The 1947 All Ireland Football Final was played at at the Polo Grounds in New York and Michael O'Hehir recalls the challenges of relaying the action to listeners back home.
In 1947 the All Ireland Senior Football Final between Cavan and Kerry was played outside Ireland at the Polo Grounds in New York to mark the centenary of the Great Famine and to acknowledge the large Irish American community.
Pádraig Ó Caoimh (Paddy O’Keeffe) General Secretary of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) oversaw the staging of the unique event and of the radio broadcast back to Ireland. Radio Éireann commentator Michael O'Hehir went to provide commentary for listeners back home in Ireland. For the broadcast, a landline from the Polo Grounds connected to a transatlantic cable which then fed through to transmitters in Dublin, Athlone and Cork.
The lines had to be paid for in New York in advance and were booked up to 5 pm on the day of the game. This would give enough time for the match to be concluded and 30 mins for wrapping up after the match had finished.
But the organisers had not bargained for delays brought on by dignitaries being introduced to the teams and to the crowd before the match got underway. When the time neared 5 pm, O'Hehir was conscious there were still about 10 minutes left of the game. It was highly likely somebody could justifiably disconnect the Polo Grounds at 5 o’clock and there was,
Every indication that he might just pull out a plug and cut the broadcast off five minutes from the end.
In case somebody who could assist was listening to his broadcast he began to beg,
Just give us five minutes more.
He does not know if somebody heard his appeal but the five minutes was left on and the entire All-Ireland final from the Polo grounds was heard in Ireland.
Michael O’Hehir felt he was the link between home and this game and
It was the first time that I felt that I was doing something special for ordinary people in Ireland.
'The Game Is Not Over Yet' was broadcast on 19 August 1984. The reporter is Michael O'Hehir.
The 1947 All Ireland Football Final was played on the 14 September 1947. The final score was Cavan 2-11 Kerry 2-07