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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.

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‘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

Party Poopers

An article I wrote for Hoops Scene in August 2014:

April 2, 1989 was supposed to be coronation day for the most successful manager ever in the domestic game. Derry City needed just one point to be sure of winning their first Premier Division title when the Noel King led Shamrock Rovers took on Jim McLaughlin’s hometown club that Sunday afternoon. Once good friends, the pair had fallen out.

6231 NOEL KING & JIM McLAUGHLIN (DERRY MANAGER) 2 APR '89 (1-0)

“I don’t want to know about the Cup being brought here, it seems like tempting fate”, said the ultra-wary McLaughlin, even in the knowledge that the only way it could be returned temporarily to official keeping was if Derry lost to his former Milltown charges and Dundalk defeated St. Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.

This Derry team, which contained no less than five of the players who had assisted Shamrock Rovers to the historic Four in a Row, were on a 13 game winning streak. Meanwhile an understrength Rovers side, with Peter Mumby and Noel King on the injury list and top goalscorer Roddy Collins ruled out by a two match suspension, were searching for their first away win of the season.

Everyone, King included, expected Derry to be presented with the trophy at the end of the game. A full house at the Brandywell allowed their emotions to reach fever-pitch after years of being starved of senior football. Derry won the Irish League in 1965 and McLaughlin, ever mindful of history, wanted to win a league championship in two different countries. Rapid Vienna did it in Germany during Nazi rule.

In the 54th minute, ‘Dax’ Kealy scored the only goal of the game and his only goal in the Hoops. Kealy was perfectly positioned to run in and head the ball past the helpless Tim Dalton after Wayne Cooney’s shot from a Ricky McEvoy free kick had caught a deflection. His sensational winner combined with Dundalk’s 1-0 victory in Inchicore silenced the 13,000 ‘Red Army’ supporters and turned the Derry party into a wake.

Noel King was naturally delighted but he still had a soft spot for the northerners after guiding them to promotion from the First Division two years earlier. “I would be sad if this costs Derry the title. I don’t think it will – and certainly the team and the people of Derry deserve it”, added the Rovers player-boss.

Indeed, the shock defeat would only postpone the inevitable. Derry beat Cobh Ramblers in their last home game of the season thanks to a brace of goals from Paul Doolin. The Candystripes captured a unique treble of League, FAI Cup and League Cup and Rovers finished the season in seventh place.

Tuesday April 15, 1997 was another potentially decisive encounter and midfielder Paul Hegarty, a survivor of the ’89 side, had every reason to fear that lightning might strike twice at the Brandywell.

Finn Harps did their North-West rivals a favour by defeating Shelbourne 3-2 in Ballybofey which gave Derry an opportunity to triumph with three games to spare. The buzz from the 5,000 crowd, most of whom were tuned into Highland Radio, was palpable but, perversely it was Rovers who were inspired, not the home side.

They took the lead after 25 minutes when Derek Tracey chested the ball down on the left edge of the box before unleashing an unstoppable right-foot volley into the top corner for a stunning goal.

12 minutes from time Gary Beckett’s effort deflected off Pat Fenlon and slewed in slow motion past a wrong footed Robbie Horgan to spark off wild celebrations. A draw wasn’t good enough though and Derry hit Rovers with all they could muster in a nerve-jangling finale. Peter Hutton nearly won it at the death but yet again the champagne had to be kept on ice.

Felix Healy’s men went on to clinch the title with a 2-0 win over reigning champions St. Pat’s the following Saturday on Foyleside. Rovers, on the other hand, did not ensure their safety from relegation until a scoreless draw at home to UCD the previous night.

9544 MARC KENNY & PETER HUTTON (DERRY) 15 APR '97 (1-1)

Glenmalure Gazette Interview with Pat Fenlon (1991)

The new League of Ireland season kicks off in two weeks’ time and the opening day clash between Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic at Tallaght Stadium will be live on TV.

The final issue of Glenmalure Gazette, the infamous Shamrock Rovers fanzine, was published in March 1991 and it featured this interview with Hoops boss Pat Fenlon, who was a Pat’s player at the time.

Pat Fenlon GG Interview1

Pat Fenlon GG Interview2

It’s in the game

EA Sports Cup trophy1

SHAMROCK ROVERS
Shamrock Rovers play Dundalk in the 41st League Cup final at Oriel Park this evening. The two clubs will meet a staggering eight times altogether in 2014, the most games that the Hoops have played against a club in one season since 1972-73, when there were nine meetings with Athlone Town and eight with Dundalk.

Rovers have reached three successive League Cup finals for the first time in their history (facing a Louth club on each occasion) having ended a 37 year wait to lift the trophy for only the second time at Tallaght Stadium last season. Out of 20 single game League Cup finals in which one of the sides were playing in their home stadium, that team won 11 times and two of those on penalties.

Gary McCabe, Ronan Finn and Ciaran Kilduff could play in their third final, equalling the club record held by Alan O’Neill and Robbie Gaffney. This is Rovers’ 150th game in the League Cup. Their first ever match in the competition happened to be against Dundalk, when they won 4-3 at Milltown in September 1973.

DUNDALK
Dundalk won three of their four League Cup trophies in penalty shootouts. Two single game finals have been held at Oriel Park – Dundalk’s 4-0 defeat to Derry City in the 1988-89 final and their 1-1 draw with Derry City in 1989-90, the Lilywhites winning 4-1 on penalties after extra time.

This will be the first one off cup competition final to be played at Oriel Park since the 1987-88 President’s Cup final between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, which saw Steve Staunton’s one and only appearance in League of Ireland football and the Hoops triumph on spot kicks.

Dundalk have been beaten in eight of their last nine cup competition finals. They lost the 1992-93 and won the 2001-02 FAI Cup, lost in the 1994-95 League Cup, the 2011 and 2014 Setanta Cup, the 1993-94 and 1994-95 Leinster Senior Cup as well as losing in the 1995-96 and 2002-03 President’s Cup finals.

David McMillan could equal the record for most goals in one League Cup season for a Dundalk player. He is just one away from the six goals scored by Warren Patmore in the 1994-95 campaign. McMillan and Rovers winger Marty Waters are the only League of Ireland players to score in five different competitions this year.

REFEREE
Cork whistler Graham Kelly will take charge of a cup final for the first time at Oriel Park. The 36-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Pat and brother Alan by refereeing the League Cup showpiece.

Pat Kelly was the man in the middle when Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers last met in the final back in the 1986-87 season and in the first leg of the 1995-96 final between Sligo Rovers and Shelbourne at the Showgrounds. Alan Kelly officiated the first leg of the 2001-02 final between Limerick and Derry City at Jackman Park.

STEPHEN KENNY
Stephen Kenny has won the League Cup four times with Derry City in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011. Kenny has a 70% win rate in the competition – not even counting the four ties won on penalties – and went on a 17 game unbeaten run from 2004 to 2008.

The 5-0 semi-final win over Wexford Youths was his 50th game in the League Cup and when Marc Griffin opened the scoring he netted Kenny’s 100th goal. Dundalk are the fourth different team that Kenny has taken to a final. He also guided Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers to the 2004 and 2012 finals respectively but he was sacked before he had the opportunity to lead the side out.

A win today would see Kenny equal Turlough O’Connor’s record of five League Cup trophies as manager. Dermot Keely lost all three of his finals, two of them in succession with Shamrock Rovers, the other with Dundalk in their most recent appearance (1994-95).

PAT FENLON
Pat Fenlon has won the League Cup once with Bohemians in 2009. He took over as Shamrock Rovers boss on August 6th of this year. If Fenlon were to win the cup it would be the quickest delivery of a trophy at the club since Liam Tuohy’s second spell in charge in 1972; Tuohy was appointed on June 30th and won the President’s Cup on August 13th.

The last man at any club to win a trophy within two months of becoming manager was Alan Mathews, who was installed by Shelbourne on July 12th 2010 and won the Leinster Senior Cup just 21 days later.

Noel O’Mahony was the only manager to win the League Cup without getting the team to the final. O’Mahony, 18 years after losing in the final with Cork Alberts, took over from Damien Richardson at Cork City mid-way through the 1994-95 season.

The five other gaffers who only took charge of the final were all beaten – Bobby Toland in 1984-85 (Finn Harps), Eamonn Gregg in 1993-94 (Shelbourne), Jimmy Greene in 1999-00 (Athlone Town), Gareth Farrelly in 2004 (Bohemians) and Brian Laws in 2012 (Shamrock Rovers). That was Laws’ only ever game in the competition.

League Cup Winning Managers

Boring!

Tonight’s game at the presumably rain drenched UCD Bowl sees the only team in either division who have yet to draw 0-0 this season (UCD) take on the club with seven scoreless draws (Shamrock Rovers).

All of Rovers’ scoreless games have been away from home and Trevor Croly’s men have managed just ten goals on the road – the fewest in the 2013 Premier Division. If the Hoops don’t knock in a couple of goals on campus they will have recorded their lowest away tally since the 1960s.

There has been a total of 16 scoreless draws altogether so far (187 games) which is the same number as last year and 10 in the First Division (112 games). The all-time League of Ireland record is 32 in the 1977/78 season (240 games).

Five teams have had 8 scoreless draws in one season – Limerick in 1993/94 (relegated), Longford Town and UCD in 2006, Bohemians in 2007 and Cobh Ramblers in the 2007 First Division (champions). Dundalk won the 1990/91 title with seven 0-0 draws.

The Students were involved in four consecutive goalless matches in that 2006 season and the only other times that a team drew 0-0 in seven away league games in one campaign was Cobh Ramblers in 2007 and Shamrock Rovers in 1991/92 during which Noel King was sacked.

There were five seasons with no scoreless draws by any team most recently in 1968/69 (132 games). There has been at least one goal in each of UCD’s last 65 games in all competitions going back to their visit to the Brandywell in April 2012.

First Division outfit Cobh Ramblers had a run of 109 league games without a scoreless draw from April 1998 to April 2001 and that includes a promotion/relegation playoff with Bohs.

The last team to win the Premier Division without a 0-0 scoreline was Bohemians in 2002/03 and the last side to go down was Finn Harps in 2008. I suppose you could say they were ‘relegated in the right manner’.

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Thomond Throwback

An article I wrote for Hoops Scene in March 2013:

It was the end of an era for Shamrock Rovers. The ‘fifties team, Coad’s Colts, was breaking up and the Milltown club was entering a transitional period under new manager Albie Murphy. Limerick, meanwhile, were crowned League of Ireland champions putting them into European competition for the first time in their history.

The Limerick board wanted to develop an all-local team and so they brought in Ewan Fenton from Wrexham to implement their plan. Fenton, a 29-year-old Scotsman, had played for Blackpool in the famous Matthews FA Cup Final of 1953.

The directors also decided to transfer the match with Young Boys Bern to Thomond Park, providing, as it did, extra capacity and more safety for the large crowd expected. With an eye on that European Cup tie on Wednesday evening, Limerick were anxious to get the ‘feel’ of their new surroundings and applied to the LOI for permission to play their Shield game against Rovers at the same venue, on Sunday, 28 August 1960.

The North Munster branch of the I.R.F.U. asked too high a fee though and the game was switched back to Markets Field. It was rumoured that it would cost Limerick a minimum of £100 to play Rovers at Thomond – it cost only about £5 a week for the use of the Markets Field. However, the I.R.F.U. seemed to revise their fee meaning the Super Blues would, after all, get the opportunity of a run on the Thomond turf.

There was considerable interest in the game and a crowd of 5,500 turned up at the local rugby headquarters. The pitch was in perfect condition, while the newly-banked terraces gave spectators ample view of play. One concern was that there was no guard around the playing pitch and even on this occasion there was some encroachment by supporters.

This was a youthful Rovers side which included players such as Tony O’Connell, Tony Byrne and Pat Courtney, beginning his first of eleven seasons with the Hoops. Victor Cromie was donning the mantle of Liam Tuohy who had departed for Newcastle United.

O’Connell had scored a hat-trick against Transport to get Rovers’ season off to a good start and indeed it was the Tralee man who gave them a 12th minute lead in Limerick. Kevin Fitzpatrick failed to hold onto Hamilton’s shot from point blank range and O’Connell had no trouble in scoring. Wallace hit an upright for Limerick and the teams got an ovation for a thrilling first half.

Rovers got their second goal just two minutes after the interval and this time it came from a more experienced player in Tommy Hamilton. A return pass from Cromie reached Costelloe who placed Hamilton to put the ball gently out of Fitzpatrick’s reach.

Seconds from the end Hoops skipper Ronnie Nolan cleared off the line with Darcy beaten and victory saw the smooth moving Shamrock Rovers go top of the Shield table. Players and officials of both teams had the highest praise for the ground conditions and amenities at Thomond Park. “I would not mind playing on that pitch every week”, said Nolan.

The Swiss champions smashed five second half goals past Pat Skelly at a mud-spattered Thomond Park but Limerick put up a fighting display in the return leg in Bern before going down 4-2. The scorers were former Rovers player Leo O’Reilly and George Lynam with an acrobatic overhead kick.

They played four FAI Cup games at the rugby venue in the 1960s, a decade in which the Shannonsiders lost back-to-back finals to Rovers but in 1971 under the guidance of the popular Ewan Fenton, Limerick won their first ever Cup. They played Torino in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in Thomond with Rosario Rampanti scoring the only goal of the game for the Italians.

The obvious choice of Thomond Park was overlooked for Lansdowne Road when Limerick met Real Madrid in the European Cup in 1980 but it did stage a sell-out friendly with Tottenham Hotspur a year later when Glenn Hoddle scored four spectacular goals.

The redeveloped stadium has a capacity of 26,500 with in excess of 15,000 seats and Ireland had two international friendlies there in 2009, against Australia and South Africa. Limerick played Manchester City twice in friendlies in 1992 and 2012.

After 19 years top flight football has returned to Limerick. Thomond Park will host Limerick’s home fixtures this season with the glamour of Shamrock Rovers coming to town on Tuesday. Follow that, Springsteen!

LIMERICK FC 0
SHAMROCK ROVERS 2 (O’Connell 12, Hamilton 47)

Limerick: Kevin Fitzpatrick; Willie Clinton, Fergus Crawford, Joe Casey, Gerry McCarthy, Ewan Fenton, Dick O’Connor, George Lynam, Leo O’Reilly, Donie Wallace, Mick Doyle.

Rovers: Eamonn Darcy; Tommy Farrell, Pat Courtney, Ronnie Nolan, Willie Roche, Eamonn Farrell, Tony Byrne, Tommy Hamilton, Tony O’Connell, Paddy Costelloe, Victor Cromie.

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The programme from Limerick versus Shamrock Rovers on 28 August 1960

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Joe Casey and Willy Schneider in action on 31 August 1960 when Limerick lost 5-0 to Young Boys Bern from ‘End of an Era: A History of Limerick Senior Soccer at The Markets Field 1937/1984’ by Aidan Corr and Bernard Spain