Dara O'Cinneide on the significant Gaeltacht presence on both sides of the 2000 All Ireland divide

Galway counterpart Sean Og De Paor joined him on Off The Ball to reminisce

Dara O'Cinneide, Kerry, Galway, 2000,

Dara O'Cinneide of Kerry and Kevin Walsh of Galway ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

When the 2000 All Ireland Football final threw in, there were a significant number of native Irish speakers on both the Galway and Kerry panels.

On the Kingdom side, Dara O'Cinneide was one of the An Gaeltacht players, while Sean Og De Paor from An Cheathrú Rua on the opposite team.

The two joined Off The Ball to talk about that linguistic aspect of the final. 

"It was something we very conscious of at the time," said O'Cinneide of the significance of the strong representation of An Gaeltacht players.

"And we were even conscious of the boys on the opposite side as well, Sean Og [De Paor] and Sean Ó Dómhnaill from An Cheathrú Rua because they had beaten us in the Comortas Peil three years previously and we would have come across them over the years in the Comortas Peile which was always a great way of bringing the Gaeltacht clubs together. But it was something we were very conscious of."

It coincided with a good period for An Gaeltacht as a club, O'Cinneide explained.

Sean de Paor of Galway and Michael F Russell of Kerry ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

"As a club, we were on the way up at the time around 2000 and we were beaten in the county final that year and it took us until the following year to win our first senior. But it was only seven or eight years earlier that we were out of Junior B ranks. We had a golden generation that came together at the time, we managed to hold them and very few of them emigrated," he said.

Meanwhile, De Paor explained that the Irish-speaking Galway players would have had a bond of sorts with the Kerry counterparts from the Gaeltacht for years leading up to that final.

"Going back through the years before the 2000 All Ireland final, we would have had a bit of a relationship with the lads from An Gaeltacht and Kerry. An Cheathrú Rua got invited down to Paidi [O'Se]'s very first tournament which has flourished since. So it gave us an opportunity as Galway players - well, Gaeltacht players - to mix and mingle with the lads from An Gaeltacht. So we knew them better than the other players on the Kerry team at that stage," he said.  

He also added that if he and O'Cinneide met on the street, it would be through Irish that they would naturally speak rather than English and explained how nice that has been link to Gaeltachts from different parts of the country.

De Paor also spoke of his pride when he heard Kerry captain Darragh O'Se give the winning speech in Irish four years later.