by Con Murphy

We did a preview of the FAI Ford Cup Final on this week’s MNS.

Those of you with sharp powers of observation, or indeed, with not so sharp powers of observation, may have noticed that the preview didn’t contain footage of the 1978 final at Dalymount Park. That was the last time Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers came face to face in the Cup final.

The RTÉ cameras were there to record proceedings for posterity.

Did Paul Fielding actually foul Steve Lynex for the penalty that led to the only goal of the game?

How cool was Ray Treacy’s conversion of that penalty?

How close to an equaliser did the Bit O’Red come?

Loads of questions, and the recording of the match would answer some, if not all of them.

The problem is that when I said RTÉ recorded proceedings for posterity, I wasn’t taking into account the fact that some genius in the 1980s decided to wipe lots of tapes for reuse as a cost-cutting measure when RTÉ was struggling financially. One of the tapes that was wiped was the 1978 FAI Cup final.

I know it sounds incomprehensible now, and I struggle to believe that someone could have been allowed do that without checking with powers higher up in the organisation, but amazing and disappointing as it sounds, it happened.

Whoever gave the go ahead for this policy, if they are still alive, can only imagine the damage they have done.

It means that those of us charged with putting together a preview of this weekend’s final are hamstrung by the lack of video footage of the ’78 final.

I’m presuming that 1978 was pre-video recorder days, and therefore nobody has a rough copy of the match on a tape in the attic that they could lend to us. Even if someone in the crowd had a rough cine film of the game we would be very interested in seeing it, and possibly enhancing the pictures.

Sport wasn’t the only victim of this crazy policy.

Lots of classic Late Late Shows and variety programmes were also wiped indiscriminately. My father used to appear as a panellist on a quiz programme on RTÉ Television in the 1970s called ‘What’s my line?’, hosted by Larry Gogan, all of which have been wiped. All he has to remind him of those days are a couple of publicity photographs shot in the studio on the day of one of the broadcasts.

That lack of foresight contrasts with what’s happening in Irish football now. Whether you like MNS, or loathe it, at least every goal from every premier Division match will be available to future generations.

Fans, club historians, players, referees, and yes, TV presenters. We’ll all be able to look back in the years to come at the events of a particular season and all the big incidents will be there for all the see and judge.

Take for example last night’s promotion-relegation play off at the Carlisle Grounds. For those of you who stayed up late to watch our highlights package, or for those who've since watched it on the RTÉ Player or the MNS website, you'll no doubt have been taken by the last-minute drama that could not have been scripted.

To say it was like a storyline out of Roy of the Rovers would be an understatement.

Chris Shields went from the desolation of an own goal that looked to have relegated his team to scoring the winning penalty in just a matter of minutes and his celebration reflected what a funny old game football is.

Speaking of celebrations, the collapse of the perimeter wall at the Carlisle Grounds for the second time in as many seasons is a cause for major concern. Monaghan had nothing like the numbers of fans that Shamrock Rovers had at the Wicklow venue a couple of weeks ago, and the thought of what could have happened then doesn't bear thinking about.

At this stage I can't say for certain, but thankfully it looked from our pictures as if nobody was badly hurt when the wall collapsed under the strain of the Monaghan fans celebrations, but I did see photographer Donall Farmer very close to the incident seated in front of the wall and if it had collapsed on top of him we could be looking at a very grim outcome.

Needless to say, this situation is going to have to be rectified before the start of next season now that Bray remain in the top flight, although it would have to be rectified no matter what division the club were in.

I have huge sympathy for Monaghan who have had a great season under Mick Cooke, and as Roddy said on this weeks programme, Mick puts in great work over and above the call of duty with Monaghan and it would be nice to think he and the club will get their reward next term.

As for Bray, what can you say? Pat Devlin has made a big impact in turning things around, and players like Danny O'Connor and Matt Gregg have brought a level of experience to the squad that was missing. That seems to have made all the difference. I've said here before, that I like going to matches in Bray and I'm glad they've stayed up, but it's always sad that there has to be a loser after a match like we had the other night.

I thought it was interesting to look at the state of the pitch at the Carlisle Grounds for the play-off mach. If you wanted an argument against winter football, that pitch would be a strong card to play.

Finally for now, if you’re going along to the Cup final on Sunday, have a great day.

Let’s hope the weather is kinder on Sunday than it’s been the last few years for the big day. I know the weather in November is never likely to be particularly warm, or sunny, but the wind and rain that’s dogged the Cup final over the last few years has been worse than you’d expect if you were to average out November weather conditions in general.

May the best team win, and I’d like to be the first to congratulate SRFC in advance!