The GAA Library and Archive is publishing Central Council Minute Books from 1986, which have just been released under a thirty-year rule
The new initiative brings multiple stories and headlines in to the public domain, including details of the All-Ireland Hurling and Football Championships, which went to Cork and Kerry respectively.
On the fields, 1986 was a mixed year for the GAA. Although new teams threatened to break through on the inter-county scene it was the giants of Munster – Cork and Kerry – who took the major honours.
Early in the season, Laois achieved the remarkable feat of winning the National Football League from Division Three, before being beaten by Wicklow in the first round of the Leinster championship. At club level Burren and Kilruane McDonaghs were crowned All-Ireland football and hurling champions respectively, while at inter-provincial level Connacht (hurling) and Leinster (football) emerged as winners.
In the All-Ireland hurling championship, the Leinster and National Hurling League champions Kilkenny were beaten by Galway in the semi-final while in the other semi-final Cork put seven goals past Antrim. The final itself was an exciting one with Cork the eventual victors on the score of 4-13 to 2-15.
A number of close games featured in the 1986 football provincial championships with Kerry, Galway, Meath and Tyrone eventually emerging as champions. At the All-Ireland semi-final stage Kerry defeated a strong Meath team, who had won Leinster for the first time since 1970, while Tyrone overcame Galway in a very tense affair.
All but written off, it looked as if Tyrone were going to cause a shock in the final. However, Kerry got going in the second half and, on the score of 2-15 to 1-10, they duly won their third All- Ireland title in a row.
Campaign re VAT, Rates and DIRT
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Jerry O’Sullivan, watched the hurling final from a packed Hill 16 as the GAA had suspended its normal practice of inviting politicians and political dignitaries to attend the finals in the Ard Chomhairle section of Croke Park. This was done in an escalation of the GAA’s campaign to have the related issues of rates (on GAA properties), VAT (on hurleys) and DIRT (on money set aside for development purposes) deferred for the purposes of the GAA.
This action meant many high profile TDs and Ministers had to purchase their own tickets and while many politicians were left ‘fuming’ at the decision, a spokesman for An Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald told the press that Taoiseach Fitzgerald was happy to have a day off as he only attended matches out of a sense of duty and protocol.
All Star Awards
At the 1986 All-Star Awards the four All-Ireland finalists (Cork, Galway, Kerry and Tyrone) shared 22 awards between them, with Cork’s Ger Cunningham and Kerry’s Pat Spillane winning the hurler and footballer of the year accolades.
The 1986 All Stars team in full were:
Hurling: Ger Cunningham (Cork); Denis Mulcahy (Cork); Conor Hayes (Galway); Sylvie Linnane (Galway); Peter Finnerty (Galway); Tony Keady (Galway); Bobby Ryan (Tipperary); Richie Power (Kilkenny); John Fenton (Cork); Tony O’Sullivan (Cork); Tomás Mulcahy (Cork); Joe Cooney (Galway); David Kilcoyne (Westmeath); Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork); Kevin Hennessy (Cork).
Football: Charlie Nelligan (Kerry); Harry Keegan (Roscommon); Mick Lyons (Meath); John Lynch (Tyrone); Tommy Doyle (Kerry); Tom Spillane (Kerry); Colm Browne (Laois); Plunkett Donaghy (Tyrone); Liam Irwin (Laois); Ray McCarron (Monaghan); Eugene McKenna (Tyrone); Pat Spillane (Kerry); Mike Sheehy (Kerry); Damien O’Hagan (Tyrone); Ger Power (Kerry).
The 1986 season marked the first time an Irish national GAA team travelled to Australia to play a competitive tournament – for the Compromise Rules International Series.
Throughout the early months of the year the team manager, Dublin’s Kevin Heffernan, and his assistant, Galway’s Liam Sammon, held training sessions throughout Ireland which consisted of briefing players about the compromise rules, viewing videos of Australian Rules games and playing games under the compromise rules system. Following a series of trial games, some of which were attended by thousands of spectators, Heffernan and his 28 man panel, captained by Kerry legend Jack O’Shea, travelled to Australia in October.
The series itself consisted of three games, played in Perth (11 October), Melbourne (19 October) and Adelaide (24 October). While the Australians won the first test by 64 points to 57, the Irish team were victorious in the second (62 points to 46) and third (55 points to 32) tests, and thus won the series 2-1.
Poor discipline witnessed during the series, in particular during the first two games, threatened the future viability of the series, but the relative calm of the third game helped ensure its survival.
The aggregate attendance of 45,000 at the three games was somewhat disappointing but the series was closely followed in Ireland, so-much-so that RTÉ was forced to abandon its plans to show the third match ten hours after the event and instead arrange for live coverage of the game.
Following the tour the GAA decided to continue with the series – the Australians were invited to play in Ireland in 1987 with the Irish team due to return to Australia in 1988.