The 1953 All-Ireland drew the largest crowd ever to attend a hurling final, 71,195. However, the game itself is often recalled, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. Galway, who had surprisingly beaten a much-fancied Kilkenny team in the semi-final, were intent to disrupt Cork’s game and marked their players closely throughout, particularly the much-feared Christy Ring. Ring (number 12) was marked by Galway captain Mickey Burke (5) who followed the Cork hero wherever he moved, frustrating Ring’s attempts to get into the game. Eventually, as Breandán Ó hEithir claimed in his book Over the Bar, Ring snapped and ‘hit him a belt in the face.’ Ó hEithir has suggested that the ‘belt’ concerned is visible in this footage and there is indeed an off-the-ball ‘encounter’ between Ring and Burke apparent in the passage of play that results in Hubert Gordon second half equaliser for Galway. However, accounts of the game indicate that Ring himself was equally subject to some very hard tackles and injury, as well as abuse from a sizable segment of the crowd attending who booed him whenever he managed to get possession, though this abuse is not evident.
Though O’Hehir makes reference to ‘Mickey Burke subduing the immortal Christy Ring’, he is quiet on the unsportsmanlike behaviour reported in the press at the time, apart from his description of ‘plenty of close hard hurling’ in the game. Indeed, there is noticeably more close play captured here by Stafford and Robert Monks, who took over the filming duties from Georg Fleischmann, including some fine scores from Cork’s Paddy Barry (15), Josie Hartnet (11) and the ‘bootless’ Willy John Daley (10). However, sometimes the eagerness of the cameraman to capture the reaction of the crowd to scores means the scores themselves are missed or only very briefly featured, including the final winning goal by Cork’s Tom O’Sullivan (13). As well as some wonderful shots of crowds gathering in Dublin city before the game, the Minor clash between Tipperary and Dublin is also included. As well as featuring a young Seán O’Sullivan, who would win four All-Irelands with Tipp in the 1960s, Tipperary minors were captained on the day by Billy Quinn, father of the future Republic of Ireland striker, Niall.
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