‘A five, a five-oh’: Is this Dublin’s most devoted fan?

Tony Broughan has gone to Dublin football matches dressed as Molly Malone since 1975

88-year-old Tony Broughan from Cabra has been a Dubs supporter for all of his life. Since 1975 he has gone to Dublin football matches dressed as Molly Malone. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

For almost 80 years, Tony Broughan has been going to Dublin GAA matches; he still goes to nearly every single game, following the team up and down the country. But it’s not just his devotion to the team that marks him out; it might also be the dress.

Since 1975, he has gone to Dublin football matches dressed as Molly Malone, and on Sunday, he will initiate a new member of the Broughan family into the tradition: his grandson Tighe, who will step out with his grandfather in Molly Malone garb for the first time. From Sunday, Tighe will carry on the family tradition alongside Tony.

“I’m gonna die on the Hill,” Mr Broughan said last week. He still doesn’t have a ticket for Sunday’s game – and is still actively seeking one, but for his beloved Hill only. “The craic is great on the Hill 16. They’re always very good to me down on the Hill. They all sing Molly Malone when I go in, there’s a great buzz when I go down.”

He has seen great Dublin teams come and go. He rates the teams of the 1950s and 1960s, which fielded brothers Lar and Des Foley, as among the best, alongside manager Kevin Heffernan’s “Heffo’s Army” of the 1970s.

Aspirations

However, despite the record-breaking aspirations of the current Dublin crop’s “drive for five”, Mr Broughan is modest in his praise. “They’re going well. So far so good. Only one more match; hope they can do it,” he says.

Tony Broughan took over duties as Molly Malone from his brother, Danny, who died in the mid 1970s, and has faithfully played his part since. He has lived for many years on Carnlough Road in Cabra West, where he raised eight children with his wife, Rose. In the same home, he cared for Rose in the last years of her life when she suffered with dementia. Before he retired, he worked with Dublin Corporation in the capital’s sewers, where he developed a reputation for being able to clear any blockage in the system.

Tony Broughan with his grandson Tighe, who will carry on the family tradition and dress as Molly Malone when attending Dublin’s matches. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Tony Broughan with his grandson Tighe, who will carry on the family tradition and dress as Molly Malone when attending Dublin’s matches. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Tighe (11) may be eager to follow in his grandad’s steps as Molly Malone, but professionally he would prefer to be a livestreamer on YouTube than working below ground. Failing that, he has a fallback plan to be a teacher or a scientist. He counts himself lucky to have known only success as a Dublin fan and is now pleased to be able to continue the family tradition. “I’m happy to be able to do it for me granda,” he said.

But is he worried about being slagged by his friends for wearing a dress to the match? “No, not really; if me grandad got through it, I’ll get through it.”

As for Sunday’s match, in Tony’s 80 years following Dublin, he’s learned to be sanguine about victory and defeat. “You win, you win. You lose, you lose. It’s only a match.”