Dublin GAA player Anton O’Toole honoured by former teammates in new documentary

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

Anton O’Toole was a star for the Dubs

The team of the 1970s and 1980s reunited

Dennis Bastick says Anton’s mentorship helped him reach success

Eugene MastersonSunday World

The remaining members of Dublin’s legendary three-time All-Ireland winning team of the 1970s reunited for a picnic in a documentary remembering their late great teammate Anton O’Toole.

Absent from the picnic at the time was another icon of the time, Brian Mullins, who could not make it on the day of filming.

Brian passed away in September but before his death recorded his own tribute to his fellow former maestro, who died at the same age of 68 in 2019.

Brian will be seen in his last recorded piece for TV speaking in perfectly fluent Irish for the superb TG4 documentary about the former Synge Street stalwart, who won four All-Irelands — the last in 1983 — eight Leinster titles and three All Stars.

The team of the 1970s and 1980s reunited

“Anton dedicated himself to whatever he carried on his strong shoulders,” reflects former midfielder Brian of the famous full forward who was known as the ‘Blue Panther’.

Brian adds that Anton’s huge funeral was a testament to the respect he had earned from Heffo’s Army and the Boys in Blue.

“The Mass and the funeral were like an invitation to celebrate the influence that Anton had on us all, both as a footballer and as a significant figure in Dublin and Ireland,” he said.

He also believed the Dublin team of the 1970s and 1980s would beat the record breaking six-in-a-row team of today.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that our team of the’ 70s would beat today’s team every time. Every time,” he proclaimed.

Former Dublin footballer and five-in-a-row manager Jim Gavin recalls bringing in Anton one day to meet the heroes of today, who fittingly helped carry his coffin in one sequence at his funeral, as did members of the 1970s/80s 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 ’70s teams and the great ’80s teams and reflect on those players that had gone before them,” recalls Jim.

He pays tribute to the player he idolised as a boy: “The legacy you have left, the footsteps in the sand and these lads are trying to walk in the sand behind you, is outstanding,” he says in the tear-jerking documentary.

Dennis Bastick says Anton’s mentorship helped him reach success

Dublin ace Ciarán Kilkenny, who was present on the day of Anton’s visit, says 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’.

Former Dublin five-time All-Ireland winner Dennis Bastick was mentored by O’Toole at Templeogue Synge Street club.

“Through his help and dedication, I was able to go on and achieve success throughout my Dublin career,” he says.

  • Anton O’Toole – Finscéal de Shaol GAA (A Legend of GAA Life) is on TG4 on Thursday at 9.20pm.

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