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Anton O'Toole – Finscéal de Shaol GAA airs on TG4 this December 29th at 9.20pm
22 Dec 2022 : News Desk
Anton O'Toole – Finscéal de Shaol GAA.
Featuring heart-warming anecdotes and exclusive archive footage, Bankos Tales Productions’ new documentary tells the story of Dublin footballing icon Anton O’Toole and the Synge Street club man’s story links to the modern day team.

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), and Mickey Moran (Derry).

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.

The strong emotional stories promise to capture the hearts of 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.

Produced by Bankos Tales Productions and directed by Sarah Share and AnnaMay Mullins,   the documentary was produced for TG4 with funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland under their Sound & Vision scheme. Bankos Tales is best known for their documentary work including The Irish Derby – Níos Mó Ná Rása, The Irish Grand National – Chasing a Dream, and Paddy Mullins – The Great Stayer

Mary Black, a friend of O'Toole's who 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”.

Former Dublin footballer and five-in-a-row manager, Jim Gavin said 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 in the programme shows Gavin speaking on the day, saying: “The legacy you have left, the footsteps in the sand and these lads are trying to walk in the sand behind you, is outstanding.” 

All-Ireland winning footballer, Ciarán Kilkenny was present that day, and tells of the insipration he took from meeting O’Toole. “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’” Kilkenny explained. “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, 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.”

Anton O'Toole - Finscéal de Shaol GAA will be broadcast by TG4 on Thursday, December 29th at 9.20pm.

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