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


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)


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

The Byrne Supremacy III


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

Premier Division – 208
First Division – 7
Playoff – 2

First half – 98
Second half – 119

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

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 – 137
Away – 80

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

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

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)

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)

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)

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 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 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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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.


“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.


Up for the Cup: 2015

Firhouse Clover are one of a dozen non-league clubs competing in the second round of the FAI Cup this week. Firhouse will face Bohemians at Dalymount Park and a veteran striker who has been merciless in front of goal against underdogs in his career.

Jason Byrne has scored a brace in each of his last four Cup games against non-league teams – Wayside Celtic, Drogheda Town, Mayfield United and Glenville – all for Bohs and he was a substitute in two of those.

Four non-league clubs have reached the quarter-finals since the switch to summer football – Rockmount (2004), Killester United (2006), Wayside Celtic (2008) and Avondale United (2014). No non-league team has reached the FAI Cup semi-finals since St Francis went all the way to the final in 1990.

Out of 8 ties last season between League and non-league clubs, only Avondale took it to a replay, against Finn Harps. Bluebell United knocked out Athlone Town in 2013.

Aside from Killester’s walkover against Dublin City, Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers were the last Premier Division clubs to be knocked out of the Cup by non-league teams.

They lost to Bangor Celtic and Bluebell United and they were both relegated that 1999-00 season. Drumcondra have more wins as a non-league club over League teams than anyone else (6) while Dundalk have suffered more than any other League side (6).

Dundalk were drawn at home to Shelbourne, of the First Division, but interestingly they are the only reigning League of Ireland champions to have ever lost to a non-league team in the FAI Cup (Cobh Ramblers in 1983).

With Shels getting the toughest possible tie, it’s likely that Athlone and Shelbourne will avoid each other for the 40th successive year.

Athlone welcome Liffey Wanderers to Lissywollen, hoping to put an end to their dreadful FAI Cup and League Cup record in recent years – in their last 12 ties the Town have been eliminated in all of them.

Shamrock Rovers travel to St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday, the only non-league side to knock Rovers out of the Cup. In the 1949 first round replay, the Saints sensationally beat the holders 2-1 at Milltown.

Ironically, the goals were scored by former Rovers players Podge Cregg and Bobby Rogers, whose registrations had been retained by the Rovers owners the Cunninghams to prevent them from playing for another League of Ireland club.

St Pat’s are 27-0 against non-league teams (including 2 games while in the Leinster Senior League), twice being taken to a replay, while Cork City, UCD and Wexford Youths are also unbeaten against clubs outside the LOI.

Rovers are looking to extend their 21 game unbeaten streak since losing the 2014 FAI Cup semi-final replay, their longest run since 1957. The 24-time winners last lifted the trophy way back in 1987.

To put that into perspective, there is no other country in Europe in which the team with the most national cup wins in its history have been knocked out in each of the last 28 seasons.

Marseille and Malmö (under Roy Hodgson) have not won the Cup in France and Sweden respectively since 1989. Red Boys Differdange won their 15th and last Luxembourg Cup in 1985 but in 2003 they merged with AS Differdange to become FC Differdange.

They captured the trophy in 2010 and 2011. Wrexham, 23 time winners of the Welsh Cup, have not participated in the competition since their 1995 victory with the exception of the 2011/12 season.

26 out of 54 UEFA members’ record cup winners currently have possession of the trophy and only one other nation’s ‘cup specialists’ have not won it since the turn of the century – AGF, a Danish First Division side (1996). Juventus last week won their first Coppa Italia in 20 years.

Odds BK, who have never won a league title, had 11 Cups to their name by the early 1930s but remarkably they waited 69 years for the next one. They had been relegated in 1967 and did not return to the Norwegian Premier League until 1999.

‘Odd’, with Ronny Deila in their side, won it the following season and were runners-up in 2002 and 2014. Manchester United, joint record FA Cup winners with Arsenal (for now), didn’t win it for 28 seasons from 1909 to 1948, through two World Wars.

Arsenal, formerly named Royal Arsenal and Woolwich Arsenal, failed to lift the trophy in their first 36 attempts until 1930. Arsenal and United were in the Football League First Division for 19 of those seasons whereas Shamrock Rovers have played top flight football in all but one of the 28 seasons.

Until Pat’s ended their 53 year famine, they had been on one of the worst Cup final losing streaks in European history by getting beaten in each of the last 7. USV Eschen/Mauren lost 11 in a row in Liechtenstein until they won it in 2012.

Hibs are on a run of 10 defeats since 1902, the last two of which Pat Fenlon was manager. Icelandic club ÍA lost 8 finals in succession until 2003, AaB in Denmark lost 7 straight until 2014 while FC Balzers, another Liechtenstein club, have lost all 7 finals they have appeared in since their last triumph in 1997.

Only 2 Pats FAI Cup winning captains

The only two St Pat’s FAI Cup winning captains, Ger O’Brien and Tommy Dunne, who passed away earlier this month