Irishtown Hero Helped Dubs Back To Top Table

Author’s (Jim Conway) Note –

This article, reproduced in full below, was written by Finbarr Dolan shortly after the 1963 All Ireland Football Final and was focused on Gerry Davey (Class of 1962) and Row Person of the Year 2023. Finbarr did a great job of capturing all aspects of a great occasion for Gerry and his family. It’s also great as a dose of nostalgia for ROW past pupils especially those of us who knew Gerry and who delighted in his contribution to Dublin football at the time.

With regard to Gerry’s Biography, published in News Blog on December 15th, John Cullen has pointed out that the players highlighted in the team photo were all from Clanna Gael for which the Row was a feeder school. John also mentions that Gerry was quite an accomplished hurler and he was on a Clanna Gael hurling team that won a Junior Dublin County Championship around the same time they won the County Senior Football title in 1968 or shortly after that.

With regard to the photo of the Inis Ealga Dancers in action, published in the December 15th article, it may well be that the male dancer in the foreground, facing the camera, is actually another ROW boy and from the Class of 62 also, Anthony Dowling. As far as I recall he mainly used the Irish version, Antoine O’Dunlaing, of his name. Maybe some of our readers will be able to confirm this and, hopefully, give us some information about Antoine. Don’t forget to use the Comment facility on this, or any previous Blog if you want to get in touch.

Don’t forget also to get in touch with old classmates to organise your numbers for the Dinner on January 28th. Booking is now open and you can pay on line. If not paying on line simply text me on 087 2557298 or contact any member of the committee.

Finbarr Dolan Article published in 1963 –

Dublin had not contested a final since 1958…..a full 5 years. Rumblings among supporters were that this was not acceptable for a county that had brought swerve and swagger to our national game. Heffo was drafted in as a selector which kick started his managerial career. The mantra was that Dublin should be eating at the top table again so plans were put in place to restore pride back to the city.

St. Vincent’s and Clanna Gael were dominating club football, so both teams were watched regularly to see what they could contribute to the campaign. In those days, the average age of county players was 25 plus. However, one player, aged 19, from Clanna Gael caught the eye.

Gerry Davey was an athlete of great fitness with the speed of a gazelle and a keen eye for goal. He was the son of Eugene (Sligo) and Ellie (Clare), not hotbeds of football and to this day, neither county have won the Sam Maguire.

Gerry was the second eldest of six children born in an 11 year span, the first boy in the family of four boys and two girls. His early GAA influences were Ted Cooling, schoolmaster at Star of the Sea, then onto Westland Row CBS where Brothers Hickey and Treacy nurtured Gerry’s talent to the extent that Bro. Hickey predicted he would play for Dublin.

The question was – could Gerry cut the mustard with the Foley Brothers, John Timmons, Des Ferguson and Mick Kissane? At 19 he had massive competition from older players to get a starting spot in the campaign. Gerry grasped his chance in the League. The Championship saw Dublin brush aside Meath, Kildare and Laois in Leinster before beating Down on the way to the final.

Gerry, playing his part when called upon as starter or sub demonstrated a physical and mental toughness way beyond his years. The tension mounted throughout the other 31 counties as Dublin, once again, brought style, charisma, pride and passion both on and off the field of play.

The team was announced at training the week before the final and it was no surprise that Gerry, the Irishtown Hero, was selected at number 12. A week of almost sleepless nights in the Davey household by everyone but Gerry followed. He took his elevation to hero status in his community in his stride and shouldered his responsibility like Eugene and Ellie had taught him.

The morning of the final, Gerry did not break with tradition and travelled alone on the number 3 bus to the city, walking the remaining distance. There were no pre-match meals in those days. The crowds in their thousands flocked to Croke Park by bike, bus, horse and foot. The ferry crossing the Liffey from South to North had extra boats in use due to the demand and many from Gerry’s surrounding parishes availed of the ferryman.

A crowd of 87,106 thronged Croke Park for the final, the third biggest ever attendance on record. Two of Gerry’s brothers, Brendan and Eugene Jnr. paid through the turnstiles at the Canal End, the home of Dublin Southside fans for years. Gerry’s parents and the rest of the family, Nuala, Veronica and Paddy, took their seats in the Ard Comhairle (a premonition of victory in their blood).

The scene was set, the cauldron of noise as the players paraded could be heard far and near. The match was a tight and tense affair played in a sporting manner, as play switched from end to end. Half time saw Galway leading by 0-6 to 0-4.

In the changing rooms there were no stats men, no physios, no clipboards, no TVs for reruns. However, there was a group of Dubs who knew that the city was calling, the desire to bring Sam back to his rightful place was the focus.

Every player in the 32 man squad knew that they had 30 minutes to show they would not be found wanting. Although still a teenager, this was Gerry’s opportunity to live the dream, to play his part, to deliver on the biggest stage both as an individual and as a team member. Gerry was playing for himself, his team, his club, his parish, his city and he was not going to let his family down.

The Davey name would play a huge part in Dublin GAA in the years ahead and this was his stage to kickstart the tradition as his brothers Eugene and Paddy also became leading lights through the decades, both playing, managing and in administration within Dublin GAA.

The players took their positions for the second half and what came next was a moment never to be forgotten. Dublin attacked into the Hill and worked the ball forward to our Irishtown Hero who scored the only goal of the game to turn the tide in Dublin’s favour 1-9 to 0-10.

Gerry recalls the noise from the stands and the terraces after the goal and then his teammates fighting tooth and nail for the rest of the game. The referee, the late Eamon Moules (Wicklow), blew the final whistle and the rest became a blur.

Every player was hoisted onto shoulders and carried to the Hogan Stand for the presentation to captain Des Foley by President de Valera. The holy grail was reached, the pain since 1958 ebbed away, pride was restored to every man, woman and child in the city. A trip to Glendalough was the reward to the squad on the Monday, schools were visited over the following weeks as a motivation for future generations with a special hurrah every time our Irishtown Hero was introduced.

Chris and Gerry with Sam 1963

Chris Kane and Gerry Davey with Sam at the school in 1963

Dublin All Ireland football champions 1963 with Clanna Gael members, including ROW past pupils Gerry Davey and Chris Kane, highlighted.

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