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Article:Tyrone upset Kerry to win All-Ireland Football Final

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This may be new for ArmchairGM. An article about Gaelic Football!

The last weekend, the All-Ireland Final between Kerry and Tyrone took place at historic Croke Park in Ireland. First, a word about how it works.

In Ireland, there are 32 counties, split unevenly into 4 provinces, Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. Each province has a championship. Cork beat Kerry to win the Munster Championship, Dublin won the biggest section, the Leinster Championship. Galway won the Connacht Championship, which involved two foreign teams, from New York and London. Armagh won the Ulster Final, with Tyrone going out in the Ulster Quarter Finals.

Then, the All-Ireland series begins. All teams who are not in Division 4 of the Gaelic League who didn't win their Provincial Championship are allowed to qualify. This gave 16 counties the chance to qualify for the All-Ireland Quarter Finals. Tyrone, Kerry, Wexford and Kildare came through this series to advance to the All-Ireland Quarter Finals.

Of the provincial winners, only Cork made it to the Semi Finals, after beating Kildare. Galway lost to Kerry, Tyrone thrashed Dublin, and Wexford beat Armagh. Kerry prevailed against Cork after a replay, which was required after the first game ended in a draw. Tyrone beat Wexford in the other Semi Final. That left Kerry and Tyrone to play in the All-Ireland Final.

Now, a note on how it works. The basics are that each team has 15 players. At each end of the pitch (which is similar to a rugby/football pitch in shape, but bigger in length and width) there are goals, again like rugby posts, but wider. For kicking the ball over the bar, you score 1 (a point), and for kicking it into the goal, you score 3 (a goal). The scores are written as goal-points. E.g. the All-Ireland Semi Final between Kerry and Cork ended 1-13 3-7, which means it was a 16-16 tie. Kerry won the replay 3-14 2-13, i.e. 23-19. The 15 players play in five ranks of 3, apart from the middle rank, which has 2 players. The spare player there creates space for a goalkeeper to be used. This is a lot like a football goalkeeper. Unlike Association Football, players get to use their hands and run with the ball, but may take no more than 4 steps at any one time. It is worth noting that Hurling, the other big Irish sport, uses the same number of players, same pitch sizes, same scoring system, and many of the same rules. I think that's really nice, personally.

It's worth noting that all Gaelic Games are strictly amateur. You can't transfer players between counties, it's a bit like international sport. You play for where you live.

Anyway, the All-Ireland Final between Kerry and Tyrone was played. Kerry were huge favourites. Historically, Kerry have been an incredible county in Gaelic Football. They had won the All-Ireland 35 times, including four titles in a row at one stage twenty years ago. They were Champions in 2006 and 2007, too. Tyrone had only won it twice. This was akin to Kansas City (Tyrone) v New England (Kerry). Tyrone's goalkeeper's father had died in the leadup to the game, far from ideal preparation.

The first half was a close affair, with Kerry nudging ahead 0-08 0-07. Straight after half-time, Tommy McGuigan got the first goal for Tyrone. Kerry soon retook the lead, but Tyrone were not to be denied, scoring the last five points to run out winners, 1-13 to 0-14. A more in depth report can be read here.

So, Tyrone won the All-Ireland Senior Football Final of 2008. And so concludes, ArmchairGM's first ever Gaelic Football article (I think)!

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