Synge Street to Sam Maguire: The Greatest Sporting Story in GAA History Airs this Christmas

by Gazette Reporter
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  • Heart-warming anecdotes and exclusive archive footage tell the story of Dublin footballing icon Anton O’Toole and the Synge Street club man’s story links to the modern day team
  •       A historic Dublin line-up reminisce on the GAA golden age
  •      Powerful and emotional insight into a bygone era of Ireland’s most celebrated game
  • Contributors include Mary Black, Niall Quinn, Denis Bastick, Ciarán Kilkenny, Eoghan O’Gara, Jim Gavin,  Brian Mullins, David Hickey, Michéal O Muirchearthaigh and opponents, Colm O’Rourke (Meath) Ger Power (Kerry), Mickey Moran (Derry) and more…

Anton O’Toole – Finscéal de Shaol GAA is a fast-paced one-hour bilingual documentary filled with nostalgia, rare archive footage and legendary songs. It tells the fascinating story of the much-loved ‘Blue Panther’ from his schoolboy career at Synge Street CBS to a giant of Croke Park and a legend in the game. Its strong emotional stories will capture the hearts of all viewers, in a journey that spans generations.  Anton O’Toole was one of the superstar players of the iconic Dublin football team of the 1970s. They transformed the sport in the city and sparked off a Gaelic football revolution in Ireland, with changes that cemented the GAA’s place at the heart of Irish culture. Anton’s story is told against the backdrop of historical events and gives insight into how GAA/sport relates to society in general including diversity and inclusion.

Mary Black, a friend of O’Toole’s  sang ‘On Raglan Road’ alongside his former teammates at the end of Anton’s funeral mass.

“I knew Anton before I was born,” Black said. “My mother and Anton’s mother were in hospital having their babies together, my eldest brother Shay and Anton and they struck up a great friendship”.

Jim Gavin, Former Dublin footballer and (five-in-a-row) manager, Anton was his sporting hero as a kid and he called on him to inspire his team:

“In the summer of 2018 we brought Anton out to one of our training sessions, at the time he was sick and it was good for him to get out and meet people and see the lads training, but probably more important for the players to see one of their heroes up front, we would have spoken a lot about the great 70’s teams and the great 80’s teams and reflect on those players that had gone before them”.

Rare archive, Jim Gavin speaking on the day.

“The legacy you have left, the footsteps in the sand and these lads are trying to walk in the sand behind you, is outstanding”.      

Ciarán Kilkenny, Dublin footballer who was present, O’Toole was an inspiration to him.

“That was a very special day we were all around Anton looking at clips and videos of games he played , he gave us a lot of inspiration because he was a true hero and a historical figure in Dublin football as the ‘The Blue Panther’. But thanks  to Anton’s presence there that day, he provided us with great courage and confidence as we faced into the final that year (2018).”

O’Toole was sporting hero to another big icon of Irish sport when he was a kid, Niall Quinn:  

“Anton was a Southsider we all looked up to and said he’s our man,” “There will never be another Blue Panther.”

Roy Curtis, 2022 Newspaper Columnist of the year, previously two time Sports Writer of the Year also pays an emotional tribute to his friend:

“I thought it was really interesting when I asked him what was the day he most cherished and most remembered, typically with Anton he chose the day when the stardust shone on others, the 18th September 2011, when Dublin won the All-Ireland for the first time in 16 years.”

Former Dublin 5-time All-Ireland winner including from the 2011 team, Denis Bastick was mentored by O’Toole at Templeogue Synge Street: “Through his help and dedication I was able to go on and achieve success throughout my Dublin career”.

Alan Larkin, Dublin, former team-mate and friend and spokesperson for the iconic Dublin Gaelic football team of the 70’s. “Poor Anton collapsed while playing golf with John McCarthy” .

Anton O’Toole – Finscéal de Shaol GAA, will be broadcast by TG4 on Thursday, December 29th at 9.20pm. Funded by the Broacasting  Authority of Ireland.

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