We need to talk about Peter Collins

Peter Collins pic

Last month, for the first time in a couple of years, I decided to give an episode of Soccer Republic a miss. I haven’t even watched the last three on the RTÉ Player.

Tonight’s show will probably open with highlights of Dundalk’s brilliant performance against BATE in the Champions League and I’m sure the panelists worked hard to prepare analysis for us. Maybe the team have put together another one of those great montages. My God, the montages.

But I just can’t face it. After a glorious two week holiday, I have been dreading the stiff introduction to a “crucial Airtricity League Premier Division fixture”. I outright refuse to listen to Peter Collins anymore.

It is abundantly clear to me and countless other viewers that Peter Collins has no interest in football. He doesn’t watch it. He doesn’t get it. He seems surprised by anything that happens.

Is it too much to ask that the host of a football highlights show be a fan? I’d argue that it should be a minimum requirement to be the face of our league coverage, to have some emotional investment in a league that faces an uphill battle to capture the imagination of a sports-loving public every year.

His full-time predecessor was Con Murphy, a man who couldn’t help but show his love for Shamrock Rovers from time to time. No one could deny Con was a passionate supporter of the League, and he added greatly to the programme.

Inevitably, a few debates about poor attendances come about during the season and a man, who has likely not been to more than a couple of League of Ireland grounds in his life (off duty), is sitting there asking how “we” can get more people through the turnstiles.

Collins’ wooden presence does those who actually care about the League a disservice.

The Après Match skits this summer were funny but talk about shooting fish into a barrel. “The European draw was made for the Euros” and “Because of the strength of both squads, that game always had the potential to be a draw” are not things that Risteard Cooper came out with – the original Peter Collins said them.

Nobody speaks this way in a real life conversation, like a written match report read out loud, nor would they transition from one segment to the next with the finesse of a circus elephant, needlessly summarising everything we just heard. Hash tag no doubt we’ll come back to discuss this issue later in the season.

Unfortunately, like that uncle no one likes, I think Mr. Collins sees himself as something of a comedian too. He once said “It’s time to cease the pre-match banter”, ignoring his own Alan Partridge-esque advice with lines such as “Tekkers”, “Smash hit!” and “The Awsnal”, which nearly trumped Clive Tyldesley’s Oasis impression.

What has made it especially difficult to switch on the TV on Mondays was the bloody marvellous job his stand-in had done during his fortnight absence and her baffling return to the sidelines.

The reaction to Joanne Cantwell as presenter was overwhelmingly positive and not for the first time either.

We know from when she anchored a Champions League semi-final that Joanne is sharp, and Cork pundit Dave Barry, so used to getting a free pass when he goes off on a tangent and ends up saying nothing whatsoever, obviously hadn’t been challenged like this in a long time. It looked like he enjoyed it too.

Many fans commented on a good July 11th episode. The Stephen Kenny interview was one of their best in years, thanks to Joanne asking intelligent, probing questions of the Dundalk manager. It made for a lively show.

No one knows if Joanne Cantwell supports a LOI team (like Con Murphy) but it’s clear she likes football and that she understands the topic she’s presenting on and what her audience wants.

Joanne Cantwell succeeded Con Murphy as presenter of the rugby programme Against The Head when he left in 2008 and I can’t think of one good reason why she didn’t take over Monday Night Soccer too, after Con vacated the presenter’s chair in 2012.

Peter Collins would still be covering Formula 1 and the Olympics, and I’m sure, if we absolutely had to, we could tolerate him on commentary at the World Cup once every four years.

Oh.

MNS was rebranded as Soccer Republic in 2014, to encompass the latest news surrounding the Irish international team and shifted to a new slot (7pm to 11.05pm).

Champions League content was introduced and quickly dropped, while segments such as ‘Celebrity Six’ and ‘Free Kick King’ were replaced by a torturous Euro 2016 song contest this season (shoutout to Jacqui Hurley and my favourite MNS feature of all time, ’60 Sixty’).

The response to Joanne’s performance largely explains the apathy towards the show that I have noticed recently when chatting to friends about it. The audience has always been there, ready and willing to have a bit of pride and excitement in how the product is showcased, particularly after such incredible results in Europe.

The broader show will continue to experiment and it will always have its critics. A First Division highlights package isn’t going to happen anytime soon but here is one refreshing change that might please everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

These Go To Eleven

Since October, I’ve ran @Peile50YearsAgo, posting real-time Tweets from Irish football fifty years ago.

Friday marks the last day of the 1965-66 domestic season as Shamrock Rovers face Bohemians in the final of the Top Four Cup (although, spoiler alert: it will require two replays).

This has been a lot of fun to do; I rather enjoy the old-timey language, the big crowds, the dramatic rise of Waterford and the huge importance placed on the FAI Cup.

One thing I disliked, however, was the constant mention of a “record” Shamrock Rovers supposedly equalled by winning 11 league games in a row. Every week the media would write about it.

It was enough to make any statistician weep. There were times I found myself longing for a time traveling closet, like in a Stephen King novel, to go back and find W.P. Murphy of the Irish Independent (and those who copied him) to set the record straight once and for all.

Bohemians, in fact, had won their first 15 games of the 1923-24 season but this ’11’ myth has persisted for over 50 years and appeared in a newspaper again just this past week.

Limerick’s blistering start to this season’s First Division has re-opened the topic, as the Super Blues set a First Division record by winning each of their opening 8 games (now 9).

Curiously, the only Premier Division teams (Cork City and Sligo Rovers) to win their first 8 both failed to go on and win the title.

Here’s part of an article I wrote for LOI Monthly last year, which talked about those winning starts by Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers.

————————————————————————————

‘Somebody must kidnap Sligo Rovers’, screamed the headline of the Irish Press. Despite finishing a lowly tenth in the Shield before the start of the league season, Sligo would hit the ground running in the 1936-37 Free State League Championship with a 100 per cent record at the half-way stage.

It was an Englishman, Harry Litherland, whose name was on everybody’s lips. Litherland scored 19 league goals in his first season for Sligo, a total not beaten until Eoin Doyle scored 20 in 2011. He scored a brace in a club record 9-0 win over Dolphin and the following week the former Everton centre-forward got another two goals in the 6-1 victory over Shamrock Rovers at Milltown.

Sligo’s run crashed with a terrific thud by losing 8-2 away to Waterford in January 1937. Although their form dropped slightly after that, the Westerners took their first title by 10 points, which remained the highest ever margin in a two points for a win system.

Sligo's title winning team in 1936-37

In 1965, Shamrock Rovers won the Shield for an impressive seventeenth time. Rovers were given a bye into the second round of the Fairs Cup and the Hoops went out of the competition rather gallantly on a 3-2 aggregate scoreline to Real Zaragoza.

Rovers made a storming start to the league season and on 16 January 1966, from ten matches played, they were five points clear with not the slightest blemish on their run. In a strange twist, the team trying to foil the Hoops of 11 wins in a row was Sligo who had accomplished the feat 29 years earlier.

The game attracted a magnificent attendance under the adverse weather conditions which prevailed on the south side of the city and Shamrock Rovers rather deservedly emerged narrow winners on a snow-covered pitch at Milltown.

Sligo goalkeeper Finbarr Flood watched almost in amazement as Johnny Fullam hit a 25 yard free kick straight into the corner of the net after 28 minutes. Six minutes later Shamrock Rovers were two up when Frank O’Neill, always a menacing figure on the right wing, sent over a chipped cross for Bobby Gilbert to head home his 9th league goal of the campaign.

Three minutes after the interval and with the snow falling heavily, Jimmy Burnside pulled a goal back for the Bit O’ Red with a great hooked shot over his shoulder to keep the home supporters worried until the final whistle.

The talking point of the game, however, was the penalty in the second half that never was. To the crowd it was a staggering sight to see Liam Tuohy head the ball for the corner of the net and Sligo left-back, Paul Dowling, unable to reach it with his head, dive, and with his hands extended, turn the ball around the post without being penalised.

Referee Billy O’Neill, the target for many an accurate snowball when he managed to get within range of spectators at either end of the ground, said after the game: ‘I saw Dowling dive with his hand out but I thought the ball beat him. There was a strong glare with the snow and the white ball, and now everybody tells me I was wrong’.

16 Jan 1966 Bobby Gilbert (not pictured) scores against Sligo as Liam Tuohy looks on

The line-ups on that Sunday afternoon were as follows. Shamrock Rovers: Smyth; Keogh, Courtney, Mulligan, Nolan, Fullam, O’Neill, Tyrell, Gilbert, Tuohy, O’Connell. Sligo Rovers: Flood, Murray, Dowling, Quinn, Pugh, Dunne, Millington, Turner, Burnside, Corcoran, McDonnell.

Rovers had completed the first half of the season without dropping a point and established what looked an unassailable lead but in just three weeks the table underwent a remarkable transformation.

Their winning streak was brought to a halt with a 3-2 defeat at home to Bohemians and on February 6th a record crowd of 24,000 packed Milltown to see Rovers play their nearest challengers Waterford, who won the game by a single goal.

That was to have a vital bearing on the destination of the title and an incredible run of 13 straight wins would catapult Waterford to the top of the table by March, a position Paddy Coad’s men would not relinquish. It was to be the beginning of a new order in League of Ireland football.

Best Winning Starts
15 – Bohemians in 1923-24
11 – Sligo Rovers in 1936-37
11 – Shamrock Rovers in 1965-66
9 – Bohemians in 1929-30
9 – Limerick in 2016 (First Division)
8 – Waterford in 1971-72
8 – Cork City in 1998-99
8 – Sligo Rovers in 2013

Abandoned!

The Headlines

An article I wrote for Hoops Scene in October 2015.

It’s extremely rare, especially since the move to summer football, that a Rovers game is abandoned. But it does happen, and Hoops Scene has some strange tales for you.

Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians at Milltown 28/02/1937.
After about 12 minutes play the high wind and heavy snowfall caused this Dublin Derby to be abandoned. The pitch was quickly covered and with the lines almost obliterated, the referee consulted the captains and assistant officials before making his decision. Bohs were winning 1-0; the re-fixed game was played on 14th April when the Hoops won 3-0. It was one of only four seasons that neither club occupied the top six of the table – the others were 1949-50, 1998-99 and 2006.

Shamrock Rovers v St James’s Gate at Milltown 19/08/1940.
Rovers and St James’s Gate were drawing one-all in the L.F.A. President’s Cup final when midway through the first half a spectator collapsed and died on the reserve side of the ground at Glenmalure Park, who was soon discovered to be the father of Gate player George Jackson. The match was stopped and Mary Jane Cunningham went on to the field and informed Jackson of the tragedy. The final was not replayed until the end of the season, this time at Shelbourne Park, and Rovers won 2-1.

Shamrock Rovers v Shelbourne at Dalymount Park 26/12/1945.
Paddy Coad gave the Hoops the lead in the Leinster Senior Cup final against Shelbourne but then the game was called off shortly after the interval due to heavy rain. The Phibsboro pitch had become unplayable with players sliding yards on the mud when they fell. Whether or not it should ever have been started is another question and a section of the crowd staged a demonstration asking for their money back. The Leinster Council re-fixed the game for mid-January, which Shels won 4-0!

Shamrock Rovers v Drumcondra at Dalymount Park 05/09/1956.
Rovers and Drums were level on goals and corners in the first period of extra-time, before Alf Bond, the one-armed London referee, decided to abandon this Dublin City Cup final because of failing light. Mr. Bond, who officiated the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Birmingham that year, had lost his right arm at the age of 19 when working in a rubber factory. W. P. Murphy in the Irish Independent said that his actions earned the universal approval of the public, for “it would have been a pity to see such a magnificent struggle decided by a fluky goal in the dark or a corner kick”. The following week it was, in fact, their superiority of 8 corners to 7 that gave the Hoops the trophy.

Shamrock Rovers v Drumcondra at Tolka Park 26/01/1958.
There was mayhem at a jam-packed Tolka Park as fists flew, boots were raised, and the referee, Sergeant Tommy Cannon, had to clear the railings at the entrance to the pavilion like a Grand National candidate. Although the official attendance, in what had been the League of Ireland’s first all-ticket game, was 12,053 the fact was that many others made their way in over the walls and the crowd was so vast that fans were sitting on the ground right along the sidelines. An incident in the Drumcondra goalmouth sparked off the invasion and it was clear that a resumption of the remaining 25 minutes was out of the question. The result, 2-1 to Rovers, was later allowed to stand.

Sligo Rovers v Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds 17/01/1965.
After a half an hour of the most futile endeavour to combat atrocious conditions, referee Willie Butler blew a long whistle and very correctly abandoned the whole thing in Sligo. Rain, hail and sleet – we had the lot – the players floundered and slithered about on a hopelessly muddy pitch while Butler was blinded by those intense showers. The Hoops were beaten when the two sides met again in March and for Pat Courtney, it was a doubly unhappy occasion, as his right knee was ripped and required five stitches at the local hospital, his first injury of any consequence in four years.

Shamrock Rovers v Manchester United at Dalymount Park 14/10/1973.
Rovers hosted the George Best assisted Manchester United in an exhibition game but due to crowd encroachment which threatened to turn the occasion into a farce the referee had no other choice but to rescue the match ball and call it a day. When hundreds of kids stormed the field 10 minutes from the end, Best took one amused look and showed his smartest turn of speed of the night to find safety in the dressing rooms. Roughly 20,000 people attended the game, providing the Hoops with some much needed finance to bring Donal Murphy, Dougie Wood and Bobby Collins to Milltown.

Louis Kilcoyne and George Best pictured in October 1973

Limerick v Shamrock Rovers at Markets Field 27/01/1974.
Bad weather caused the cancellation of two League of Ireland fixtures – Cork Celtic v Waterford at Turner’s Cross (34 minutes) and Limerick v Shamrock Rovers (50 minutes) at the Markets Field. It was a miracle that either game started in the first place but the gale force winds and lashing rain made it impossible to play football for the respective teams in Munster. Mick Meagan was making his debut for Rovers that day; Limerick won the replay 1-0 a couple of months later.

Finn Harps v Shamrock Rovers at Ballybofey 06/12/1981.
The referee saw the light, or rather he didn’t, with 15 minutes to go in the game between Harps and Rovers. Even as the second half commenced, it was obvious that the fading light was going to cause problems and it was no surprise when goalkeeper Alan O’Neill indicated to John Carpenter that he was having difficulty judging the flight of the ball. O’Neill had kept a clean sheet up to then, as had his counterpart Charlie McDermott, who pulled off several tremendous saves. The Dublin side had to make the long journey to Ballybofey again in April 1982, when they came away with a 2-0 victory.

Shamrock Rovers v Waterford United at Tolka Park 18/05/2007.
During a home game against Waterford in the Tolka days a floodlight pylon on the Drumcondra Road end of the ground appeared to be unstable as it swayed loosely in the strong wind. Seven minutes into the second half, under Garda advice, Declan Hanney called a halt to proceedings. It was 1-1 at that stage and Rovers chairman Jonathan Roche accepted the decision: “The safety of the players, officials and supporters is paramount and there was no option other than to abandon the game.” Rescheduled for July, late goals from Ger Rowe and Tadhg Purcell earned all three points.

As a side note, in Pat Fenlon’s first match in charge of Hibs, in December 2011, his team were winning 1-0 against Motherwell but one of the Fir Park floodlights caught fire to bring the game to a premature end. Richie Towell was an unused substitute…he’d only have fanned the flames.

Tolka Park in May 2007

Gone in 60 Minutes

4467 SRFC LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 1983-84

The Dublin City Cup was, despite its name, a competition that involved all League clubs and began in 1934/35. It was played as either a knockout tournament or as a one-round league type competition. Like the Shield it was discontinued in 1973 though it was revived on a limited basis in 1975/76 and 1983/84.

The Dublin City Cup was traditionally seen as the fourth most important competition for League of Ireland sides but in 1983 neither the League and League Cup champions (Athlone Town) nor FAI Cup holders (Sligo Rovers) took part as the six Dublin clubs (Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne, St Patrick’s Athletic, UCD and Home Farm), plus Dundalk and Drogheda United went into two groups.

The arrangements for the City Cup would be a blitz affair. It was wrapped up before the start of the League Cup campaign, with experimental rules and a shortened playing time, beginning with a double-header at Tolka Park on Thursday, September 1st.

There was only half an hour each way in every game except for the final. They introduced a rule banning back passes to the goalkeeper and charged just £1.50 per head to the stands for two matches in the hope of enticing more spectators but sadly their plan back fired.

By negating the back pass, it was the League’s intent to encourage a positive approach from the players. However, the response was negligible and scrappy and uninteresting football was the order of the night for the crowd who provided a moderate gate of £1000.

Drogheda defender Noel Greenhalgh came closest to transgressing the new back pass rule. Back pedaling rapidly with the ball at his feet he looked towards keeper Brendan Flynn, but, with his backswing half completed, suddenly remembered that a back pass was not on and scrambled the ball into touch.

Apart from this and a similar hesitation from Bohemians full back Barry Murphy the “American style rules” were adhered to, noted the Irish Press, but the Drogheda-Home Farm game was “so bad it would have taken ice hockey to liven it up”. After a dismal, scoreless 60 minutes, Matt Bradley’s penalty miss for the Boynesiders got the biggest cheer of the night, while new English centre-forward Benny Laryea was the inspiration of Dundalk’s 3-2 win over Bohs.

On Friday, the rain came down with a vengeance at Milltown. Dermot Keely’s UCD adapted rapidly to the increased pace brought about by the back pass rules, beating St Pat’s 2-0. Keely was in his first managerial job but he ended up moving to Shamrock Rovers as a player just a couple of months later.

Rovers joined the Students as the other Group 1 semi-finalist thanks to Alan Campbell’s header against Shelbourne. With the new rules to cope with neither team was happy on the pitch. All eight teams were in action again on the Sunday.

At Harold’s Cross, a first half free kick from Liam O’Brien saw Rovers beat UCD 1-0 and Pat’s impressed in a 2-0 victory over Shels. Both ties at United Park went to penalties. Dundalk were fortunate to oust Home Farm and advance to the final after a 1-1 draw while there no goals between Drogheda and Bohs, with Drogs claiming joint third place on spot-kicks.

The final was staged at Dalymount Park the following Wednesday and although the back-passing ban was maintained, the duration of the proceedings was restored to the normal ninety minutes.

Jim McLaughlin’s reign as manager of Shamrock Rovers got the best possible start when his side lifted the Cup by beating his old Dundalk after the third scoreless draw and fourth penalty shootout in less than a week. There was no disguising the delight on the face of the new Rovers boss as they were presented with the trophy, the first of many in his tenure at Milltown.

Ironically what practically decided it was when Paul McLaughlin, Jim’s son, had his effort brilliantly saved by Jodi Byrne. In 1988, the Dublin Millennium Committee approached the League to stage the Dublin City Cup of old to heard in the new season but nothing came of it. The back-pass rule as we know it today was introduced by FIFA in 1992, and extended to include throw-ins in 1997.

1983-84 Dublin City Cup

First Round

1 Sep – Home Farm 0-0 Drogheda United at Tolka Park (Home Farm won on pens)
1 Sep – Dundalk 3-2 Bohemians at Tolka Park
2 Sep – UCD 2-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic at Milltown
2 Sep – Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Shelbourne at Milltown

Winners’ Playoff

4 Sep – Shamrock Rovers 1-0 UCD at Harold’s Cross
4 Sep – Dundalk 1-1 Home Farm at United Park (Dundalk won on pens)

Losers’ Playoff

4 Sep – St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 Shelbourne at Harold’s Cross
4 Sep – Drogheda United 0-0 Bohemians at United Park (Drogheda won on pens)

Final

7 Sep – Shamrock Rovers 0-0 Dundalk at Dalymount Park (Rovers won on pens)

The Byrne Supremacy III

Jason_Byrne_UCD_resized

This is my second update of the definitive record of Jason Byrne’s career in the League of Ireland. Byrne, who turns 38 next week, only scored one league goal for Bohemians last season to put him on 217. He has joined First Division side UCD in one last bid to beat Brendan Bradley’s all-time best of 235.

All the statistics and analysis below has been fully updated up to the end of 2015. The FAI count playoff matches towards a player’s league record so I have done the same here.

To ensure accuracy I went through each and every league goal on http://www.soccerbot.com and then compared them to various sources, including European Football Yearbooks, National League Annuals, http://www.irishfootballonline.com, http://www.braywanderers.com and http://www.extratime.ie.

I discovered only a few minor errors on Soccerbot; there was an incorrect date and two instances where they did not put a goal down as a penalty kick. However, there were many inconsistencies when it came to his total appearances (including the Airtricity League Media Guide) so they took a lot longer to finally get right.

Once again, dedicated to Pat Morley.

Career total – 408 (63) appearances, 217 goals
1998-99 – Bray Wanderers – 15 (2) appearances, 5 goals
1999-00 – Bray Wanderers – 26 (7) appearances, 7 goals
2000-01 – Bray Wanderers – 30 appearances, 11 goals
2001-02 – Bray Wanderers – 29 (1) appearances, 14 goals
2002-03 – Bray Wanderers – 20 appearances, 12 goals
2003 – Shelbourne – 34 appearances, 21 goals
2004 – Shelbourne – 33 (1) appearances, 25 goals
2005 – Shelbourne – 31 appearances, 22 goals
2006 – Shelbourne – 22 (4) appearances, 15 goals
2008 – Bohemians – 17 (12) appearances, 7 goals
2009 – Bohemians – 32 (2) appearances, 22 goals
2010 – Bohemians – 24 (6) appearances, 12 goals
2011 – Dundalk – 19 (5) appearances, 6 goals
2012 – Bray Wanderers – 25 appearances, 13 goals
2013 – Bray Wanderers – 33 (2) appearances, 15 goals
2014 – Bohemians – 16 (3) appearances, 9 goals
2015 – Bohemians – 2 (18) appearances, 1 goal

Career total – 471 appearances, 217 goals
Bray Wanderers – 190 appearances, 77 goals
Shelbourne – 125 appearances, 83 goals
Bohemians – 132 appearances, 51 goals
Dundalk – 24 appearances, 6 goals

League
Premier Division – 208
First Division – 7
Playoff – 2

Halves
First half – 98
Second half – 119

When Byrne scored, his team…
Won – 113
Drew – 34
Lost – 19

Hat-tricks
4 goals – 2 times
3 goals – 9 times
2 goals – 27 times
1 goal – 128 times

Goals by club
St. Patrick’s Athletic – 22
Shamrock Rovers – 21
UCD – 21
Drogheda United – 21
Longford Town – 19
Waterford United – 13
Dundalk – 13
Bray Wanderers – 12
Derry City – 12
Bohemians – 9
Dublin City – 8
Cork City – 8
Galway United – 7
Sligo Rovers – 7
Shelbourne – 6
Finn Harps – 5
Athlone Town – 3
Limerick – 3
Home Farm – 2
Kilkenny City – 2
Cobh Ramblers – 2
Monaghan United – 1

Home/Away
Home – 137
Away – 80

Province
Leinster – 196
Munster – 10
Connacht – 6
Ulster – 5

Goals by venue
Tolka Park – 62
Carlisle Grounds – 53
Dalymount Park – 36
Hunky Dorys Park – 9
Richmond Park – 9
UCD Bowl – 7
Oriel Park – 6
RSC – 5
Flancare Park – 4
Terryland Park – 4
Turner’s Cross – 4
Morton Stadium – 2
The Brandywell – 2
Belfield Park – 2
Finn Park – 2
Tallaght Stadium – 2
The Showgrounds – 2
Buckley Park – 1
St. Mel’s Park – 1
Hogan Park – 1
Whitehall – 1
Century Holmes Park – 1
Lissywollen – 1

Months
September – 44
April – 33
October – 28
March – 25
May – 24
June – 19
August – 13
July – 11
November – 9
January – 5
February – 3
December – 3

Days
Friday – 137
Monday – 23
Tuesday – 18
Saturday – 17
Sunday – 15
Thursday – 4
Wednesday – 3

Note: Byrne started two games against Dublin City in 2006 and one against Monaghan United in 2012. He scored at Gortakeegan, which was wiped from the record when Monaghan withdrew from the league mid-season (à la Dublin City). These 3 appearances and 1 goal, while listed at the bottom of the post for completeness, are discounted from all facts and figures.

Debut, top scorer record, penalties, landmarks
Jason Byrne made his league debut for newly promoted Bray Wanderers on 30 August 1998 in a 1-0 defeat at home to Cork City. He scored in his next game against Shamrock Rovers at Tolka Park. From a corner, in the 54th minute, Byrne was unmarked at the near post and his rising header finished in the top right hand corner of the net gave Forde no chance. In his first spell with Bray they rarely lost a game in which he scored, winning 12 in a row from January 2001 to March 2002.

Byrne is the only player in history to be League of Ireland top goalscorer in four consecutive seasons which he achieved with Shelbourne from 2003 to 2006. He wasn’t the highest league scorer at his club on five occasions; that honour went to Bray’s Barry O’Connor in 1999-00 (having been joint best with him the previous season), Killian Brennan for Bohemians in 2008, Dundalk’s Mark Quigley in 2011 as well as Bohs strikers Dinny Corcoran (2014) and Ismahil Akinade (2015).

He has scored 32 penalties to date. Eight of them have been scored against Shamrock Rovers with ten spot kicks converted at Dalymount Park. Byrne never scored one in his first spell at Bray as Colm Tresson and Eddie Gormley were on penalty taking duties at the time. He last missed a penalty against Sligo Rovers in April 2014 when Gary Rogers saved his 95th minute effort.

Byrne’s landmark goals were when he got his half century on the opening day of the 2003 season, scored his 100th goal against Longford Town in June 2005, reached 150 goals with a penalty at Tallaght Stadium in May 2009 and smashed the 200 goal barrier in June 2013 by hitting the back of the net four times at the UCD Bowl. It took Brendan Bradley 14 seasons to reach 200 goals; Byrne accomplished it in his 15th season.

Strike rate, league wins, best/worst totals and runs, awards
Byrne currently has a 46% strike rate in his League of Ireland career. It was 41% at Bray Wanderers, 66% with Shelbourne and 39% for Bohemians. He only scored a goal every four games for Dundalk. His worst performance in a single season was 1 goal (0.05 goals per game) last year but he only made the starting lineup twice. He has scored in 166 games overall, his season best being 18 games in 2004.

Byrne has five Premier Division winners’ medals from 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009, with a last minute strike for Bohs against Drogheda to seal the 2008 title. He was voted PFAI Players’ Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004. The 2004 season was a personal best for the Dubliner as he hit 25 league goals for Shelbourne, played in a dream Champions League Third Qualifying Round tie with Deportivo and earned his first cap for the Republic of Ireland international team. He scored his first hat-trick for the Reds on 4 June 2004, the night before his wedding day!

Byrne played in the fewest number of games in 1998-99 but largely due to the fact that he broke his ankle in January and missed the rest of the league campaign, famously returning to score in Bray’s FAI Cup final triumph. He was ever-present for the Wanderers in 2013.

Byrne’s record goalscoring run in the League of Ireland is nine games in a row for Shelbourne from November 2003 to April 2004. His single season best is seven from July to September 2003. When Bray Wanderers took on Drogheda United on 24 May 2013, Byrne had not scored in his last 10 games for the club.

By the time he left UCD campus a fortnight later he had helped himself to consecutive hat-tricks, scoring seven goals in two games! However, that was not his worst scoreless streak. He went 12 matches with a goal from October 1998 to September 1999 and 11 straight games during the 2001/02 season (all starts).

Byrne has won a record six Player of the Month awards, in September 1998 (Bray), September 2003 (Shelbourne), April 2004 (Shelbourne), October 2005 (Shelbourne), May 2012 (Bray) and June 2013 (Bray). He scored 8 goals in both September 2004 and September 2005 but didn’t win the prize in either of those months – instead it went to Daryl Murphy (Waterford United) and Peter Hutton (Derry City) respectively.

Clubs, home/away, venues, first/second half, Cardiff, goalscoring sub
Byrne has scored against 22 different clubs. In 2004 and 2009, he scored against every team in the league (nine of them). He netted in all four meetings with Dublin City in 2004 with a total of eight goals against the Vikings. The last campaign was the first time in eight seasons that he failed to score against Drogheda United and he is set to face Cabinteely for the first time. He went six straight seasons without scoring against Shamrock Rovers (2010-15).

Byrne scored 17 home goals in 2005 and 11 away goals in 2004. The most home goals have come against St. Patrick’s Athletic (16) and the most on his travels to Shamrock Rovers (12), scoring in five different away grounds against the Hoops; Tolka Park, Morton Stadium, Richmond Park, Dalymount Park and Tallaght Stadium.

Byrne has scored in 23 different stadiums so far. The most home goals have been scored in Tolka Park (52) with ten away goals in the Drumcondra venue against three different clubs – Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers and Dublin City. 121 goals of the goals were scored in Dublin and he last found the net at the Brandywell in 2004. There are three new venues for him to score in this season – Market’s Field, St Colman’s Park and Stradbrook.

In September 2005 he had completed a hat-trick for Shelbourne against Waterford United by half-time. Byrne’s quickest hat-trick though was in the last 17 minutes of Bohemians’ 5-0 win over Dundalk in May 2009, adding a fourth goal in injury time. He has scored in the first minute of a game on three occasions; v Derry in February 2001, v Longford in September 2001 and after just 33 seconds at home to St. Pat’s in May 2003.

Byrne notched one league goal for Cardiff City in the Championship. He came off the bench to make his debut on 20 January 2007, scoring the winner with two minutes to go in a 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. The veteran striker has scored just five times as a substitute in this country, all for Bohs, v Finn Harps in June 2008, v St. Pat’s in September 2008, twice v UCD in March 2010 and March 2014 and v Limerick in May 2015.

Brendan Bradley scored one goal for then Irish League side Derry City and it was his debut against Coleraine in the North-West City Cup final on 11 May 1968. He scored 12 league goals for Lincoln City in the 1972-73 season and one in the FAI Cup. Both men scored seven of their LOI goals in the First Division.

In all competitions for League of Ireland clubs, Bradley netted 307 goals including 22 in the FAI Cup and one Cup Winners’ Cup strike in 1974. Byrne is on 276 overall, with 28 FAI Cup and 10 European goals.

1998-99 Premier Division
04.09.98 – Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Bray Wanderers…1
19.09.98 – Bray Wanderers 1-0 Shelbourne…1
25.09.98 – Bohemians 1-2 Bray Wanderers…1
17.10.98 – Bray Wanderers 6-0 Waterford United…2

1999-00 First Division
11.09.99 – Bray Wanderers 5-0 Cobh Ramblers…1
30.10.99 – Kilkenny City 5-1 Bray Wanderers…1
28.01.00 – Athlone Town 1-1 Bray Wanderers…1
15.02.00 – Bray Wanderers 5-1 Home Farm Fingal…1
18.02.00 – Limerick FC 1-2 Bray Wanderers…1
08.04.00 – Home Farm Fingal 2-2 Bray Wanderers…1
11.04.00 – Bray Wanderers 3-1 Athlone Town…1

2000-01 Premier Division
13.08.00 – Shelbourne 0-1 Bray Wanderers…1
10.09.00 – Bray Wanderers 2-2 Shamrock Rovers…2
06.10.00 – Bray Wanderers 3-0 Kilkenny City…1
29.10.00 – Bray Wanderers 2-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
12.01.01 – Bray Wanderers 3-1 Longford Town…1
09.02.01 – Bray Wanderers 2-1 Derry City…1
01.04.01 – Shamrock Rovers 1-2 Bray Wanderers…2
29.04.01 – Longford Town 1-3 Bray Wanderers…1
06.05.01 – Bray Wanderers 4-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1

2001-02 Premier Division
17.08.01 – Galway United 0-2 Bray Wanderers…1
19.09.01 – Bray Wanderers 5-1 Longford Town…2
21.09.01 – Bray Wanderers 5-1 Dundalk…3
06.01.02 – Bray Wanderers 2-1 Shamrock Rovers…2
31.01.02 – Derry City 1-2 Bray Wanderers…1
01.03.02 – Bray Wanderers 4-1 Longford Town…3
16.03.02 – Monaghan United 0-3 Bray Wanderers…1
25.03.02 – Bray Wanderers 1-2 Dundalk…1

2002-03 Premier Division
12.07.02 – UCD 1-1 Bray Wanderers…1
05.08.02 – Bray Wanderers 1-5 Shelbourne…1
30.08.02 – Bray Wanderers 3-2 Drogheda United…2
13.09.02 – Bray Wanderers 3-3 Derry City…2
23.09.02 – St. Patrick’s Athletic 1-2 Bray Wanderers…1
29.11.02 – Bray Wanderers 2-0 Longford Town…2
08.12.02 – Bray Wanderers 1-3 Bohemians…1
13.12.02 – St. Patrick’s Athletic 1-4 Bray Wanderers…2

2003 Premier Division
11.04.03 – Waterford United 0-4 Shelbourne…2
18.04.03 – Shelbourne 1-0 Derry City…1
22.04.03 – Shelbourne 3-2 Longford Town..1
25.04.03 – Drogheda United 1-1 Shelbourne…1
02.05.03 – Shelbourne 2-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic…2
18.07.03 – Shelbourne 1-1 UCD…1
07.08.03 – Shelbourne 1-1 Cork City…1
01.09.03 – Waterford United 1-2 Shelbourne…1
05.09.03 – Shelbourne 3-1 Derry City…1
19.09.03 – Shelbourne 2-1 Longford Town…2 (1p)
23.09.03 – Drogheda United 0-1 Shelbourne…1
26.09.03 – Shelbourne 2-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
28.10.03 – Shamrock Rovers 2-4 Shelbourne…2 (1p)
17.11.03 – Shelbourne 2-0 Drogheda United…1
21.11.03 – Shelbourne 2-0 Cork City…1
24.11.03 – Longford Town 2-1 Shelbourne…1
28.11.03 – Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Shelbourne…1 (p)

2004 Premier Division
19.03.04 – Shelbourne 1-0 Shamrock Rovers…1
27.03.04 – Derry City 0-2 Shelbourne…1
02.04.04 – Shelbourne 3-0 Drogheda United…1
05.04.04 – Bohemians 1-1 Shelbourne…1 (p)
09.04.04 – Shelbourne 2-1 Dublin City…1 (p)
16.04.04 – Shelbourne 1-1 Longford Town…1
30.04.04 – Shelbourne 2-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic…2
04.06.04 – Dublin City 1-3 Shelbourne…3
08.06.04 – Shelbourne 2-2 Cork City…1 (p)
18.06.04 – Shelbourne 1-0 Waterford United…1
01.09.04 – Waterford United 3-1 Shelbourne…1
06.09.04 – Shelbourne 4-1 Dublin City…3
20.09.04 – Shelbourne 3-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
24.09.04 – Shamrock Rovers 1-4 Shelbourne…3 (1p)
08.10.04 – Drogheda United 2-5 Shelbourne…1
15.10.04 – Shelbourne 1-1 Bohemians…1
21.10.04 – Dublin City 2-3 Shelbourne…1
12.11.04 – Shelbourne 2-1 Waterford United…1

2005 Premier Division
01.04.05 – Shelbourne 1-0 Waterford United…1 (p)
21.04.05 – Longford Town 0-2 Shelbourne…1
29.04.05 – Shelbourne 4-1 Bray Wanderers…1
06.05.05 – Shelbourne 3-0 Finn Harps…1
27.06.05 – Shelbourne 1-0 Longford Town…1
01.07.05 – Shelbourne 1-2 Derry City…1
08.08.05 – Shelbourne 3-3 Drogheda United…1
19.08.05 – Shelbourne 2-1 Bohemians…1 (p)
02.09.05 – Shelbourne 4-2 UCD…3 (1p)
09.09.05 – Shamrock Rovers 0-2 Shelbourne…1 (p)
16.09.05 – Shelbourne 5-0 Waterford United…3
23.09.05 – Finn Harps 0-3 Shelbourne…1
15.10.05 – Longford Town 0-2 Shelbourne…1
28.10.05 – Shelbourne 1-0 Finn Harps…1
31.10.05 – Shelbourne 5-0 Bray Wanderers…3 (1p)
18.11.05 – Bohemians 0-3 Shelbourne…1

2006 Premier Division
10.03.06 – Bray Wanderers 2-2 Shelbourne…2 (1p)
24.03.06 – St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-2 Shelbourne…1
07.04.06 – Waterford United 0-1 Shelbourne…1
15.05.06 – Cork City 2-1 Shelbourne…1 (p)
02.06.06 – Shelbourne 4-1 Bray Wanderers…1
06.06.06 – Shelbourne 1-0 Derry City…1
27.06.06 – Shelbourne 3-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic…2
21.07.06 – Shelbourne 6-0 UCD…2
28.07.06 – Shelbourne 3-0 Sligo Rovers…2
11.08.06 – Shelbourne 2-2 Cork City…1
20.10.06 – UCD 0-2 Shelbourne…1

2008 Premier Division
28.03.08 – Bohemians 3-0 Finn Harps…1 (p)
11.04.08 – Bohemians 1-1 Bray Wanderers…1 (p)
24.06.08 – Finn Harps 0-2 Bohemians…1 (p)
01.08.08 – Bohemians 3-0 Cobh Ramblers…1
08.09.08 – Bohemians 3-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
10.10.08 – Drogheda United 1-2 Bohemians…2

2009 Premier Division
20.03.09 – Bohemians 2-0 Shamrock Rovers…2 (1p)
07.04.09 – Galway United 0-2 Bohemians…2
11.04.09 – Bohemians 3-0 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
24.04.09 – Bohemians 2-0 Bray Wanderers…1
01.05.09 – Bohemians 5-0 Dundalk…4 (1p)
16.05.09 – Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Bohemians…1 (p)
29.05.09 – Cork City 0-1 Bohemians…1
02.06.09 – Bohemians 2-0 Galway United…1 (p)
19.06.09 – Bohemians 2-0 Sligo Rovers…1 (p)
03.07.09 – Bray Wanderers 1-3 Bohemians…1 (p)
19.07.09 – Bohemians 1-0 Derry City…1
18.09.09 – Bohemians 3-2 Dundalk…2
09.10.09 – Bohemians 4-0 Drogheda United…1
20.10.09 – Bohemians 3-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
30.10.09 – Bohemians 3-1 Sligo Rovers…1
06.11.09 – Bray Wanderers 1-1 Bohemians…1

2010 Premier Division
16.03.10 – UCD 1-2 Bohemians…1
19.03.10 – Drogheda United 2-4 Bohemians…2
06.04.10 – Bohemians 1-1 St. Patrick’s Athletic…1
16.04.10 – Bohemians 2-3 Galway United…1
08.05.10 – Sligo Rovers 1-2 Bohemians…1
21.05.10 – St. Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 Bohemians…1
10.09.10 – Bohemians 3-1 UCD…1
13.09.10 – Bohemians 2-0 Drogheda United…1
05.10.10 – Bohemians 1-0 Shamrock Rovers…1
22.10.10 – Galway United 3-2 Bohemians…1 (p)
29.10.10 – Bohemians 3-1 Dundalk…1 (p)

2011 Premier Division
04.03.11 – Shamrock Rovers 3-1 Dundalk…1 (p)
11.03.11 – Dundalk 3-2 Galway United…1
01.04.11 – Dundalk 3-1 UCD…1
15.04.11 – Dundalk 1-1 Sligo Rovers…1
02.05.11 – Dundalk 1-1 Shamrock Rovers…1 (p)
12.08.11 – Drogheda United 2-2 Dundalk…1

2012 Premier Division
16.03.12 – UCD 2-3 Bray Wanderers…1
23.03.12 – Bray Wanderers 2-4 Drogheda United…1
30.03.12 – Cork City 1-1 Bray Wanderers…1
13.04.12 – Shelbourne 2-1 Bray Wanderers…1
27.04.12 – Monaghan United 0-1 Bray Wanderers…1*
04.05.12 – Bray Wanderers 2-1 Bohemians…1
11.05.12 – Dundalk 0-2 Bray Wanderers…2 (2p)
18.05.12 – Bray Wanderers 3-3 St. Patrick’s Athletic…2
01.06.12 – Bray Wanderers 3-1 UCD…2
07.07.12 – Sligo Rovers 1-1 Bray Wanderers…1
19.10.12 – Bray Wanderers 1-4 Bohemians…1 (p)

2013 Premier Division
08.03.13 – Bray Wanderers 1-0 Shelbourne…1
24.03.13 – Drogheda United 2-1 Bray Wanderers…1
29.03.13 – Bray Wanderers 2-2 UCD…1
24.05.13 – Bray Wanderers 3-2 Drogheda United…3
08.06.13 – UCD 4-5 Bray Wanderers…4
19.07.13 – Bray Wanderers 1-3 Bohemians…1 (p)
04.08.13 – Bray Wanderers 1-1 Shelbourne…1
08.09.13 – Bray Wanderers 1-1 UCD…1
28.10.13 – Bray Wanderers 2-2 Longford Town…2 **

2014 Premier Division
07.03.2014 – UCD 0-3 Bohemians…1
07.04.2014 – Athlone Town 1-3 Bohemians…1
18.04.2014 – St. Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 Bohemians…1
25.04.2014 – Cork City 1-1 Bohemians…1
02.05.2014 – Bohemians 1-1 Derry City…1
15.08.2014 – Bohemians 2-1 Drogheda United…1
05.09.2014 – Bohemians 2-1 Bray Wanderers…1
26.09.2014 – Bohemians 2-0 Limerick…1
24.10.2014 – Bohemians 2-1 Derry City…1 (p)

2015 Premier Division
08.05.2015 – Bohemians 2-1 Limerick…1

* Match annulled
** Promotion/Relegation Playoff

League of Ireland Books

Recently I was asked to recommend some League of Ireland related books.

Of the 116 books listed here, I own 102. The year of publication is in brackets and I’ve placed an * beside the ones I don’t have.

Some are booklets, pictorial histories and even poetry. If anyone wants information on something in my collection, or if you can think of more to add, please get in touch.

Since Alex Graham’s table and results book was updated I sold the 2006 version at this year’s programme fair – for €3! Maureen O’Hara (Shamrock Rovers), Keith Gillespie (Longford Town) and Roy Keane (Cobh Ramblers) mention LOI clubs in their autobiographies.

Apparently Tony Reid wrote a history of Waterford in the 1970s. There are also books on the Leinster Football Association, Leinster Senior League, Munster Football Assocation and Munster Senior League.

I bought the MSL one written by Gerry Desmond and Dave Galvin, the same authors of the Irish Handbooks in the 90s, plus a Glenmore Celtic Golden Jubilee.

You will find the results and goalscorers of every league game from the 1987-88 to 2014 seasons in the European Football Yearbooks, except 1988-89, 1989-90 and 2003.

Airtricity League Media Guides were released in PDFs in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 but I have never seen one, either in print or online, for the 2011 season.

I’ve one other e-book, ‘The Irish Brawn Drain’, which was published by the British Journal of Sociology in 2000.

Athlone Town
A History of Athlone Town F.C. The First 101 Years – by Frank Lynch (1991)
Who Needs Cantona We’ve Got Rod de Khors – by Kevin O’Neill (2005)
When We Were Kings: The Story of Athlone Town’s 1924 FAI Cup Triumph – by Tadhg Carey (2009)
In Rod We Trust: How Athlone Won the League – by Kevin O’Neill (2013)

Bohemians
Bohemian A.F.C. Official Club History 1890-1976 – by Tony Reid (1977)
Bohemian Football Club Golden Jubilee Reprint (1988) *
Bohemian Times: An Outline History of Bohemian Football Club & Dalymount Park 1890-1993 – by Phil Howlin (1994)
Dalymount Park: The Home of Irish Football – by Colin White (2015)

Dalymount book

Bray Wanderers
Tales of The Wanderers 1996-98 – by Colm Keane (1998)
Triumphant Seagulls: Bray Wanderers AFC 12 Days of Glory Cup Winners (1999)
More Tales of The Wanderers 1998-2000 – by Colm Keane (2000)
Bray Wanderers 25 Years in League of Ireland Football 1985-2010 – by Aidan O’Toole (2010)

Cobh Ramblers
Cobh Ramblers AFC Golden Jubilee Souvenir Brochure (1979) *

Cork & Cork Celtic/Hibs/City
Soccer Memories Volume 1, Cork – by Plunkett Carter (1980) *
Evening Echo A Century of Cork Memories – by Plunkett Carter (1996)
From The ‘Lodge to the Box: A Miscellany of Cork Soccer – by Plunkett Carter (2002)
Reflections From The Shed – by Darren O’Keeffe (2010)
The Dav: Anecdotes and Stories from Inside & Outside the Box – by Carl Davenport (2010)
Death of a Football Club? The Story of Cork City FC: Season 2008 – by Neal Horgan (2014)
Soccer in Munster: A Social History 1877-1937 – by David Toms (2015) *

Derry City
The Derry City F.C. Story 1928-1986 – by Frank Curran (1986)
A History of Derry City Football and Athletic Club 1929-1972 – by W.H.W. Platt (1986)
Come on the City: Derry City Down the Decades (1986) *
Derry City Football Club Diary of a Season Special Championship Souvenir 1986/87 – by Richard Cambell & Michael O’Donnell (1987)
Eddie McMahon’s Derry City – by Eddie McMahon (1997)
Born to Play: The Liam Coyle Story – by Joe W. Doherty (2002)
When You’ve Read Their History: 75th Anniversary of Cup Campaigns – by Derry City Sports Project Committee (2003)
The Team I Loved So Well – by Gary Ferry (2008)
Derry City FC The Journey So Far – by Gary Ferry (2015)

Drogheda United
Drogheda United The Story So Far – by Tom Reilly (2007)
DUFC A Claret and Blue History – by Brian Whelan (2010)

Dundalk
The Story of Dundalk League and Shield Winners 1966-67 (1967)
My Most Difficult Opponent – by Barry Kehoe (1989) *
Dundalk FC 70th Anniversary Season Media Guide (1996)
The History of Dundalk F.C. The First 100 Years – by Jim Murphy (2003)
C’mon The Town: A Dundalk FC Miscellany – by Jim Murphy (2013)
Dundalk FC Champions 2014 Season Review – by Gavin McLaughlin (2014)
The Double: Dundalk FC – by Gavin McLaughlin (2015)

Finn Harps
The Strings of my Harps – by Patsy McGowan (1998)
The Finn Harps Story – by Bartley Ramsay (2008)
Finn Harps F.C. Our First Season: Celebrating 40 Years of League of Ireland Football (2009)
Finn Harps 1974 FAI Cup Winners 40th Anniversary Souvenir Programme (2014)
Diary of the Finn Harps Season: Promotion 2015 (2016)

Galway United
Galway United FC 25th Anniversary Celebration – by Pat Kelly & Paul O’Brien (2002)
Chick: The Eamonn Deacy Story – by Ger Geraghty (2015)

Home Farm
Home Farm Football Club Yearbook (1975) *
Home Farm The Story of a Dublin Football Club 1928-1998 – by Brendan Menton (1999)

Kilkenny City
Mud Sweat & Jeers – by Jim Rhatigan (2000)

Limerick
How Limerick Won the League – by the Limerick Leader (1980) *
The End of an Era: A History of Limerick Senior Soccer at the Markets Field 1937/1984 – by Aidan Corr & Bernard Spain (1985)

Mervue United
The History of Mervue United 1960-2010 – by Willie Henry (2011)

St Patrick’s Athletic
Back from the Brink – by Paul McGrath (2006)

Shamrock Rovers
Shamrock Rovers Three in a Row 1983/4, 84/5, 85/6 (1986)
Come on the Hoops: The Story of Shamrock Rovers Ireland’s Greatest Football Club – by Charlie Willoughby (1987)
The Hoops: A History of Shamrock Rovers – by Paul Doolan & Robert Goggins (1993)
Shamrock Rovers 100 Years – by Robert Goggins (2002)
We Are Rovers: An Oral History of Shamrock Rovers FC – by Eoghan Rice (2005)
Dyed in the Wool: Memoirs of a Hoops Fan – by Robin Browett (2005)
The Four-in-a-row Story – by Robert Goggins (2009)
Chronological History of Shamrock Rovers FC – by Robert Goggins (2012)
Through The Hoops – by Jimmy Cummins (2013)
Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009-2012 – by Macdara Ferris & Karl Reilly (2013)

Shamrock Rovers books

Shelbourne
Shelbourne Football Club Golden Jubilee 1895-1945 Official Souvenir (1945) *
Shelbourne FC: Facts and Figures – by Frank Martin (1996)
Shelbourne Double Champions 2000 (2000) *
Shelbourne Cult Heroes: From Bulawayo to Ballybough – by Sean Fitzpatrick (2009)
Shelbourne’s European Run 2004 – by Peter Goulding (2013)
Shels: A Grand Old Team to Know – by Christopher Sands (2016)

Sligo Rovers
A History of Sligo Rovers – by Tony Reid (1980)
Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down! – by Billy Sinclair (1991) *
They Think It’s All Over – by Declan Burke, Martin Finan & Stephen Fahy (1995)
A History of Sligo Rovers 1928-1997 – by Joe Molloy (1997)
There’s Only One Red Army – by Eamonn Sweeney (1997)
North West Frontier: Professional Football in the F.A.I. National League – by Conall Collier (1998)
Stories of the Showgrounds – by Kevin Colreavy (2014)

UCD
UCD AFC Golden Jubilee – by S.B. Hooper (1945) *
St. Patrick’s Blue & Saffron: A Miscellany of UCD Sport since 1895 – by Patrick N. Meenan (1997)

Waterford United
Singing The Blues – by Brian Kennedy (2006)
Blue, White & Dynamite: A Collection of Waterford Football Stories – by Brian Kennedy (2007)

League
Who Stole Our Game? The Fall and Fall of Irish Soccer – by Daire Whelan (2006)
Just Follow The Floodlights! The Complete Guide to League of Ireland Football – by Brian Kennedy (2011)

FAI Cup
Gillette Book of the FAI Cup – by Sean Ryan & Terry O’Rourke (1985)
The Official Book of the FAI Cup – by Sean Ryan (2011)

Europe
Gods Vs Mortals: Irish Clubs in Europe, A Front Row Seat at 10 of the Greatest Games – by Paul Keane (2010)
Grobar: Partizan Pleasure, Pain and Paranoia. Lifting the lid on Serbia’s undertakers – by James Moor (2013)

International
Ireland On The Ball – by Donal Cullen (1993)
The Boys in Green: The FAI International Story by Sean Ryan (1997)
The Garrison Game: The State of Irish Football – by Dave Hannigan (1998)
Ireland’s First Real World Cup: The Story of the 1924 Ireland Olympic Football Team – by David Needham (2012)
The Irish Soccer Split – by Cormac Moore (2015)

Stats
Bass Sports Book of Irish Soccer – by Noel Dunne & Sean Ryan (1975)
A Record of League of Ireland 1921/2-1984/5 – by Niall Macsweeney (1985)
The AFS Book of Inter League Matches: A Complete Record – by R.J. Spiller (1985)
The Book of Irish Goalscorers – by Sean Ryan & Stephen Burke (1987)
Irish Football Handbook 1991-92 – by Gerry Desmond & Dave Galvin (1991)
European League Results Surveys: Eire – by Dave Allen & Graeme Riley (1992)
Irish Football Handbook 1992-93 – by Gerry Desmond & Dave Galvin (1992)
Irish Football Handbook 1993-94 – by Gerry Desmond & Dave Galvin (1993)
Irish Football Handbook 1994-95 – by Gerry Desmond & Dave Galvin (1994)
National League Annual 1996 – by Michael Hayes (1995)
National League Annual 1996-97 – by Michael Hayes (1996)
National League Annual 1997-98 – by Michael Hayes (1997)
National League Annual 1998/99 – by Michael Hayes (1998)
Eircom League Annual 1999/00 – by Michael Hayes (1999)
Eircom League Annual 2001/02 – by Michael Hayes (2001)
Republic of Ireland Football League Tables and Results 1921-2005 – by Alex Graham (2006) *
League of Ireland Media Guide 2009 – by Michael Hayes (2009)
Airtricity League Guide 2010 – by Michael Hayes (2010)
Republic of Ireland Football League Tables and Results 1921-2012 – by Alex Graham (2013)

Other
League of Ireland Yearbook – by Tony Reid (1977)
The Football League of Ireland Rules and Yearbook 1989-90 (1989) *
90/91 Irish Soccer Supporter’s Guide – by Patrick Brizay (1990)
The Supporters’ Guide to Irish Football 1998 – by John Robinson (1997)
The Supporters’ Guide to Eircom FAI Clubs 2005 – by John Robinson (2005)
The Supporters’ Guide to Eircom FAI Clubs 2006 – by John Robinson (2006)

END OF YEAR PLUGS
Here are the links to the four articles I wrote online outside of this blog in 2015. They were on the Asian Cup for Back Page Football, the FAI Cup quarter-finals for GOAL and a couple for Balls.ie called The League of Ireland’s Most Goal Shy Team and Can You Steal a Sporting Statistic?

Of course, Pat Sullivan, Mark Rossiter, Stephen McPhail and Chris Shields all scored within two weeks of me writing about their goal droughts. Finally, myself and Shamrock Rovers graphic designer Declan Swanton made this infographic for Damien Duff’s 100 caps for Ireland, shortly before Duffer decided to hang up his boots.

In October, I launched a second Twitter account (@Peile50YearsAgo) with a real-time Tweets from Irish football in the 1960s gimmick. Ireland lost a controversial playoff with Spain, which saw Eamon Dunphy make his debut, and the World Cup draw in England is just days away.

Shamrock Rovers have won each of their first 8 games but guess who goes on to win their first ever title? Bohs have won their first trophy in 19 years and Sligo are flying too. Meanwhile, Drogheda and the Cork clubs struggle and the futures of St Pat’s at Richmond Park and the Leinster Senior Cup are in doubt.

The Two Jimmys

A commemorative plaque sits in Tolka Park, detailing the quickest League of Ireland hat-trick ever, on 19 November 1967. It was caught on film, too.

In a country where it is almost impossible to achieve verification of some important statistics, we are as sure as sure can be that Jimmy O’Connor scored three goals for Shelbourne in 2 minutes and 13 seconds, versus Bohemians that day.

O’Connor’s goals were scored into the Tramway End of Dalymount Park although his efforts were almost stymied when a minor delay caused the kick-off to be delayed by 30 seconds before his third strike.

His record was ignored by the Guinness Book of Records until a campaign by Shelbourne fans restored O’Connor’s feat to its rightful (?) place in history in the Millennium 2000 issue.

Contact was made with referee Michael Quinn and, combined with video footage and newspaper clippings, O’Connor’s feat belatedly eclipsed those of Blackpool’s Jock Dodds and Gillingham’s Jimmy Scarth.

The question has always been whether it is the fastest hat-trick in the world – three goals have been scored inside two minutes in professional leagues in Scotland, Brazil and Sweden – but, I have a different question for you. Is it even the fastest hat-trick ever scored in the League of Ireland?

In January 1968, nearly two months after O’Connor’s rapid-fire goals, Matthew Murtagh, described as a keen student of the facts of the game, wrote in to the Irish Press in the belief that it is not.

“I saw O’Connor score the goals, but I knew I had seen it being done before and in quicker time”, he said. “I spent a lot of time checking, and I have come up with the answer.

On Saturday, September 5, 1936, Jimmy Hart, a Scottish player, made his debut with Shelbourne against Cork in the Shield at Shelbourne Park and he scored a hat-trick in under two minutes. I was at the game.”

He had proof of the feat in the newspaper cuttings of the game which state that “the goals were scored in under two minutes”.

Unlike Mr. Murtagh, I spent very little time checking this, thanks to the wonders of the Irish News Archive and the internet, and you can see a picture of the Irish Press report from the 1936 match below.

Both the Irish Independent (“scored a hat-trick in two minutes”, “between the 30th and 32nd minute”) and the Irish Examiner (“before two minutes had elapsed had his hat-trick completed”) back this up.

So, while O’Connor’s name has been celebrated for decades, immortalised by that indisputable YouTube video at our fingertips, sadly, Hart seems to be a forgotten man despite his speedier treble.

In 2004, Tommy Ross submitted his claim. He scored three times in 1 minute and 30 seconds for Ross County against Nairn County in November 1964.

The reason for the delay was that the Scotsman mistakenly believed there had to be two official timekeepers for it to stand. On the day of the match against Nairn, the referee was the only timekeeper.

However, Magnus Arvidsson completed a hat-trick in an incredible 89 seconds for Hassleholm against Landskrona in a Swedish second tier match in 1995.

The fastest top flight hat-trick was reported at 1 minute 50 seconds by Argentinian striker Eduardo Maglioni for Independiente v Gimmasia de la Plata in March 1973.

Where is ShelsWeb when you need it?

Justice for Jimmy!

Er, again.

Irish Press 13 Jan 1968

Irish Press 7 Sep 1936