#OTD in 1947 – All-Ireland Football Final played at the Polo Grounds, New York.

The 1947 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final was the sixtieth All-Ireland Final and the deciding match of the 1947 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, an inter-county Gaelic football tournament for the top teams in Ireland.

For the first and only time, the final was played outside Ireland, at the Polo Grounds in New York City, to cater to the large Irish-American community there. The New York final was also intended to observe the centenary of the Great Hunger that triggered mass Irish emigration to the U.S. and other countries. Around 30,000 people were in the ground for the final. Cavan travelled by air and Kerry by sea; the Ulster team credited their victory partially to their shorter time spent travelling. The Cavan team flew via the Azores, taking 30 hours. Kerry’s trip by Ocean Liner took much longer.

Mick Higgins, a key member of the Cavan team that day, recalled: “There was no huge send-off for us in Cavan, but both teams got a good reception in New York when we arrived. I remember the team stayed in the Commodore Hotel, but I stayed with my relatives.” He also remembered there was “oppressive heat” during the game itself.

After a slow start, Cavan fought back to lead 2-5 to 2-4 at the break and went on to win by four points. McGoldrick scored eight points from frees and was called “the Babe Ruth of Gaelic football” in the New York press. Michael O’Hehir broadcast radio commentary back across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Cavan team returned to Ireland aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Higgins recalled, “It was only after we arrived in Southampton that we realised the joy of it all. Large numbers of Cavan people turned up to see us in London and Birmingham. We were treated like kings in Cavan.”

The 1947 All-Ireland final brought about an understanding that a large audience existed for Gaelic games highlights.

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