On This Day – Sep 29 1996: 27 players in All-Ireland final brawl; fan falls from Croke Park roof

EYES ON THE BALL.....Meath’s Barry Callaghan and Mayo’s Dermot Flannigan race for possession in the 1996 All-Ireland SFC final

ALL year they’ve been waiting for Tommy Dowd’s big game.

And yesterday in the All-Ireland SFC final replay he hit full throttle, to help Meath to a 2-9 to 1-11 victory over Mayo.

In a game which saw many of Meath’s forwards shackled by a resolute Mayo defence, Dowd’s personal tally of 1-3 and their 1-4 of magnificent half-forward partner Trevor Giles comprised all bar two of Meath’s total as they lifted their sixth All-Ireland title in what was arguably the finest decider of the 90s.

Whereas the drawn encounter of two weeks ago was an often scatty, messy affair, this one was all out war as the irresistible force of Meath met the seemingly immovable object of Mayo.

And for a two-minute spell in the first half the warfare metaphor was taken literally. At the end of a tense and scoreless six minutes, frustration boiled over in the Meath penalty area.

Twenty seven players were involved at the height of a mass brawl of flying fists and boots.

When calm was eventually restored Monaghan referee Pat McEneaney sent off Meath’s Colm Coyle and Mayo’s beanpole midfielder Liam McHale – though he could have taken his pick from a dozen more.

Meath: C Martin, M O’Reilly, D Fay, M O’Connell, C Coyle, E McManus, P Reynolds, J McGuinness, J McDermott, T Giles (1-4), T Dowd (1-3), G Geraghty, C Brady, B Reilly (0-1), B Callaghan (0-1)

Sub: J Devine for Callaghan (65 mins)

Mayo: J Madden, K Mortimer, K Cahill, D Flanagan, P Holmes, J Nallen, N Connelly, L McHale, D Brady, J Horan (0-5), C McMenanon, M Sheridan (0-5), A Finnerty, J Casey (0-1), R Dempsey

Subs: PJ Loftus (1-0) for Dempsey (26 mins), P Fallon for Flanagan (45 mins) T Reilly for Finnerty (68 mins)

Ref: P McEneaney (Monaghan)

Attendance: 65,802


A GAA fan had a miraculous escape from death when he fell through the roof of a stand during yesterday’s All-Ireland final replay at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Several other supporters were injured in the incident, which happened in the closing stages of Meath’s dramatic single point win over Mayo.

The Meath supporter, in his 20s, illegally climbed from the Hill 16 terracing to the top of the Nally stand, but, as he celebrated his team’s match winning goal, the structure gave way under his weight.

He would have dropped more than 40ft landing on packed rows of seated supporters below, but his fall was broken after less than 10ft when he landed on a girder below the roof.

The iron stanchion, less than 18 inches wide, supports the main electronic scoreboard at Croke Park. Several heavy slabs of asbestos fell from the damaged roof onto the heads of the supporters below.

At least three were treated for cuts and bruises and one was led away with blood pouring from his head, but a gardai at the scene said later that none of the injuries were serious.

Meanwhile, the spectator clinging to the girder above, who appeared to be in a state of shock, edged his way slowly to a nearby RTE television gantry.

He was pulled to safety by television staff, but was then led away by two uniformed gardai who climbed a ladder to reach the gantry.

Many of the spectators watching the amazing scenes above their heads were from Co Down and Co Antrim.

A 37-year-old man from Andersonstown said: “He is the luckiest man in Ireland. If he had fallen a matter of inches either way, and missed the girder he would be dead. He probably would have killed anyone he landed on as well.”

Garda and Croke Park stewards cleared the area under the gaping hole in the Nally stand roof almost immediately.

Pieces of jagged masonry continued to smash to the ground for several minutes afterwards.


Bookies hit by winning streak

A LEADING Northern Ireland bookmaker will today pay out at least half a million pounds after Italian jockey Frankie Dettori pulled off a remarkable first.

Frankie Dettori went ‘through the card’ at Ascot – the first time any jockey has done this in Britain.

It has been forecast that the unprecedented 25,095-1 seven-timer cost the bookmaking industry £18 million and many shops could face ruin.

Adrian Eastwood of Eastwoods bookmakers said: “The pay-outs have been colossal – we don’t know exactly how much, we’re waiting to see the damage – it’s at least £500,000 and is bound to be more.”

Mr Eastwood said all the north’s bookmaker would be in the same boat.

“He is the jockey of the moment and people want to back him – some backed him to win five, six or even seven winners.

“One of our shops in Strabane lost £125,000 while the other appears to have been untouched.

“It’s been the worst day everyone can remember.”


CONDITIONS were appalling for the Derry County Waterside half marathon

which still attracted more than 200 bravehearts at the starting line.

From the outset on the outback course, three athletes, Daniel Gidumbandwa (Tanzania), Gerry Healy (Civil Service, Dublin) and John Fearon (North Belfast) had the individual race to themselves.

At half a trio comprising John Weir (North Belfast), Donal Gallagher (Sparta) and Tommy Hughes (Striders) were next up in 32.32 with John Tracey (Ballydrain) following in 32.52.

But with a little over 600 meters remaining, it was Healy who found the extra pace to impressively run away from his rivals reaching the line in 65.32.

Gidumbandwa was second in 65.43 and Fearon third 65.51.


Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: