This final was immortalised in the British film Rooney, a loose adaptation of a Catherine Cookson novel concerning a Dublin binman whose real talents lie on the hurling field. The film incorporated actual footage of the final itself and John Gregson, the Liverpool actor who played the lead role, lined out with the Kilkenny team in the pre-match parade to the consternation of many players and fans at the time. Incidentally, our hero Rooney, according to the logic of the film, was actually playing for Dublin rather than Kilkenny so it’s the first (and only time) that a ‘Dublin’ hurling team has lined out in the black and amber! The match itself was a hard fought and closely contested affair that swung first to Waterford, then to Kilkenny, then back to Waterford, before Kilkenny finally came out on top by the slimmest of margins with a point from Kilkenny’s captain Mickey Kelly (12) just before the final whistle.
Among the stars on the day were Kilkenny goalkeeper Ollie Walsh, who made a number of magnificent saves (some of which are included in this highlights package), particularly in the first half when Waterford appeared to be getting on top, while Johnny McGovern (7) and Paddy Buggy (5) (who would go on to become GAA president in 1982) excelled at the half back line for Kilkenny. In attack, Donal Whelan (15) and Mick Kenny (11) excelled for Waterford and Kilkenny respectively, and both are frequently featured here, and Waterford captain Philly Grimes (9) (top scorer on the day) was in outstanding form from frees. Micheál O’Hehir also returned to commentary duties for this game, and the footage includes some wonderful shots of supporters during and after the game, including the chairing of victorious Kilkenny captain Kelly at the end. As well as the Senior game, footage is also included here of the Minor encounter between Tipperary, who retained their title, and a Kilkenny team that featured a young Eddie Keher (captured in full flight getting a great score) who would mature into one of the best hurlers ever in the game, selected at left corner-forward on the GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium.
The GAA Collection is available on the IFI Archive Player and suite of apps for a limited time only.
The DVD boxsets can be purchased from the IFI Film Shop.