An Offaly good day

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Today, Sunday, September 1, 2019, sees Dublin attempt to make Gaelic games history.

Never before in senior men’s Gaelic football or hurling has a county team won five straight All-Ireland championships (it has happened in ladies’ football and camogie, the female equivalent of hurling).

Opposing Dublin (sky/navy blue) in the final are Kerry:

It’s rather fitting as, along with Wexford, Kerry are the only other county apart from Dublin to have won four in a row. The most recent of those was 1978-81, with Kerry minutes away from making it five in 1982, only to be denied by a late goal from Offaly’s Séamus Darby.

That game in 1982 was the counties’ fourth meeting in either a semi-final or final since 1972, with each encounter seeing a different kit match-up. These were the first-choice kits in 1972, necessitating a change:

Back then, the All-Ireland semi-finals were contested by the provincial champions from Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. When colour-clashes arose, teams wore the colours of their respective provinces – Leinster’s colour is green and Munster’s is blue.

Offaly did make one clever change though in that they adopted gold socks so that the overall kit look reflected the format of their usual patriotically coloured jerseys.

Offaly won that game but when the counties met next in the All-Ireland, the 1980 semi-final, Kerry were gunning for a three-in-a-row. As the 1970s had progressed, short sleeves and ‘proper’ change colours had become more popular and, while Kerry remained in blue, Offaly opted for a modern-looking white with green and gold trim.

Kerry triumphed and beat Roscommon in the final and they would win a fourth straight title in 1981, beating Offaly in the final on this occasion. Again, Offaly were in white, albeit a new design.

In the 1981 semi-final, Kerry – by now wearing adidas gear, produced under licence by Three Stripe International in Cork – had worn blue as they beat Mayo (who play in green and red).

However, for the final they changed tack and nominated green with gold trim as their alternative. While it seems bizarre that their first and second kits would have the same colour-scheme in different patterns, the fact that both counties change when a clash arises means it was allowed.

Once more, Kerry won and made it back to the 1982 final seeking to create history, with Offaly once again in opposition.

Offaly’s change kit only changed slightly from 1981, with the cuffs and shorts trim matching that of the collar and socks, while a crest was added too. Adidas had sought to create a special pinstriped Kerry alternative jersey but the GAA clamped down and insisted that a plain shirt be worn, as had been registered. This kit was produced at short notice, with the green noticeably lighter than usual.

Immortality beckoned for Kerry, but Darby’s late intervention made it Offaly’s day and that basic design of change kit would continue to be used by the county until the mid-2000s.

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