Completely biased here but for me it has to be 2005.
Set your clock to 10th of July and it's Ulster final day in Croker. Huge crowd and great weather sets the scene for the Stevie O'Neill show as he scores 10 points off Francie out of Tyrone's tally of 14. Armagh end the game with a double sucker punch from McDonnell and McGrane. I can still see the ball leaving McGrane's boot from my vantage point directly above the Hill 16 goals and knowing that it was going straight over the black spot. We got some slagging from Armagh fans around us as we made the cardinal sin of singing 'cheerio' to Armagh fans who were making an early get away. Valuable life lesson learned.
In other news; Galway, Kerry and Dublin make it through their respective provinces.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM1F-kdVj1khttp://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/northern_ireland/gaelic_games/4670081.stm
Fast forward to the 23rd July and Tyrone have Armagh on the wrack again only for young Canavan to be sent off in the 54th minute with O'Neill seeing red six minutes later. Tyrone don't score after Canavan's injustice (
) and Armagh steal the Ulster crown. However, the red hands will have the last laugh in late August. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/northern_ireland/gaelic_games/4710545.stmhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG8jWZ4g7Nc
Tyrone get things back on track with a routine win over Monaghan in the back door to set up a date with the Dubs in Croker on the 13th August. The Dubs have us in bother at half time with Mossy Quinn scoring a last second goal to go in 5 points up. Tyrone are stuttering and Mugsy hasn't been firing all year, the supporters are losing patience until the 49th minute when Mugsy drops two outrageous dummies and almost tears the net off to set us on our way to a 1-14 apiece draw.
The other Quarter finals pit Kerry against Mayo. Kerry make mince meat of Mayo early in the game and Mayo fight back but fall short, losing by three points. Armagh take care of Laois with little fuss and Cork dispatch Galway.http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/northern_ireland/gaelic_games/4149032.stmhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3G1bwD0ao0
To this date I never experienced an atmosphere quite like the 41st to 49th minute in Croke park in the semi final replay from 2005. We had taken a very comfortable lead following an earlier Stephen O'Neill penalty and were 1-11 to 0-06 up in the 40th minute. Cue a run of five Dublin scores from Keaney, Quinn and Shane Ryan and the roof was in danger of collapsing around us. The wall of noise was spectacular. The dubs dreams were dashed in the most clinical fashion by the one and only Mugsy. Who can forget the stare into the hill after cracking the ball past Cluxton. Tyrone go on to wrap up a comfortable win in the end with Dessie Farrell marking his last game the Dubs colours with a goal in the dying moments. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx3633ea-4I
We meet again. From a personal point of view this was an absolute killer, I had a holiday booked with mates to the S France and ended up in a resort without a single Irish bar (who knew that this was even possible!) Having to rely on the aul boy texting me through score updates tested my inner resolve in a way that I had never encountered. Got the text to say Tyrone equalise through S Sweeney in dying seconds and as the minutes pass the heart rate sails north of 150bpm. The phone beeps and we know this is it, either draw or someone will be hitting the floor hard. "CANAVAN WINS IT FOR TYRONE YEEEEEEEEHAAAAAA" if memory serves me right that was the message Verbatim. Cue four pasty white boys jumping, roaring and singing in a random street in S France with a host of confused locals watching on.
Kerry demolish Cork in the other semi to set up a grudge match on the third Sunday of September. Completely biased here but for me it has to be 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/northern_ireland/gaelic_games/4213584.stm
Forgetting the drama in the months before, the final itself could arguably be described as one of the greatest of the modern era. Kerry's early goal rocked us back but we came back strong throughout the 1st half which culminated in Canavan's goal and McGuigan's quick fire point to go in leading at half time. I still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when Tomas lashed the ball into the roof of the net and thinking that we're f**ked but we dealt with it and prevailed in the end. Watching the youtube clip back reminded me how fortunate that Kerry goal was, two shots by O'Se and Brosan superbly blocked and each time it couldn't have landed better for the Kerry attacker. There was a higher power wearing green and gold that day , for sure!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox3JvP4OxZ4