Miracle of the Magyars (lost Dermot Morgan screenplay of unmade football drama film; 1990s)

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Newspaper clipping reporting on the Republic of Ireland-Yugoslavia match, its controversial occurrence providing the inspiration for the unmade film.

Status: Lost

Miracle of the Magyars is an unmade football drama film. It was based around the 10th October 1955 match between the Republic of Ireland and Yugoslavia, and how some 22,000 fans attended despite strong objections from then-Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid. It is known that a screenplay was been worked on by Dermot Morgan, before his death resulted in the film never coming to fruition.


The inspiration for Miracle of the Magyars traces back to 1952.[1][2] The Republic of Ireland were set to invite Yugoslavia for a friendly international football match at Dalymount Park in Dublin.[2][1] However, the upcoming match caught the attention of Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid.[2][1] Archbishop McQuaid was considerably against communism, as the ideology is decisively anti-religious.[1][2] Additionally, he was incensed that Yugoslav President, Tito, had placed Archbishop Aloys Stepinac under house arrest.[2][1] Archbishop Stepinac had supported Croatian leader Ante Pavelić, with both opposing the Yugoslavic communist state.[3][2][1] Pavelić had also committed forced conversions to Catholicism with the threat of persecution for those who refused.[2][1][3] Pavelić and the Ustaše were deemed responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of Jews and Gypsies, and hundreds of thousands of Serbs.[2][1][3] It should be noted however that Archbishop Stepinac had opposed the genocide, denouncing the attacks in a 1942 mass.[3] Whereas Pavelić would later escape to Argentina, Archbishop Stepinac was placed under house arrest for opposing Yugoslavia and for his support of Pavelić's regime.[2][1][3] He was later convicted in 1946, although this was historically overturned in 2016 by a Croatian court.[3]

Despite Archbishop Stepinac's initial support of a regime that had committed genocide, Archbishop McQuaid backed him and used his house arrest to attract support and sympathy for the arrested Archbishop, and to grow his influence on Ireland.[2][1] Back in the 1950s, Ireland and its political system was still greatly influenced by the Catholic Church, with Archbishop McQuaid becoming a key player surrounding the country's anti-communist stance during this time period.[2][1] Thus, when the Archbishop wanted the upcoming Ireland-Yugoslavia game be cancelled, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) curtailed to his demand.[1][2] But just three years later, the FAI again decided to invite Yugoslavia for an encounter that would occur on 19th October 1955 at Dalymount Park.[1][2]

As before, Archbishop McQuaid strongly opposed the upcoming game, and was also furious the FAI did not seek his permission to invite Yugoslavia for the match.[1][2] This time, the FAI refused to abandon the match, believing the politics should not be integral to to the sports sphere.[1] Thus, on 15th October, the Archbishop publicly called for a boycott of the encounter.[2][1] His urgings did influence some, with RTE being unable to televise the game as several within its sports department, including commentator Philip Greene, refusing to have any part of the event on religious and moral grounds.[4][1][2] However, despite the strong opposition led by Archbishop McQuaid, the game went ahead with 22,000 in attendance, just over half of Dalymount's 40,000 capacity.[5][1][2] The FAI and the Republic of Ireland national football team would receive praise for defying the Catholic Church, with others ridiculing the Archbishop's role in the country.[2][1] Ireland would ultimately lose the encounter 4-1.[5][2][1]

Miracle of the Magyars

Actor and comedian Dermot Morgan was three when the failed boycott transpired.[1] According to Morgan's son Donnchadh, Dermot was mistreated by the Christian Brothers during his raising as a Catholic, with one even going as far to claim Morgan would never amount to anything.[6][1] He would later become an atheist, and would make critical comments surrounding the Catholic Church.[7][8] He was also a big football fan, supporting both UCD and Chelsea.[7][1][6] Morgan's biggest claim to fame was in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, starring as the eponymous Roman Catholic priest sent to exile in Craggy Island.[8][1][6][7]

During a 1996 interview on The Late Late Show Morgan discussed some of the projects he was working on.[9][1] He stated he was writing a film screenplay surrounding the Ireland-Yugoslavia game, titled Miracle of the Magyars.[10][1][9] According to Donnchadh, Morgan became both aware and interested in the incident during the early-1990s, combining two subjects he was intrigued with.[1] Unlike with other projects, Donnchadh noted his father was especially excited with the concept.[1] However, the screenplay Morgan wrote notably changed the visitors to Hungary, potentially so that was not constrained with making an accurate historical film, and instead detail aspects such as the Catholic Church's influence on Ireland and those who defied it.[1] Donnchadh claimed the screenplay was more of a drama than a comedy, but one where comedians could theoretically be starring in as part of a straight role.[1]

It is known that Gerry Stembridge, who had co-created Scrap Saturday alongside Morgan, had viewed a draft of the screenplay.[1] It was also one of three two other football-based projects Morgan was writing about, the others being Re-United and The Kaiser Conspiracy.[11][1][10] However, none of these projects were ever completed, as Morgan would suddenly pass away from a heart attack on 28th February 1998, aged 45.[1][8][10] Miracle of the Magyars was known to have been in a "really advanced stage of production/development" prior to Morgan's death.[1]


Following his father's death, Donnchadh remained adamant he would preserve the screenplay.[1] However, with him being involved in his own endeavours at age 19, Donnchadh would ultimately lose sight of it.[1] He claims however that it may still be within his possession, albeit somewhere within his attic.[1] Additionally, he speculates that Devlin and his father's agent John Fischer may have also possessed copies of the screenplay.[1] As of the present day, the screenplay remains missing.[1]

See Also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 The 42 providing a detailed overview of Morgan's work on Miracle of the Magyars and the story it was inspired from. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 History Ireland detailing the story behind Archbishop McQuaid's attempts to prevent the Republic of Ireland playing Yugoslavia. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 BBC News reporting on Archbishop Stepinac's conviction being overturned in 2016. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  4. The Irish Times noting RTE's aborted attempt to broadcast the match. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  5. 5.0 5.1 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the match and other statistics. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Irish Times' interview of Donnchadh Morgan. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Free Library providing an interview from The Daily Mirror where Morgan discussed his love of football and becoming an atheist. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 BBC News reporting on Morgan's death and noting his critical comments towards the Catholic Church. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 RTE Archives noting Morgan discussed the screenplay in a 1996 interview on The Late Late Show. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The Irish Post noting Morgan's work on Miracle of the Magyars and Re-United. Retrieved 21st Nov '22
  11. Independent detailing Morgan's work on Re-United. Retrieved 21st Nov '22