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

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