Off the Ball

Saturday 2 August 2014

Banishing hurt of '86 to inspire Laois in Aughrim

Colm Parkinson

Published 14/05/2014|02:30

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Legend has it that referee Carthage Buckley had to be escorted from the 1986 'Battle of Aughrim' in the boot of a car to protect him from incensed Laois fans
Legend has it that referee Carthage Buckley had to be escorted from the 1986 'Battle of Aughrim' in the boot of a car to protect him from incensed Laois fans

Off the Ball is back on the road again for the 2014 GAA championship season.

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We kick off our coverage this Sunday at Fortress Aughrim for the clash of Wicklow and Laois in the Leinster championship.

Laois supporters will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the infamous game in 1986 which became known as the 'Battle of Aughrim'.

Laois went into that game as red-hot favourites. Only six weeks earlier they had won the Division 1 title, beating Monaghan in Croke Park.

It was Laois' strongest team in years and they were expected to give Leinster a real go, but Wicklow had other ideas on that day. Despite Laois racing into a seven-point lead, they were clawed back by the home team, who ran out 2-10 to 1-9 winners.

But that's not the whole story. Referee Carthage Buckley sent off three Laois players, including the talismanic Tom Prendergast. Gerry Browne, another influential forward, left the field with a head injury.

It was a tough, brutal encounter. Many observers felt the more talented Laois team fell into the trap of being intimidated and provoked by the home team.

Legend has it Buckley was escorted from the ground in the boot of a car to protect him from the incensed Laois supporters baying for blood – although he denied it on the show last night.

Laois will be hoping to banish this awful memory on Sunday.

Irish Independent

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