The summer of 1991 saved Gaelic football. Just in time too.
The country had spent the previous summer in a mood of elation when Ireland qualified for the soccer World Cup finals for the first time ever. Gaelic football was in danger of being left behind — a jaded casualty of Ireland’s new status as a top ten soccer nation.
Instead, it was saved by three unlikely events. The GAA decided not to seed the stronger teams in the Leinster championship. Two of the best supported teams were drawn against each other in the opening round. And incredibly, it took four matches and one of the most dramatic finishes in history before there was a winner.
What happened in 1991 was about the reinvention of a sport, wresting it from its obsession with its own legacy and engaging with a brighter, more confident future back at the heart of popular culture.
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