| 9.2°C Dublin

Dirty Dozen final might not have been - Weeshie

IT has gone down in All-Ireland infamy and/or Dublin GAA lore. It was the September day in 1983 when 12 Sky Blue footballers - variously dubbed the 'Twelve Apostles' and the 'Dirty Dozen' - somehow conspired to claim the Sam Maguire spoils from 14-man Galway.

And according to a new book, the raging controversy that engulfed that year's final might never have happened if the author had been handed the whistle beforehand.

Weeshie Fogarty, the renowned radio broadcaster and GAA historian from Kerry, was then a leading inter-county referee. He had taken charge of All-Ireland senior semi-finals three years running, in 1981, '82 and '83. With Kerry not involved in the '83 decider, he thought his time had come.

Instead, what would prove a dubious honour befell Antrim's John Gough, who proceeded to send off four players. The following week, Fogarty retired himself from the inter-county list.

Fogarty has now retraced the controversy in his just-published memoir, My Beautiful Obsession (The Collins Press, €14.99). He admits his non-selection left him "bitterly disappointed"; claims Gough was "too inexperienced" for the big occasion; and blames Croke Park for the resultant on-field eruptions.

He writes: "It was a sign of the times and the new manner in which referees were appointed at that period when, to my shock, an official entered my dressing room following the 1983 semi-final between Galway and Donegal. I will never forget his words to me: 'You did a great job today, when you go back to Kerry make a few phone calls around and pull a few strings and you could get the final'.

"I was shocked by this attitude and, never having been a person to ask for favours of any description in my sporting life, needless to say I did not follow his advice and this may well be the reason I was not appointed," he speculates.


Fogarty recounts how the resultant final, played in atrocious conditions, is remembered for "all the wrong reasons". He goes on: "The match exploded into ill temper and violence and four players - Brian Mullins, Ray Hazley and Ciarán Duff of Dublin and Tomás Tierney of Galway - were sent to the line.

"The decisive goal came for Dublin when Barney Rock gained possession. Joe McNally of Dublin was lying injured on the ground close to the Galway goal and was being attended to by a posse of medical men and officials.

"I think the match should have been halted. Barney Rock, however, took advantage of the mix-up and, seeing the Galway goalkeeper Pádraig Coyne off his line, lobbed the ball in superb style from far outfield over the 'keeper's head into the net.

"It was the decisive score and the Dubs, who were affectionately tagged the 'Dirty Dozen', held out for a famous win."

The following week, the Kerry whistler wrote to Croke Park, informing those responsible for appointments that he was no longer available to referee at national level.

"I still feel Gough was too inexperienced for such an occasion and those in Croke Park ultimately responsible for his appointment were to blame for the happenings on the field, not the Antrim official," he concludes.