Monday 22 October 2018

From the 12 Apostles to the Battle of Aughrim: The best GAA fights of all time

Dublin's Brian Mullins is sent off by referee Sean McKeogh as a Galway player lies on the ground in 1983
Dublin's Brian Mullins is sent off by referee Sean McKeogh as a Galway player lies on the ground in 1983

Frank Roche and Conor McKeon

HOW exactly should we honour the 26 men who finished the 1983 All-Ireland senior football final? Surely tomorrow's first championship rematch between Dublin and Galway merits a pre-game parade of old sparring partners?

On second thoughts, Croke Park might pass over that jubilee celebration option if only because some warm-ups often lurch out of control.

So here's a better idea: to honour the heroes of 1983, Solo Run has selected 'Famous GAA Barneys' as its Theme of the Week.

Captaincy of this short-fused crew must go to Kevin Heffernan's Twelve Apostles, aka the 12 Dubs who held on against 14 Tribesmen. You'll notice that our skipper wears No 12 ... in this particular blood sport, positions may be symbolic but can also carry real significance.

Thus, the Mill at the Hill (aka the All-Ireland brawlers from Meath and Mayo in 1996) will wear the No 1 jersey because this conflagration erupted in the Hill 16 goalmouth.

Meanwhile, the entire full-back line comprises pre-match flare-ups: Armagh and Cavan for their non-pacifist parade four years ago; Mayo for invading the Hill end before facing Dublin in '06; the hurlers of Cork and Clare for ‘Semplegate' in 2007.

Munster Madness lines out at midfield, where Colin Lynch swung wildly with his hurl at the throw-in to the 1998 Clare/Waterford replay, with far-reaching consequences.

And Daylight Robbery is top of the left because the fiasco over the match-winning goal/try for Meath by Joe Sheridan (right) happened right at the end of the 2010 Leinster SFC final, prompting an invasion of furious Louth fans. The rest of our team is pretty self-explanatory.

It's imperative to have historical rows in pivotal positions – hence the Battle of Omagh at centre-back, the Battle of Aughrim at midfield, the Battle of Parnell Park on the ‘40', and Anarchy Rules (the most chaotic ever International Rules test, from 2006) at full-forward.

Several other half-forgotten fracas could not be ignored, including a Louth/Laois brawl that remains a YouTube sensation, 27 years later; and the 1997 Leinster U21 dust-up between Dublin and Offaly in Parnell Park.

Round Two relates to the 2014 Kerry/Mayo replay in Limerick – a relatively uneventful ‘rolling maul' that became headline news for the on-field incursion of a furious Mayo fan.

We really wanted to pick the Melee in Tralee (Kerry/Donegal 2016) for its poetic title but, when it's only the league, you've got to punch well above your weight to make this team of heavyweights.

Herald Sport

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