What comes next? 'The Dubs will be back..of that you can be sure' - Tony Hanahoe's 1978 Dublin GAA Yearbook interview
Tony Hanahoe enjoyed a long and illustrious Dublin career. At the end of the 1978 season he reflected on a summer that had something of a controversial conclusion
Here we republish Tommy McQuaid’s article from that year’s Dublin GAA Yearbook.
Tommy McQuaid: Well Tony, another year has come and gone and while Dublin failed to make the three in-a-row; they did take the League title and a fifth successive Leinster Championship, not to mention a fifth All-Ireland football final appearance. If Dublin had achieved those kind of honours prior to '74 they would be the toast of the nation. But, now, after their record-shattering performances of the last five years, such achievements are not taken for granted, but in the eyes of many out the county, 1978 will be recalled as they year the Super Dubs finally 'bit the dust'. Would you subscribe to the pessimistic views that the Dubs are finished?
Tony Hanahoe: While the present Dublin team have been together for many years now, I think it must be accepted that some changes in personnel are inevitable. However, when such changes become necessary, I am confident we have an adequate number of players, both willing and capable of stepping into the vacant shoes of their predecessors. But having said that, I still feel the present team are far from finished in the accepted sense of the word. I would anticipate the majority of the '78 final team will still be very much in business in the coming '79 Championship campaign.
TMcQ: Apart from the Portalaoise game against Offaly, Dublin's road to their fifth All-Ireland Final was eventful. Kildare and Down did not present much difficulty, although one must be fair to Down, who were unfortunate to have a man sidelined after playing some attractive football for the first 15 minutes. But to get back to the Offaly game, did Dublin go into this game not fully tuned up; was it a case of over-confidence, or, are Offaly as good as they looked on the day?
TH: Offaly have always been formidable Championship campaigners, particularly against Dublin. On the day in question in Portlaoise, Offaly played with great enthusiasm and must be considered unfortunate to have gone down after such a gallant display. Admittedly we had some injuries but probably complacency was our biggest enemy. This is not meant, in any way, to detract from Offaly's performance. Both Down and Kildare were unfortunate, in our respective games with them, insofar as both teams were reduced to 14 men at certain stages of each particular game. It is difficult enough, on most occasions, to win a Championship tie, but with 14 men the task becomes next to impossible.
TMcQ: In view of the fact that the winners of the Dublin/Offaly game were due to meet Kildare in the Leinster final, do you think it was fair, to either side, to have a Kildare official (Seamus Aldridge) in charge of the game?
TH: No, I do not, and I think it is a matter the Leinster Council might well consider for future competitions. The Leinster Championship is particularly competitive, being fortunate in having a number of very good football teams involved. Consequently, the appointment of an official to take charge of each game is a matter which requires tremendous consideration and prudence.
TMcQ: Without doubt the burning topic of '78, for many years to come, will be the football final between the Kingdom and the Dubs. For the opening 25 minutes Dublin clinically set about Kerry as if they were going to annihilate them, and then - crash, bang, wallop - the roof fell in! For the remaining 45 minutes of play, Kerry ran riot. How would you explain this devastating turn of fortune, of misfortune?
TH: Well, without doubt, the '78 final will go into the record book as a controversial final for many reasons. However, there is no doubting Kerry's entitlement. On the day they were deserving winners. Dublin played well enough during the first 25 minutes but we did not capitalize on the amount of possession enjoyed through that period. One or two unfortunate defensive mistakes turned the tide in Kerry's favour, they grasped their chances and never looked back. Dublin have no excuses for their defeat and must now get on with the job of preparing for '79.
TMcQ: Were you and your team colleagues in any way apprehensive when you first heard the name of the official chosen to referee (Seamus Aldridge) the final? A member of the Dublin panel has been quoted in an evening paper as saying: "We were beaten before we went out on the park." Was it that bad?
TH: It is difficult to understand why the Activities Committee, having due regard to the number of officials available, could not have chosen a referee from either Connacht or Ulster and thereby have prevented the ensuing controversy to some extent. As regards the quote you mention, I very much doubt if any of the Dublin panel passed the said remark and could only state the same is untrue.
TMcQ: Kevin Moran must be classed among the greatest centre-half-backs in the history of the game. Notwithstanding Kevin's genius and the tremendous boost his presence gives to his team colleagues, would you still hold that it was wise to play the lion-hearted defender for the full 70 minutes of the final?
TH: Kevin Moran, like all other members of the panel since we commenced in '74, has given many tremendous performances and I do not consider the '78 final was any exception. Kevin was obviously suffering with a hamstring injury which, to some extent, curtailed his activities. However, the selectors did not consider it necessary to remove Kevin from the field, at any stage, during the final.
TMcQ: The events surrounding Kerry's second goal is something that should only happen in a Christmas pantomime. Psychologically, it must have had a shattering effect on your team's morale?
TH: The various reports dealing with the bizarre incident leading to the second Kerry goal are obviously disappointing for various reasons. However, the goal was scored and no doubt it had some effect on the Dublin team, being the second Kerry goal in a very short space of time and immediately before half-time. That goal, of course, meant that Dublin's lead had been whittled away and resulted in giving Kerry a tremendous boost at a very vital stage of the game.
TMcQ: Kerry mentors are on record as saying they started preparing for the '78 final last February, apparently only doing enough in the League campaign to keep themselves warm. Could you see the Dubs adopting a similar approach to the '79 Championship or, do you think that the Kingdom's obsessional approach is too extreme?
TH: I would be very wary of making any comments in relation to what approach the Kerry mentors did or did not adopt for the '78 final or what their future plans might be. As far as the Dublin selectors and team are concerned, we will make our own preparations and will not be influenced in any way by the training methods of other counties.
TMcQ: Finally, Tony, what are your parting words to the thousands of supporters of the county for 1979?
TH: Firsty, I would like to express, on behalf of the selectors and on behalf of each member of the panel, our sincere gratitude for the great support and encouragement given to us by our followers, not alone in '78 but in previous years also. I have every confidence the team will be more than capable of finding the determination to continue into '79 with even more optimism and enthusiasm. The Dubs will be back - of that you can be sure.