Dalymount Mayhem: Ireland v Italy, 1985
Despite their failure to qualify for EURO 1984 in France, the Italians were still a huge draw for the Irish soccer public. Due to the demands of Italian TV the match was played at floodlit Dalymount Park. It was a long time before
UEFA Licensing and so 40,000 people crammed into Dalymount. The game kicked off 15 minutes late due to overcrowding at the North Circular gate. Stewarding was virtually non-existant and Gardai claimed that they had no choice but to just open up one entrance gate in order to avoid a crush. This inevitably caused a further crush in the stand and hundreds of supporters were forced to sit on any free space they could find along the side of the pitch.
Further to overcrowding problems, a stilesman was attacked and £1500 of gate money stolen. If that was not enough to keep the Gardai present busy both sets of teams had to force their way through supporters to get to the dressing rooms at half-time. In the second half, the match was delayed further when protestors invaded the pitch with a large “brutality in Portlaoise” banner.
Italian TV were also unhappy. As the match was live on Italian TV (but not Irish TV which further contributed to demand for tickets) most of the advertising hoarding was directed at the Italian market but was obscured by spectators..
The match itself was, despite it all, an entertaining affair. It started disastrously for Ireland. After just five minutes, Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson tripped Alessandro Altobelli inside the box. Not only was a penalty awarded but Lawrenson broke his collar bone in the incident and was rushed to hospital (he later revealed he woke up alone in hospital with nothing but his Ireland socks and shorts!). Juventus striker Paulo Rossi converted the penalty past Packie Bonner. Bruno Conti, the man outfoxed by Bruce Grobbelaar’s spaghetti legs in the previous year’s European Cup final, set up Altobelli for Italy’s second goal after 18 minutes. Ireland fought back bravely. Franco Tancredi was forced to make a great save from a long range Chris Hughton effort and the keeper soon denied Frank Stapelton. Ronnie Whelan was unfortunate to see his effort cleared off the line.
Ireland finally made the breakthrough after 53 minutes. Stapleton supplied Queen’s Park Rangers midfielder Gary Waddock outside the box and he swept home a beautiful shot past Tancredi from 20 yards. This set up a frantic final half-hour when Tancredi saved brilliantly from a Liam Brady free kick. Kevin Sheedy also had strong claims for a penalty rejected after a tackle by new Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli. Italy held on for a 2-1 win.
Ireland: Bonner, Hughton, McCarthy, Lawrenson, Beglin, Waddock, Brady, Sheedy, Stapleton, Byrne, Galvin. Subs McGrath for Lawrenson. Campbell for Byrne.
Italy: Tancredi, Bergomi, Vierchovod, Scirea, Cabrini, Bagni, Tardelli, De Gennero, Conti, Rossi, Altobelli. Subs: Serena for Conti