The language was direct, the intent obvious, the impact seismic. Two Dublin footballers, David Hickey and John McCarthy, were bluntly informed that they could be attacked if they went to New York on an All-Star tour.
It took the player-centred scheme into new and dangerous political territory, which the GAA were striving to avoid at a time of high tensions in Northern Ireland.
The controversy was sparked by an incident prior to the 1977 Dublin-Kerry National Football League final in Croke Park when a group supporting Provisional IRA prisoners, who were on hunger strike in the Curragh Military Hospital, invaded the pitch.
Some players, including McCarthy, whose son James is a current Dublin star, Hickey and Páidí ó Sé assisted gardaí and stewards in the efforts to remove the demonstrators. Their actions drew the wrath of various groups in the US, including the Irish National Caucus.
The 1976 All-Stars and All-Ireland champions, Dublin (football) and Cork (hurling), were due to undertake a 20-day tour of the US shortly afterwards.
As anger over the incident increased among some sections of the Irish-American community, pressure mounted on GAA officials in various cities, particularly New York.
A campaign was launched to prevent McCarthy and Hickey from travelling (ó Sé wasn't on the touring party). McCarthy withdrew for reasons that had nothing to do with the protests, leaving Hickey as the sole focus for a tense stand-off, which started with a stark threat.
"He is being forewarned. If he comes here with the tour next week, I cannot be responsible for what might happen to him," John Kerry O'Donnell, one of the GAA's most important figures in New York for many years, told the Irish Independent.
Tom O'Donoghue, chairman of the North American Board (NAB), demanded that Hickey and McCarthy be dropped from the touring party (he was obviously unaware that McCarthy wasn't planning to travel).
"By helping to remove the protesters from the pitch, these men disgraced the Dublin jersey," he said.
NAB president Dan O'Kennedy was equally strident. "This player (Hickey) should be immediately told of our stand that he is not playing over here."
The story provided the main front-page lead for the Irish Independent and ran for three days as diplomatic efforts got under way to find a solution.
The fact that McCarthy and ó Sé were gardaí appeared to inflame the mood among some elements in the US, but it was Hickey, then a doctor at St Vincent's Hospital, who faced the real threat as he remained determined to travel as planned.
Hickey's Dublin colleagues would have withdrawn from the tour if he were banned, thus escalating the crisis.
Opinion was split in New York GAA over the ultimatum, with former president Terry Connaughton, a native of Roscommon, urging Hickey to travel.
"Only a small minority, completely under the thumb of the Irish National Caucus and Noraid (an Irish-American group founded after the start of the troubles in Northern Ireland) are behind the effort to ban David Hickey. The Dublin players will receive all the protection they need," he told the Irish Independent.
The stand-off still ranks as the most serious crisis to hit the All-Stars. Political figures, led by Fianna Fáil leader Jack Lynch, became involved in what was now a major story on both sides of the Atlantic.
"I was at Croke Park on Sunday and I fully agree with the action taken by David Hickey and John McCarthy," said Lynch, the then-leader of the Opposition.
An Irish Independent editorial insisted there could be "no blackmail" and advised the GAA to cut New York out of the tour if the threat to Hickey wasn't lifted immediately.
"It is difficult to fathom the ignorance of Irish conditions on the part of those who try to enforce such a ban," it stated.
O'Donnell, also seemingly unaware that McCarthy wasn't on the touring party, remained unmoved.
"My opinion is that for their own welfare these two players should not travel. Some people may have cooler heads here next week, but there will be no cooling off with regard to these two fellows.
"I am not now prepared to have either David Hickey or John McCarthy in New York on tour. They would be foolish to come to this country," he said.
Finding themselves in a difficult position, the GAA summoned a Central Council meeting to discuss whether the tour should proceed, even if New York was removed from the itinerary.
However, a breakthrough came on the night of the meeting with the news that the hunger strike had been called off, and the lifting of the ban on Hickey by the Irish National Caucus.
The tour went ahead, with extra security arrangements in place. While there were no major incidents, police were called to one event where a small protest group gathered outside a hotel, which was hosting an All-Star function.
The whole affair damaged relations between Croke Park and the GAA in the US - even if only a small, but influential, element backed the outrageous attempt to decide who was entitled to travel.
A less serious, although deeply embarrassing incident, had occurred on another All-Star trip two years earlier.
It involved Dermot Earley Snr, who found himself in an awkward position after being harshly sent off in a league clash with Dublin in early 1975. As a 1974 All-Star, he was due to travel to the US with the touring party some weeks later.
However, because of the rule which precluded players from All-Star eligibility if they were sent off, uncertainty prevailed as to his precise position. Was he eligible? If so, could he play? If not, should he be brought at all?
Enter O'Donnell with a telegram, addressed to "Dermot Earley, Croke Park, Dublin".
It read: "Cordial invitation hereby extended to Dermot Earley to travel with All-Stars. All expenses paid by me. Red-blooded men always welcome in Gaelic Park."
Finding themselves in an awkward position, the GAA decided to invite Earley on the tour as assistant to team manager Seán Purcell. He understood that while he wouldn't be playing, he would be part of the official party.
An embarrassing shock lay in store. On arrival in the US, a welcoming committee greeted the party, with each being invited forward individually to receive an envelope, containing details of the trip and an allowance. Earley's name was called forward for a formal greeting, but there was no envelope for him.
That also happened on three other occasions during the trip. It was a shabby way to treat one of the game's great ambassadors.
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