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Captain's view: Offaly 1982

by Irish Times was published in the Irish Times on Tuesday the 23rd of September 1997

Captain of the team that broke through in Leinster in 1980 and went on to reach two All-Ireland finals in the following years, including the famous 1982 match when Connor's team deprived Kerry of a fifth-in-a-row All-Ireland title with a late goal from Seamus Darby.

"The Leinster title in 1980 was special to me because I'd started playing just after the 1971-72 team had broken up and I became accustomed to watching Dublin winning Leinster titles despite Offaly putting in a huge effort, especially after Eugene McGee took us over in 1976.

"The All-Ireland is a bigger stage and in 1981, we were caught up in the hype of the occasion, rather than the match. Although Walsh Island is almost on the Kildare border, we headed into Tullamore for Mass and a team-meeting before getting a train and it was all a bit unreal.

"A year later, in '82, we travelled up in cars and met in Powers Hotel in Dublin. It was like the preparation for a League match and there was an underlying objective that we had a serious job to do. There was much greater purpose in the side and we left the hype by the wayside. We were able to separate the rubbish from reality and realise that we would be hit hard from the start and that 60,000 people would be looking.

"In the build-up, I remember looking at my diary, putting myself down for the 15p per mile, and noticing that we had met 17 nights out of one three-week period. There was a lot of talk and so much footage of the Kerry team that every player could be really assessed in detail.

"I saw the match on TnaG a couple of months back and thought that I remembered very little of it. It's unfortunate that as these programmes are available, they become our memory and good play which isn't captured on camera gets forgotten.

"When it was over, we went back to the dressingroom where there was loads of back-slapping. At a stage when you'd like to go off with wives and friends and keep the team group together, we had to go out to Montrose instead because there was a programme that was going out that night and RTE were in control.

"They had us in the studio at 6.30 and the programme was done in 15-minute pieces with a break in between which meant it took two around hours. Then we left and remember - apart from a quick hospitality glass in RTE - we had had no drink by then.

"Instead we were starving. Most of us hadn't eaten since breakfast because you'd be too nervous to eat many of the sandwiches served before the match. By the time we had eaten and headed to our hotel in a fairly sober state, the supporters had drunk the place dry and there was no draught left.

"When you've won an All-Ireland, it doesn't take much to please a fella but I think the after-match arrangements could have been better."

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