1983 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final
|Event||1983 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship|
|Date||18 September 1983|
|Venue||Croke Park, Dublin|
|Referee||John Gough (Antrim)|
The 1983 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, also known as the Game of Shame (Irish: An Cluiche Náireach), was the 96th All-Ireland Final and the deciding match of the 1983 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, an inter-county Gaelic football tournament for the top teams in Ireland.
Barney Rock scored an 11th-minute goal, while four players (3 Dublin, 1 Galway) were sent off, earning the Dublin team the epithet "The Dirty Dozen". The game was marred by scenes of thuggery and ugliness. Galway had also lost to Dublin in their previous All-Ireland football final appearance in 1974.
GAA fans were looking forward to the final in 83 as both counties had a proud footballing tradition, and it was also the first final since 1977 that didn't involve Kerry. Ironically both Dublin and Galway were lucky to have reached the final at all, as both needed late goals in the semi-finals to stay in the championship. Dublin salvaged a draw with Cork thanks to a Barney Rock goal in injury time before beating them in a memorable replay in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, while Galway defeated an unlucky Donegal thanks to a Val Joyce strike.
Conditions were terrible on the day of the match with the gale force wind and driving rain making it impossible for the players to play constructive football, and the physical battle was more intense than usual. The game was full of dangerous sliding tackles and heated exchanges between players was frequent.
It is impossible to locate the exact source of the disgraceful scenes which marred the final as there was no history of violence in previous clashes between the sides. According to Barney Rock, "If you study the match again, the first dig was thrown by Galway.". That statement seems to backed up by Galway player Brian Talty who said "We would be getting stuck in there’s no doubt about that. There’s no point in playing Gaelic Football unless you’re going to get stuck into the guy.". Barney Rock scored a bizarre goal from 40 yards after a poor free-out from Galway goalkeeper Padraig Coyne. Galway protested claiming that the goal should not have been allowed due to Dublin manager Kevin Heffernan interfering with play as he attended to the injured Joe McNally, but referee John Gough did not agree and the goal stood.
Things get Sour
Soon after that, things began to wrong for Dublin. After a tussle in midfield, Dublin legend Brian Mullins swung back his arm and connected with Brian Talty, sending him crashing to the ground. The referee decided to send Mullins off. "If I look back on it, a lot of thoughts run through my mind. It happened and I had to accept it." said Mullins of the incident. Shortly before half-time a number of players clashed beneath the Hogan Stand and to the crowds amazement John Gough decided to send off a player from each side, Ray Hazley from Dublin and Tomás Tierney of Galway. Stephen Joyce, who was also playing for Galway that day, said "In my view neither player deserved to be given their marching orders. But perhaps another one of our players was lucky that he wasn’t sent off.".
The referee’s whistle for half-time brought a ceasefire of sorts, however players clashed in the tunnel and although rumours circulated for years about the incident, whatever happened in the tunnel, stayed in the tunnel. Interestingly though, Brian Talty of Galway never returned for the second half. Joyce said of the clash, "Brian Mullins came in after for Brian Talty. I ran in and stood in his way". Whatever peace had remained was swiftly removed when five minutes after the restart another unsavoury incident led to the dismissal of Ciaran Duff of Dublin after he kicked Galway’s Pat O’Neill while he was on the ground. All of a sudden it was 14 men against 12 on a day which did nothing for the reputation of Gaelic football or for the GAA. Rock said that "I’m sure Ciaran will always look back on it as a moment of madness.".
The 12 Apostles
It was at this point 14 man Galway against 12 man Dublin. Dublin’s ’12 Apostles’ defended superbly against the onslaught of Galway attacks and held out for a famous win by a margin of 2 points, 1-10 to 1-08, but the controversy tended to overshadow the Dubs’ great achievement. After the match some Galway officials depicted Dublin as a squad of hitmen with no regard for decency or fair play, though Joyce was more magnanimous, "The ’12 Apostles’ had beaten us. It wasn’t easy to take."
The following morning’s newspapers coverage had very little to do with the actual game, but focused on the ugliness of the match and also reported on the poor supervision at exits and the terrible crushing in the Canal End and on Hill 16, where a fan was stabbed. There were reports of clashes amongst supporters after the match and of buses full of Galway fans being stoned as they left Dublin.
The pressure was on the GAA authorities to act fast and deal with the controversy on the pitch, but it took weeks for the organisation to sort out all the disciplinary matters arising from the final. When the punishments were announced Dublin felt aggrieved believing they were handed far too much of the responsibility for the controversies.
Ciaran Duff was banned for 12 months, Brian Mullins for 5 months, their manager Kevin Heffernan received a 3 month ban while Ray Hazley got a month. 2 players from Galway, Tomás Tierney and Peter Lee were both suspended for 1 month each. Both county boards were also fined.
The entire incident left a sour taste in the mouth of GAA fans, especially those of Galway and Dublin, of which a rivalry between the two was born. They haven't met in the Championship since.
- High Ball magazine, issue #6, 1998.
- Kenny, Tom (14 April 2011). "The men who first brought Sam to Galway". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 14 April 2011. "In 1974, the final score was Dublin 0 – 14 to Galway’s 1 – 6, and in 1983 Dublin repeated the victory by 1 – 10 to our 1 – 8."
- "1983 All-Ireland final on Scannal". Hogan Stand. 16 November 2007. Retrieved 16 November 2007.