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In Defence Of Hype - The Case Of Heffo's Army

In Defence Of Hype - The Case Of Heffo's Army
By Michael McCarthy
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John Kiely would unlikely approve of the Dublin footballer's attitude to hype in the 1970s. While Limerick take a very modern approach of avoiding the dreaded "H" word, as do all top GAA teams in 2018, what if, sometimes, hype is exactly what a team needs? What if a bit of hype can transform the entire sporting culture of a city, and launch one of the great eras of Gaelic football?

In the latest edition of our "Champions" series in association with Subaru, we spoke to Bernard Brogan Snr., a three time All-Ireland winner in the 1970s with Dublin, and the father of fellow All-Ireland winners Alan and Bernard.

Reliving the classic battles with Kerry, the shock of their 1975 defeat, and the emergence of Hill 16 and Heffo's Army, Brogan looks back on what was a glorious period for the Dubs. In fact, only the current team, who hope to go one step closer to four-in-a-row against Galway this Sunday, have surpassed the achievements of the great team of Mullins, Hanahoe, Hickey, Brogan et al.

But how much does Dublin GAA in the 21st Century owe to the glory years of the 197os? Dublin were in the doldrums before Kevin Heffernan took over, and the fans were staying at home. Would the GAA in the city have survived without what happened next?

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Brogan was involved with Dublin for the first time in 1974 when Dublin would go on to beat Galway in the All-Ireland final, a game he missed through injury. The All-Ireland win had come from nowhere and an era was born. Croke Park would become a sea of blue for the next ten years, but it didn't start that way, with support only growing as the summer went on., as Brogan explained.

Dublin had no pedigree. They were playing in Division 2.

It was hard to get people to play, and in some ways, Heffernan just persuaded a group of people to come and train together.

We won the first game, and that momentum sort of built. There was latent support in Dublin but people just wouldn't go and watch the matches because there was nothing happening.

All of that would change pretty quickly in 1974, and how the team would experience that evolution marks stark contrast with how Bernard Jnr and his teammates will experience their visit to Croke Park this Sunday. The Dublin team of the 70s weren't in a position to avoid the growing hype. They had to embrace it. In the end, it didn't seem to do them much harm.

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We went to Croke Park at that time, we didn't go on a bus, we parked our car and we walked in with the crowd and knocked at the gate to get in.

I can remembering going down the Old Cabra Road with flags and jerseys and so on. That was all new. There was a whole thing going on in the UK where the whole thing of supporting soccer clubs in the UK was just beginning to build, so this gave a lot of the Dublin people the chance to emulate that.

I think we played seven games to win the All-Irleand final in 1974, so there was a long lead up and that just gave people a chance to get it into their system. So, little by little, every game we won was different, and more people turned up, and more people turned up, and by the time we got to the final, it was just amazing, the Hill was just a sea of colour. It was a fantastic feeling.

 

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An era has begun. Dublin made the next six All-Ireland finals and saved the GAA in the capital for future generations. A barren spell did follow though, with Dublin only adding two further All-Ireland titles in the next three decades. Since 2011, all that has changed, and their five titles in the last seven years is an unprecedented period of success for Dublin football.

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So, have the current side surpassed what Heffernan and his team did in the 1970s? There's no doubt in Brogan's mind.

I think the mantle has passed on already. This team since 2011, if you look at their record, and the record of Jim Gavin as a manager, it's just an extraordinary record.

Do I think it's the best team that's played? Probably. Yeah.

SEE ALSO: All-Ireland Final. 5 Points Down. The Team-Talk That Made History

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