Retro Special: Celtic 1979
In a further tribute to the great Tommy McConville we have footage of one of the most famous matches he was ever involved in – the visit of Glasgow Celtic to Oriel Park for the European Cup 2nd Round match on 7th November 1979. The footage includes a great interview with Dermot Keely – Dundalk’s captain that night who spoke so beautifully at Tommy’s funeral on Monday.
Dundalk had been narrowly defeated 3-2 at Parkhead in the first leg. The Glasgow Herald reported after the match that “No one seemed to have told the collection of Irish bankers, butchers and company directors that they were not supposed to have a chance against the Scottish Champions: it was to be a picnic for Celtic and a goal feast for the fans. But brave Dundalk, with several players less than 100% fit, defied all the odds to and came so close to nearly pulling off an even greater shock.”. The Daily Record also praised Dundalk’s performance: “Let me be blunt. This was not a case of the luck of the Irish. No Leprechauns guarded their goal. No blarney was used to con the Celts. The Parkhead crowd watched in eloquent silence as Dundalk celebrated a moral victory.”
Dermot Keely’s Memory
Speaking in 2010, Dermot Keely recalled the excitement of the occasion. “The 1st leg is match I remember well. We were getting pounded over there. I remember asking Paddy Dunning how could we survive this and he told me to “stand on the edge of the box and pray!” Dundalk were one of the first sides ever to play square at the back. Yet I stepped up twice and Celtic got in twice to score.
I remember somebody going down injured and Jim McLaughlin himself ran on the pitch with a water bottle. He looked at me with venom in his eyes and shouted at me – “See if you step up again? I will f***ing strangle you!!” It was a great night. We of course nearly went through in the second leg. Tommy Mc nearly scored at the end. It was a night Danny McGrain’s beard turned grey!
Celtic was the outstanding memory of my European experience. I couldn’t believe that they could get that many people into Oriel Park and then the directors saying afterwards that they didn’t have any money to pay a bonus!
So Close! Tommy’s Memory:
As seen in the video, the famous miss by Tommy McConville is not as glaring as the legend suggests – but in typical Tommy fashion he was always very self-depreciating and full of humour when asked to talk about it. “I missed it because I backed Celtic! I got a nice house in Farndreg out of it!! Seriously, Tony Cavanagh crossed the ball into the box. Cathal Muckian got a wee knick on the ball which took the ball away from me. The ball ended up jumping over my foot. That was it. I was thinking that if I scored they would take down the Maid of Erin and stick me up there!
All of these European games were fantastic. They were great occasions. There was a great buzz around town in the lead up to the games. People would come up to watch the opposition team train.
I was never afraid of anybody when playing in Europe for Dundalk. Apart from Keely!