Video: Dublin v Galway 1983 – The 12 Apostles Or The Dirty Dozen?


One of the most talked about games between Dublin and Galway of all time.


As we prepare ourselves for this weekend’s All Ireland Semi Final, it’s never a bad idea to trawl through archives. The last time these two sides met in the Championship was the now famous All Ireland Final of 1983.

Dublin 1-10
Galway 1-08

The 1983 All-Ireland final between Dublin and Galway contained almost everything except the level of football and sportsmanship which is expected from the top players in the country. Particularly on the most important, and most publicised day in the GAA calendar.

But despite the events that unfolded on this day in Croke Park, this final contained the most extraordinary spectacle ever. That spectacle was the absolute courage and bravery of Dublin’s display in the second half. Playing with only 12 men against 14 and a gale-force wind, they held on to win the Sam Maguire Cup.

To paint the scene, and similar to the Hurling final two weeks prior, a massive wind and a shower of rain had ruined the prospect of the match being in any way open or skilful. And quite quickly referee John Gough found himself in some horrible predicaments.

While he dished out his authority on many of the more serious incidents, many of his decisions were questionable at best. This was much to the annoyance of both teams involved.

Four players were sent to the line. Dublin midfielder, Brian Mullins, was the first to go after 27 minutes for allegedly striking Brian Talty. Talty sustained another injury in a fight between players in the tunnel at the interval. As a result he was unable to play in the second half, which was a massive blow to Galway.

Dublin’s Ray Hazley and Galway’s and Tomás Tierney were both sent off after being involved in a scuffle five minutes before half time. And Kieran Duff followed his team mates when Pat O’Neill fell to the ground off the ball in the fifth minute of the second half.

Dublin dig deep

With despair setting in among Dublin fans, the boys in blue surprisingly fought back into the game, even with only 12 men and facing into the blustery wind climbing the Canal wall.

They battled on in the face of gigantic odds and won the admiration of even the most partisan Galway supporters for their immense spirit.

Galway’s lack of composure became quite visible when they let the ball run over the sideline several times and when they failed to take points from easy scoring positions.

For the opening 12 minutes of the game Galway were superb, containing Dublin with close marking and strong running. But it was then their luck began to run out.

The Connacht champs won a free on their 14-yard line, and keeper, Pádraig Coyne, took the kick. The ball was won by Barney Rock some 35 yards away and the Dublin winger, seeing Coyne still on the spot from which he had taken the kick and the goal unguarded behind him, kicked swiftly and with deadly accuracy and the ball dropped under the crossbar and into the empty net.

Coyne turned and ran back as he saw the ball floating goalwards, but he had hesitated too long and the green flag was waving almost before he reached the line.

Rock’s goal was a major turning point. Galway’s morale was shattered and the chance of winning their first title since 1966 slowly but surely slipped away.

Full forward Gay McManus missed a chance of a Galway goal early in the second quarter, and Rock was back in defence to block down a powerful shot from Val Daly at point blank range a few minutes later.

Galway attempt to claw back

Dublin led by 1-05 to 0-02 at the break, and when Rock and McNally put over points within six minutes of the restart Dublin had won another vital round of the psychological battle.

When Galway scored 1-03 in their best phase of football to reduce Dublin’s lead to three points between the 45th and 51st minutes, their faithful supporters jumped with joy. For here, at last, they thought, was the start of the rally which would overrun a depleted Dublin and secure victory.

Galway’s goal was scored by Stephen Joyce in the 50th minute when a lovely cross from the right by Brian O’Donnell at the Railway end dribbled across the square and the left full forward swooped in to stroke the ball delicately into the net.

But that effort was not sustained and it was Dublin who commanded the exchanges in the final 15 minutes.

(video credit: PJ’s Classic GAA videos via Youtube)