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Bottle of brandy fuelled famous victory

It was the goal that broke Kerry hearts and shattered their dreams of a historic five All-Ireland titles in a row.

But in a revelation that will rub salt in Kingdom wounds, still raw enough 29 years on, it has now emerged that Seamus Darby's piledriver was fuelled by half a bottle of brandy the night before the final.

Mr Darby had been drafted into the Offaly panel in time for that year's Leinster Final in which he scored 1-3, but pulled a hamstring and watched the 1982 semi-final against Galway from the sideline.

He was listed as a sub for the big one, but the night before the final he was inveigled by his brother-in- law, journalist Kevin Farrell, to join him for a drink at his house.

In a new book, It's All News To Me, Mr Farrell recounts what happened after he rang the keyed-up Mr Darby, who had just attended the pre-match team meeting in Tullamore.

Mr Farrell had a bottle of brandy at his house and he asked Mr Darby to bring him up some cigarettes and a bottle of lemonade from McCormack's bar, owned by Offaly legend Paddy.

"We often laughed and wondered if the punters at McCormack's pub that night admired Darby for buying a bottle of lemonade and heading home. Being a good boy before the big occasion," recalled Mr Farrell.

In the book, Mr Farrell tells how eventually the bottle of brandy was opened and using a stainless steel egg cup as a measure, the two men had a few drinks.

"After some time the egg cup fell on the ground and no one bothered to pick it up. We managed to pour the rest without a measure or without spilling any. We polished off the bottle of brandy."

Before the night ended, Mr Darby decided to ring Fr John McWey, a parish priest who had a reputation as a healer because of dozens of stories of hospital visits made by him to pray over seriously-ill parishioners who then returned to full health.

Fr McWey, known affectionately as Fr Jack, also had a reputation for bringing good luck, and he and Mr Darby chatted about the game.

"Of course Father, you do know I'm only a sub tomorrow," Mr Darby said.

The late Fr McWey, who was then based in Kilcock, replied: "I know that Seamus, but you'll be brought in, and you'll score a goal, goodnight now." The rest is GAA history.

Time was ticking away in the final the following day with Kerry two points up. A long ball in from Liam Connor was dropping between Mr Darby and Kerry defender Tommy Doyle. It was Mr Darby who came down with the ball, turned and swung a powerful left boot. The rain danced from the back of the Kerry net. Offaly were All- Ireland champions and Kerry were shattered.

Sunday Independent