An article published by RTÉ Brainstorm today has detailed how the 1946 All-Ireland senior football final between Roscommon and Kerry was upstaged by a teachers’ protest in Croke Park.
For more than seven months, national school teachers in the capital had been on strike and they subsequently showcased their displeasure on one of the biggest days in the Irish sporting calendar — the All-Ireland senior football final.
Ironically, the decider had been moved from its traditional third Sunday in September slot to facilitate the “Harvest Emergency”.
After one of the wettest years on record, the harvest has been endangered by severe flooding, and, consequently, thousands of volunteers joined farmers in an effort to save the crops. GAA games were abandoned as players were urged to “secure” the harvest in all four provinces.
When the game eventually took place on October 6th, Roscommon, a team believed to be at the height of their powers, were looking for their third title in four years. All the famous names were there — Murray, Nerney, Boland, Carlos, Gibbons, Jackson, Keenan — the talent was endless.
At half time, with Roscommon in control of the game, 70 teachers dressed in black coats made their way onto the field to protest against their plight, which had been intensified — according to the RTÉ article — by pay increases for Gardaí and civil servants a year earlier.
Armed with placards and messages, they had a loud message for Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, who was sitting in the crowd.
Eventually, Croke Park stewards assisted Gardaí in escorting the protestors from the field.
When the game recommenced, Roscommon were in a strong position, leading by 1-7 to 0-4 with five minutes remaining, but, incredibly, Kerry struck for two late goals to bring the game to a replay — a game the Rossies lost.
As for the teachers — after 30 weeks of strike action during which time they were paid 90 per cent of their salary — they returned to their classrooms empty-handed. But such a public showing of demonstration is widely believed to have triggered the subsequent defeat suffered by the Fianna Fáil government of the day.
Watch the video below…