Recently we showed you 100 of Sportsfile’s best pictures from the year just gone. Now we are asking the photographers to give an insight into their favourites and the story behind the pictures.
This photo is from this year’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final between Dublin and Donegal.
The public and pundits alike were handing the All-Ireland Football Championship to Dublin all year. Donegal were the All-Ireland Champions from 2012 and three time Ulster Champions in recent times so were always going to be in with a shout in a semi-final.
Donegal defeating Dublin became the sports story of the day, if not the GAA inter-county season. At the end of such big matches, we have to take reaction photos of both teams, the celebration of winning and the dejection of losing. It’s rare enough to capture such an emotive photo after a senior intercounty men’s game.
Usually the best photos are of the celebrating team in the immediate aftermath after the final whistle but the defeated team stay on the pitch and may have their heads down or their hands on their heads for a few minutes so it’s easy enough to capture dejection photos. But we are always on the lookout for something special, something that sums up the story of the day in a single image. My job after the match that day was to stay on a long lens, in this instance a 500mm lens, shooting celebration or dejection pictures, whatever came my way.
Some of my other colleagues on the day were also shooting on long lenses while others were working on wide angle lenses to get a little closer. The long lens photo in these situations can be high risk, as other players, officials, other photographers can all get in your way and ruin a great photograph. But in this instance, I spotted Alan Brogan meeting his family pitchside in front of the Hogan Stand and taking his son into his arms to console the young boy but the angle I had wasn’t too clear but I knew a colleague was on the scene with a wide angle so I looked around for something else, but kept one eye on Alan in case he came my way.
After about 30 seconds or so, he started to make his way to the dressing-rooms with Jamie in his arms so I made an effort to get into position and just shot a few frames as they came walking directly towards me until they walked right past. On editing the pictures after, I knew it would be a good photo, instinct and experience teaches you that.
On closer inspection, the tear rolling down Alan’s left eye and the gaze straight towards my camera and ultimately towards the viewer makes the picture stand out from any other frame that I took that day, or indeed from any other photographer who might have photographed the pair at the same time.
It’s the emotion of the picture that makes it so engaging. I think it gives a little glimpse into the emotion that he feels in that moment, the disappointment he feels that his team have lost but also I think his emotion is magnified by having his son with him and the disappointment that his son feels. But no doubt Dublin will be back and Alan probably will be too. One of the greatest forwards of his generation would, I’ve no doubt, want to give it one last crack at Sam and go out a winner.
See the full set of Sportsfile Images of 2014 here: