Nemo team of 1979 had to withstand Arctic conditions to secure the title

Nemo team of 1979 had to withstand Arctic conditions to secure the title
Artic conditions in the 1979 final.

NEXT year will be the 40th anniversary of Nemo Rangers' second All-Ireland club triumph.

Back in 1979, they reached another final, when pitted against Monaghan and Ulster champions, Scottstown.

Like the current standard-bearers, who meet Galway and Connacht winners, Corofin, the weekend after next, that final was also played on a Saturday, the day on which St Patrick's Day happened to fall.

And like the Arctic weather of last week, the '79 side, which was captained by centre-back, Brian Murphy, also had to cope with the most horrendous conditions on that never-to-be-forgotten afternoon.

How the game actually finished was a mystery because it began with heavy snow showers and after a quarter-of-an-hour people were already questioning the wisdom of continuing.

For the remainder, a mixture of snow and sleet dropped on Croker to such an extent that afterwards the Nemo defenders were saying they couldn't even see the forwards in attack.

The Cork and Munster champions played with the wind from the start and it was apparent their greater experience was proving too much for Scottstown, who only managed one point in the period.

By half-time Nemo had established a winning position of 1-6 to 0-1 with Timmy Dalton's 27th minute goal the result of a speculative lob which deceived everyone to finish in the back of the net.

In the sanctuary of the dressingrooms at half-time, some Nemo players tried to revive themselves with a drop of brandy just to get some warmth back into their bodies.

It was a common enough practice up and down the country, especially in games played in demanding conditions, but a world removed from today's protein shakes and energy drinks. You'd wonder what the modern player would make of it all?

The pick-me-up worked because Nemo also 'won' the second-half by 1-3 to 1-2 and were never in any danger of missing out on a second title.

Jimmy Barrett ended any lingering doubts about the outcome, when he profitted from Dalton's bustling of goalkeeper Eamonn Keenan and poked the ball into the empty net near the end to clinch a 2-9 to 1-3 victory.

The plight of the Nemo players actually started the previous night, when the heating in the hotel in which they were staying in in the capital broke and turned their bedrooms into fridges.

The sight of payers sleeping in tracksuits and woolly hats would have attracted great interest in the modern age of camera phones and the like, but, luckily from their point of view, nothing was captured for posterity. For that, they remain eternally grateful and relieved.

It was a star-studded team, featuring half-a-dozen survivors from the history-making team of 1973, when Nemo clinched their first All-Ireland by accounting for Dublin's St Vincent's in the final.

Billy Morgan was in goal, fronted by a full-back line of Frank Cogan, Fred Stone and Kieran Murphy.

The emerging Jimmy Kerrigan added a touch of dash to a half-back line supplemented by centre-back Murphy and Denis O'Driscoll with Kieran Brady and Denis Linehan joining forces at midfield.

Dinny Allen, who scored three points in the final, led the attack from centre-forward with Barrett and Dalton on the wings while the inside line consisted of Noel Morgan, Kieran Collins and Colm Murphy, who suffered a serious leg injury in the closing stages.

The following day, Munster footballers tried to win a fifth successive Railway Cup against at Croker only to be left frustrated by Ulster, who finished strongly to win by 1-7 to 0-6.

The weather forced the postponement of the hurling decider, a novel showdown between Leinster and Connacht.

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