Mid-December, and seemingly mid-apocalypse, it was, as Crokes forward Mick OKeeffe told the AIB-sponsored 'Club Chronicles' mini-documentary about the saga, "like the trenches in the Battle of the Somme".
Magee, writhing in the mud, was simultaneously immobilised by agony and unable to lie still such was the excruciating cold.
When he finally rose, the distinctive purple and gold of Crokes was barely visible under the quilt of muck and earth on his jersey. After 60 torturous minutes, the score stood at 0-7 to 0-7.
It being a replay, match regulations stipulated extra-time.
ire gs frenzied pursuit of their equalising point had drained every last droplet of energy from the team, though. So Joe Murphy, one of their players and the current manager of the Carlow club, approached referee Brian White.
"I knew we were spent at that stage," he admitted in the film. "Extra-time wasnt going to suit us. So I went over to Brian and I said: 'look Brian, my eyesight is very, very bad. Its going to become a health and safety issue if we play extra-time. I can barely see now. If something happens, someone is going to have to be held responsible.' It was sort of a bluff, just to see if we could do anything.
"But I think Brian had enough of the day as well. He was freezing as well. So he said 'OK, well go to a third game'.
That game was played on January 31, 1999 in Newbridge, the same venue as the first draw.
Ten minutes in, ire g were 1-5 to 0-1 up. Their goal was scored by Willie Quinlan, who missed the second match after having two of his ribs broken in the first game after a collision he wrongly suspected had involved Magee.
In the end, ire g won by three.
The result devastated Magee, who had invested heavily in trying to win a second provincial title for his club after his grandfather passed away during the saga.
"I was trying to do it for my Mam, my father and my family," he reflected tearily all of 20 years later.
"The feeling I had after that game was heartbreaking. You put your whole life on hold."
The story of that game was retold as a classic of the club fairy tale genre, the small side overcoming disadvantages of population and size to knobble the big one.
Yet the histories of the two clubs at the time made a fallacy of the easy clich.
"That was their fifth Leinster title in seven years," as Magee points out now. "And yet, for some reason, we were heavy favourites."
It wouldnt be the last time Magee found himself in the role of vanquished Goliath in a Leinster club final.
Last year he was joint-manager of Crokes when they were beaten by Mullinalaghta, the half-parish on the Longford/Cavan border who became the first club from Longford to compete in a Leinster final.
The GAA nation rejoiced. Size didnt matter after all.
Heart. Pride. Parish.
These were celebrated as forces far stronger than the benefits of numbers and facilities.
The Friday after the final, the Mullinalaghta squad made an appearance on The Late Late Show.
"That was pretty hard," Magee admits now.
"Like, Mullinalaghta didnt have the monopoly on heart and desire and the sense of parish.
"Thats not why they beat us. They beat us because they played better in the final and fair play to them.
"Stillorgan is seen as this big, populated area and yeah, our membership has shot through the roof. But were still proud of our parish, even though its a bigger one.
"Any time weve won a county championship and you go on in Leinster theres such a buzz and a vibe around the club.
"It brings everyone together and its a special thing to be part of. Thats the very same for a big, Dublin club as it is for a small rural one."
The anatomy of a Leinster club final shock is one Magee has studied in painful depth.
For a start, size is over-rated. Club success is about the blend of the people in your squad at the relevant moments, not the number of quality of players who dont make it.
"Peoples perception of club football is always coloured by their perception of inter-county football," he stresses.
Magee has won and lost in Leinster and he is convinced the intricacies of winter football are too unpredictable to negotiate without fortune and favour.
Late in the first game against ire g in 1998, Ray Cosgrove bent a shot from under the stand in St Conleths Park towards the town end goal.
To most people in Newbridge that day, the curve of his kick had lured it comfortably inside the post, although the umpire waved for a wide.
Last year, as Magee recalls, Crokes conceded a penalty in the last minute to Mullinalaghta.
Paul Mannion had blazed a scorching trail through the Dublin and Leinster championships but a hamstring injury finally caught up with him.
Ditto Cian OSullivan.
And the extreme elements under which these games are played form the perfect conditions for a surprise.
"Club football in December is completely different to club football even at the end of October," Magee reckons.
"The ground is different.
"You cant recover from making a mistake in winter football the way you can in summer football because of the conditions.
"Winter football is a huge leveller when it comes to pace around the field."
Experience is a strong currency.
Last year was Crokes' first Dublin SFC title in eight years and their turnover of players was such that only a handful had been part of their last Leinster campaign.
Mullinalaghta had completed a three-in-a-row of Longford titles and their graph in Leinster was pointing skyward after two competitive winters.
It stood to them against Crokes.
As the possibility of one of the shocks of the GAA season rose with each wasted Crokes possession and each turnover Mullinalaghta forced, the Longford side seemed to cling ever more tightly to their script while the Dublin team forgot theirs.
"We went away a bit from the game plan, which happens when youre under pressure and you dont have that sort of experience," Magee says. "We invited trouble on to ourselves and we got punished for it.
"But they were a much more experienced side than we were. The same with ire g.
"They would have much more recent experience going into the Leinster championship than Ballyboden."
On Sunday, ire g compete in their first Leinster final since beating Kilmacud Crokes on the last day of January, 1999.
They play a Ballyboden St Endas team who have made a habit this year of starting games slowly and finishing like a bullet train.
For all the Firhouse teams expected presence in Portlaoise as soon as they won Dublin, ire g are have been edging back to a provincial final these past three years.
And given how vivid their memory of their golden years is, theyll have envisaged the possibility of being kings of Leinster again as soon as they won Carlow.
Other than St Vincents and Portlaoise (seven each), no team has as many Leinster titles as ire g, and no-one in the competitions history has had such a concentration of success as they had in those seven years in the nineties.
In an organisation as obsessed with tradition as the GAA, that can have a deep effect on a teams mindset.
Sen Gannon, one of their key men this year, said as much last week.
"Youd have to have this goal in your sights. Its attainable. Its achievable," he stressed.
"It probably comes from the history of the club and the success in the ninetieswere confident people."
As their manager, Joe Murphy prophetically predicted at the start of this year when he contributed to the AIB video about ire gs last great triumph.
"This club is always chasing.that chase will always remain."
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Go here to read the rest:
'The feeling I had after that game was heartbreaking' - The anatomy of a Leinster final shock - Independent.ie
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