In 1975 I was disappointed, but probably too young to realise the magnitude of that loss and certainly nobody was aware of the extent to which Kerry would dominate once the '76/'77 Dublin team had moved on.
1978 was a bitter pill to swallow. That Dublin team was still good enough to win but were swept aside in 7 or 8 minutes of madness.
1979 was the swansong, albeit they fell short at the final hurdle to a Kerry team that was really in its pomp. The Leinster Final victory that year was one of the sweetest, 14 on, 14 off, etc.
The early 80’s were bleak. Becoming the third best team in Leinster after Offaly and Laois. Mullins’s career seemingly over. But, Offaly’s victory over Kerry in '82 and Cork’s subsequent victory over Kerry in the '83 Munster Final gave hope to lots of counties that Kerry were no longer invincible. The '83 Leinster Final was the realisation that another All-Ireland was there to be won. Kerry were gone and we’d beaten the reigning All-Ireland Champions. But then John Allen and Dinny Allen (waving to the Hill after scoring) ran amok. But Ray Hazeley and Barney (amongst others) brought us back at the death to force the replay and Mullins’s greatest ever performance by the Lee saw Dublin win the replay. And then the 12 Apostles overcame Galway’s 14 in THAT final (a week after that final, TSG had a special show to look at where the game was at regarding on-field violence - no such show after the '96 final replay but, sure, Dublin weren’t involved so no need for hysteria).
'84 Final we never showed up, other than Mick Holden battling manfully to the end.
'85 was a repeat of '84 until Kearnsie started getting the measure of Jacko but Smokey’s two goals came a bit too late.
'86 and Barney’s shoulder… the start of a Meath period of dominance over Dublin to last until '91, other than Dully’s cracking goal in the '89 Leinster Final. Keith Barr and John O’Leary each having moments of madness in the semi-final against Cork cost us dearly. The one that got away for Gerry McCaul. Was Gerry Mc Dublin’s unluckiest manger since the days of Heffo’s Army?
And then there was the Mayo-esque pain of the early 90’s. The four-game saga against Meath. Paddy Cullen having no Plan B for Donegal in '92. Derry’s sucker-punch finish against us in '93. Overwhelmed in the first half against Down in '94 - the late charge falling just short. And then we fell over the line in '95, thanfully and also had the pleasure of one of our best ever performances when beating Meath in the Leinster Final.
Alarmingly, we had become very uncompetitive during these years at Minor and U21. This resulted in the barren years from '96 to 2001. No League titles. No Leinster titles. Failures against chokers such as Kildare. But Tommy Lyons’s team of 2002 delivered a Leinster title and restored some self-esteem in the team. Getting to All-Ireland U21 finals in '02 and '03 and winning the final in '03 finally showed that we once again had winners on board. But the mid/late noughties were tough years to make the breakthrough at senior level with Kerry re-establshed and Tyrone getting their rewards for consistent production of quality underage teams. But at least we had re-established ourselves as Leinster kingpins. The tough lessons learned from humiliating defeats to Tyrone ('08), Kerry ('09) and Meath ('10) along with the narrow defeats to Cork in 2010 and the NFL Final of 2011 put us in a position to become what we are today.
Since August and September of 2011, we have witnessed the greatest Dublin team in living memory. Those of us who can remember the bleak years will probably realise that what we have now cannot last forever. Those younger must learn to cherish these days and not take them from granted.
Kerry will be back. So will Cork, Galway, maybe too. Tyrone for certain. But savour these days for now.