

Two amateur teams, Dublin and Mayo, fought it out for the coveted All-Ireland trophy in a replay following a rare draw two weeks ago.

Every year players from 32 counties across Ireland, plus teams of emigrants in London and New York, compete for the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Sam McGuire Cup.

On Saturday evening, fans from all over the globe crammed into Dublin's 82,300-capacity Croke Park, some having paid many multiples of the 60 euros ($67) ticket price.

"It beats the World Cup" - Roy Keane 

"The All-Ireland final will beat any World Cup final or European final, trust me," says former Manchester United and Ireland football captain Roy Keane. "It's about local pride, that's what GAA is -- people representing their parishes and the streets where they grew up.

"Gaelic football in Ireland is different. They don't move clubs when they get fed up. They represent the people they're brought up with."

Ireland's national sport mixes the pace, power and skill-sets of football, rugby and basketball. Encounters are typically bruising affairs where fouls can be difficult to define. It is not a sport for the faint of heart.

The pitch is similar to a rugby union pitch, but larger, while the goals at each end are H-shaped with football-style goal nets extending behind them.

The scoring is relatively simple: three points for a goal and one if the ball, which is like a standard football only slightly smaller, is kicked or punched over the bar and between the posts.

Dublin win second-successive cup 

Dublin confirmed their status as pre-match favourites with a narrow 18-17 victory, giving them a second successive All-Ireland triumph.

The game was on a knife-edge until the last minute. Dublin were a point ahead and Mayo had the chance to equalise from a free-kick, only for Cillian O'Connor to shoot wide.

Mayo, a county on the western seaboard, have not lifted the trophy since 1951. It was the first replay in 16 years and was worth more than three million euros to the GAA coffers.

The Mayo 'curse' 

In the first game, Mayo snatched a draw deep in additional time, but many analysts believed they deserved to have won, prompting much discussion of 'the curse' that supposedly hangs over the county.

The story goes that the last time Mayo won the trophy in 1951 they failed to pay their respects while passing a funeral as they went through the county on a victorious homecoming journey.

As a result, a priest apparently warned that Mayo would never win another All-Ireland until all of them had died. Two of that team are still alive.