Tues July 3, 1973 – All-Ireland Team 3 Brazil 4
I was twelve, and had just finished primary school, when I saw my first live football match. Brazil (yes, that Brazil!) came to Dublin to play a Shamrock Rovers All-Ireland team. Liam Tuohy, who had managed both Rovers and Ireland alongside his day-job at HB ice cream, now instead faced the cream of world football. Johnny Giles and Derek Dougan had organised the Irish players; six from the Republic and five from the North. The Brazilians brought half of their World Cup winning side. The historic line-up was Pat Jennings; David Craig, Paddy Mulligan, Allan Hunter, Tommy Carroll, Mick Martin, Johnny Giles, Martin O’Neill, Terry Conroy, Derek Dougan and Don Givens. The Brazilians included four of their 1970 World Cup winning side in Piazza, Clodoaldo, Rivelino and Jairzinho, and four more of that squad in Leao, Ze Maria, Marco Antonia and Paulo Cesar.
I joined 34,000 fans crammed into Lansdowne to see Brazil go ahead with an early Paulo Cesar goal. A young Mick Martin equalised, before Brazil surged 4-1 ahead with goals from Jairzinho (the ultimate ‘dear diary’ moment: in my first ever live football match, I had just seen Jairzinho score a goal!), Paulo Cesar again and Valdomiro. Then, in the last half hour, Ireland fought back, with Dougan and Terry Conroy scoring. Now only 4-3 behind, the crowd inspired the home side to almost equalise before Brazil got a last-minute penalty and Paulo Cesar stepped up to complete his hat-trick. Pat Jennings pulled off a remarkable save, after which the crowd invaded the pitch and the players escaped from the Nazis, or maybe I’m mixing things up with the movie Escape to Victory. Irish substitute Bryan Hamilton, brought on in the second half along with Liam O’Kane and Miah Dennehy, later said it was like playing against the Harlem Globetrotters.
After the game, I joined hundreds of shrieking, besotted youngsters in the Lansdowne Road car park. Our screaming intensified as each player emerged. This was our generation’s Beatlemania, but with boys instead of girls doing the screaming and with Derek Dougan instead of John Lennon. We descended on Dougan’s car, where he sat for ages patiently signing autographs. Then, as he slowly steered through the parting crowd, his car wheel crushed my right foot into the tarmac. I have never been prouder of a football injury. As he left Lansdowne, ‘The Doog’ did not realise that he was driving away into the football sunset: because of his role in creating an All-Ireland team, he was never again selected to play for Northern Ireland.