Treasures of Lár na Páirce No 24

The Boots that Lobbed the Goal in 1978
Side by side in one of the display cases in Lár na Páirce are the respective football boots of Mikey Sheehy and Paddy Cullen, the two players who dominate the conversation whenever the All-Ireland football final of 1978 in mentioned.
Both pairs of boots are made by Puma, the only difference being that the Sheehy pair have orange markings, while the Cullen pair have white. As well the Sheehy pair are size 10, while the Cullen pair don’t give a size but they look bigger. One of the Cullen boots is signed in neat handwriting: Paddy Cullen, 1977, while there is no signature on the Sheehy pair.
The episode between the two players in the 1978 All-Ireland final happened just before half-time. Dublin had the best of the exchanges early on, but Kerry had come back with a goal in the twenty-fourth minute to leave them trailing by just one point. Kerry were attacking, and Paddy Cullen came out of the Dublin goal to clear the ball. As he did so referee, Seamus Aldridge, blew for a free. Nobody knew for what and the referee never revealed what it was for afterwards. Some thought that Cullen had picked it off the ground, others that he had brushed unnecessarily against Ger Power, and the couple had a few earlier incidents between them.
Con Houlihan described the scene vividly in the Evening Press: ‘Paddy put on a show of righteous indignation that would get him a card from Equity, throwing up his hands to heaven as the referee kept pointing to the goal. And while all of this was going on, Mike Sheehy came running up to take the kick – and suddenly Paddy dashes back like a woman who smells a cake burning. The ball won the race and curled inside the near post as Paddy crashed into the outside of the net and lay against it like a fireman who had returned to find his station ablaze.’
As Mikey Sheehy said later: ‘I saw that Paddy was off the line and just had a go. There wasn’t a sinner around. Everybody stood static as I kicked the ball into the Dublin net.’
As he did so Cullen suddenly realised the danger and scrambled backwards in vain. He failed to get back in time, in fact crashed backwards into the side of the net to his great embarrassment. Later he said: ‘There was no whistle. It is unusual that there would be no whistle for a free from that distance. And the referee had his back to the kicker. It was a lot of egg on my face.’
The goal put Kerry ahead by 2-3 to 0-7 and they went on to rout Dublin in the second half and win by 5-11 to 0-9. As well as the humiliation of the defeat, Paddy Cullen has had to endure seeing his humiliation repeated on Facebook thousands of times since then.
The incident overshadows everything else about the game, the huge score, the start of Kerry’s four-in-row, the end of the great contests between Kerry and Dublin, which had brought such excitement to Gaelic football during the seventies, and the fact that Eoin Liston scored 3-2 in the game, the highest recorded score in an All-Ireland final since Frankie Stockwell scored 2-5 in the 1956 decider.

hy and Paddy Cullen's boots from

Mikey Sheehy and Paddy Cullen’s boots from 1978