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5 Irish Sporting Victories That Should Be Better Remembered Than They Are

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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St. Patrick's Day is obviously a day to focus on triumphs. St. Patrick's victory over the snakes was obviously a hard fought one but he got it done in the end. And though there were no television cameras around to capture it (as in 1974, they were in the RDS showing the showjumping that day), boy has it been remembered.

But what about the great Irish successes that deserve recognition. Here are five Irish victories that deserve more recognition from posterity.

1. 1974 Five Nations win

It used to be said that history is written by the winners. This is untrue. For in our era, history is in fact written by the producers of Reeling in the Years. And while Ginger McLoughlin's try in 1982 and Michael Kiernan's drop goal in 1985 have gotten top billing, Ireland's Five Nations title victory of 1974 was ignored altogether. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First it came unaccompanied by either a Triple Crown or a Grand Slam. Back in those corinthian amateur days, this idea of counting up points to see where you finished on the table was considered unbearably pedantic. As Nigel Owens likes to say, 'this is rugby, not soccer'.

And secondly, it came about when Ireland were on a by-week. Wales were expected to beat England in Twickenham in the final match, but the English won 16-12 partly thanks to a controversial disallowed try by Dublin referee John West.

Read more about it here.


2. The League of Ireland beating the Football League in 1963

One of the most astonishing results in Irish football history. A team managed by Alf Ramsey and containing four future World Cup winners were beaten 2-1 by a team drawn from the League of Ireland in Dalymount Park.

Three years before Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Ray Wilson and Roger Hunt were part of the staring line-up which beat Germany 4-2 in Wembley, they were humbled by a team of players drawn from Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, Shelbourne, Drumcondra, St. Patrick's Athletic and Waterford United.


The heroes on the night were dazzling winger and future Bohs chairman Tony O'Connell who tormented Jimmy Armfield all evening, goalkeeper Eamon 'Sheila' Darcy who saved a penalty and Ronnie Whelan Senior, who struck the winning

goal eleven minutes from team.

Read more about it here.

3. Ireland's cool dismantling of Bulgaria in 1987


There was a programme on RTE a few years ago called The Sports Files

, which they used to bang on a Saturday evening after the live sport had been on but before it was time to show the big movie.

One evening they showed they showed Ireland's 2-0 win

over table toppers Bulgaria. In a country that fixates on 1-1 draws, it was a revelation. It was a dreary day, the Lansdowne Road pitch was still decorated with rugby markings and there were big chunks of concrete visible on the terraces.

People were deterred by the belief that Ireland's chances of qualification were long gone. In the event, 26,000 people saw Liam Brady, then with Ascoli, deliver a sensational performance in midfield as McGrath and Moran grabbed two second half goals.


Unfortunately, Brady was sent off in the last couple of minutes for tussling with a Bulgarian midfielder. Of course, most people believed it was all for nothing but then Gary Mackay intervened.

History, however, hasn't remembered it well compared to other Irish qualification victories.

4. Bohemians 3 - 2 Rangers 


The Rangers fans tore up Dalymount Park after their 3-2 UEFA Cup loss to Bohemians in 1984. While Rangers went on to win

the tie 4-3 with a 2-0 win
in Ibrox, at a time when the League of Ireland was really, really struggling, it was still quite a result for the Bohs.

A youthful Ally McCoist scored for Rangers before Gino Lawless hit a dramatic winner in injury time. Of course, beating Rangers nowadays would be nothing to get too excited about.

5. No, it wasn't Hungary

Not so much forgotten in Ireland. I'm thinking of another nation. One in Britain. That isn't Scotland or Wales. English football historians remain absolutely determined to believe that Hungary were the first foreign nation to beat England at home. They prefer the idea of Hungary being the first. They had Puskas and a host of other dazzling players and were a football powerhouse at the time. As the Hungarians played an innovative and then unfamiliar brand of football, the idea that they were the first nation to defeat England at home fits a grand narrative.

However, as we know, it isn't true. Ireland were the first to do it back in 1949. Con Martin and Peter Farrell were the goalscorers as Ireland won 2-0 at Goodison Park.

Part of the reason, the English tend to forget that Ireland were first non-British team to beat England at home (in addition to the ones listed above) is because they didn't think of us as properly non-British.



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