Thursday 19 September 2019

The supersub: 'Only Leslie Deegan was capable of converting that particular score'

The unsung hero who put the Dubs on the road to Sam

Members of the All-Ireland Football winning Dublin team of 1974, from left, Bobby Doyle, Leslie Deegan, Paddy Cullen and the late Anton O'Toole with the Sam Maguire in attendance at a 40th anniversary reception hosted by the Dublin Airport Authority. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Members of the All-Ireland Football winning Dublin team of 1974, from left, Bobby Doyle, Leslie Deegan, Paddy Cullen and the late Anton O'Toole with the Sam Maguire in attendance at a 40th anniversary reception hosted by the Dublin Airport Authority. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Kevin Nolan

Kevin McManamon and Cormac Costello are among Dublin's modern day 'supersubs', men who came off the bench to make match-winning contributions on championship days.

Back in 1974 it was Leslie Deegan.

There's a minute remaining in the 1974 Leinster SFC quarter-final at Longford's Pearse Park and the Dubs are level against reigning provincial holders, Offaly.

Offaly's Seán Lowry wins a kick-out and goes on the attack in search of a winner but Stephen Rooney makes a great block and shifts possession to Brian Mullins. Mullins thunders forward and flicks the ball to sub Leslie Deegan, who with three defenders converging and slightly off-balance, slots over from 30 metres.

Deegan had replaced Fran Ryder in the first half and apart from this match-winning point he also scored the only goal of the game in Dublin's 1-11 to 0-13 shock victory.

Offaly, going for their fourth Leinster title in a row, are out and the Jacks are on the move.

The year would culminate, against all odds and expectations, with the Dubs as All-Ireland champions with Deegan's crucial point etched in the history books.

Manager Kevin Heffernan years later claimed that, of all the Dublin footballers, only Leslie Deegan was capable of converting that particular score.

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"It was a wonderful score," remembered Heffernan. "Leslie was a unique player. And it came about through hard work. I always compliment Stephen Rooney when I meet him; Stephen tracked back from midfield and blocked down an Offaly shot that day and started the move. I always say Stephen, 'you only did it the once but it worked well'."

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