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Scannal

Scannal! Game of Shame

All-Ireland Final day is the most important day of the year in the GAA calendar and many games have gone down in history as unforgettable classics which enthralled the nation.
Unfortunately the 1983 Football Final between Dublin and Galway is remembered for all the wrong reasons. It was a game full of thuggery and ugliness, where 4 players were sent off and others were lucky not to join them.

"People had witnessed something never seen before, an All-Ireland final where one team finished with 12 men and the other team with 14."
Mártan Ó Ciardha, Raidió na Gaeltachta

It is impossible to locate the exact source of the disgraceful scenes which marred the final as there was no history of violence in previous clashes between the sides. Ironically both Dublin and Galway were lucky to have reached the final at all, as both needed late goals in the semi-finals to stay in the championship. Dublin salvaged a draw with Cork thanks to a Barney Rock goal in injury time before beating them in a memorable replay in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, while Galway defeated an unlucky Donegal thanks to a Brian O'Donnell strike.

GAA fans were looking forward to the final in '83 as both counties had a proud footballing tradition, and it was also the first final since 1977 that didn't involve Kerry.
Conditions were terrible on the day of the match with the gale force wind and driving rain making it impossible for the players to play constructive football, and the physical battle was more intense than usual. The game was full of dangerous sliding tackles and heated exchanges between players was frequent.

"If you study the match again, the first dig was thrown by Galway."
Barney Rock, Dublin Player

"We would be getting stuck in there's no doubt about that. There's no point in playing Gaelic Football unless you're going to get stuck into the guy."
Brian Talty, Galway Player

Barney Rock scored a bizarre goal from 40 years after a poor free-out from Galway goalkeeper Padraig Coyne. Galway protested claiming that the goal should not have been allowed due to Dublin manager Kevin Heffernan interfering with play as he attended to the injured Joe McNally, but referee John Gough did not agree and the goal stood.

Then things turned sour for Dublin.
After a tussle in midfield, Dublin legend Brian Mullins swung back his arm and connected with Brian Talty, sending him crashing to the ground. The referee decided to send Mullins off.

"If I look back on it, a lot of thoughts run through my mind. It happened and I had to accept it."
Brian Mullins, Dublin Player

"It's hard to remember back because it was such a hard belt! The memory of it is nearly gone, or maybe I don't want to remember."
Brian Talty, Galway Player

Shortly before half-time a number of players clashed beneath the Hogan Stand and to the crowds amazement John Gough decided to send off a player from each side, Ray Hazley from Dublin and Tomás Tierney of Galway.

"In my view neither player deserved to be given their marching orders. But perhaps another one of our players was lucky that he wasn't sent off."
Stephen Joyce, Galway Player

The referee's whistle for half-time brought a ceasefire of sorts, however players clashed in the tunnel and although rumours circulated for years about the incident, whatever happened in the tunnel stayed in the tunnel. Interestingly though, Brian Talty of Galway never returned for the second half.

"Brian Mullins came in after for Brian Talty. I ran in and stood in his way."
Stephen Joyce, Galway Player

Five minutes after the restart another unsavoury incident led to the dismissal of Ciaran Duff of Dublin after he kicked Galway's Pat O'Neill while he was on the ground. All of a sudden it was 14 men against 12 on a day which did nothing for the reputation of Gaelic football or for the GAA.

"I'm sure Ciaran will always look back on it as a moment of madness."
Barney Rock, Dublin Player

Dublin's '12 Apostles' defended superbly against the onslaught of Galway attacks and held out for a famous win by a margin of 2 points, but the controversy tended to overshadow the Dubs' great achievement.
After the match some Galway officials depicted Dublin as a squad of hitmen with no regard for decency or fair play. In reality Galway's inept use of 2 extra men was the main reason of their downfall.

"The '12 Apostles' had beaten us. It wasn't easy to take."
Stephen Joyce, Galway Player

The following morning's newspapers coverage had very little to do with the actual game, but focused on the ugliness of the match and also reported on the poor supervision at exits and the terrible crushing in the Canal End and on Hill 16, where a fan was stabbed. There were reports of clashes amongst supporters after the match and of buses full of Galway fans being stoned as they left Dublin.

"For the first time in my life I was really scared at a football match. People were pushing and shoving."
Antoin Delap, GAA Fan

"I was in the hill. I was 13 at the time and the one thing you can't forget was the sheer crush in the crowd. It was frightening."
David Whelan, Dublin Fan

The pressure was on the GAA authorities to act fast and deal with the controversy on the pitch, but it took weeks for the organisation to sort out all the disciplinary matters arising from the final. When the punishments were announced Dublin felt aggrieved believing they were handed far too much of the responsibility for the controversies.
Ciaran Duff was banned for 12 months, Brian Mullins for 5 months, their manager Kevin Heffernan received a 3 month ban while Ray Hazley got a month. 2 players from Galway, Tomás Tierney and Peter Lee were both suspended for 1 month each. Both county boards were also fined.

"At the end of the day it was a major achievement. Everyone had a winners medal and we were extremely proud."
Brian Mullins, Dublin Player

This week's episode of Scannal relives that infamous final of 1983 through the eyes of 4 players involved, Brian Mullins and Barney Rock of Dublin and Brian Talty and Stephen Joyce of Galway along with extensive use of the match footage. The players talk about the build-up to the match, the conditions on the day, the sendings-off, the tunnel incident and the aftermath.
We hear the views of Mártan Ó Ciardha of Raidió na Gaeltachta who was working in Croke Park on the day of the match. 2 fans also recall how much they feared for their well-being due to the overcrowding in both terraces.

Producer/Director Seán Ó Méalóid

Presenter/Reporter Garry Mac Donncha

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