Dundalk’s Irish Internationals
This article looks back at players who were capped for Ireland during their time as Dundalk players. That’s why there is no Stephen Staunton…okay?!
1. Robert Egan
Robert Egan was the first player to represent his country while playing for Dundalk Football Club. He was signed for Dundalk in 1929 and lined up for Ireland against Belgium on April 20th 1929 at Dalymount Park. John Joe Flood was the hero for Ireland as they won 4-0.
2. Joey Donnelly
The greatest Dundalk player of them all made his debut for Ireland on the 16th December 1934 in a friendly against Hungary at Dalymount Park. Hungary had already beaten England earlier in the year and were strong favourites. Ireland produced an excellent display and were the strongest team in the closing stages until an injury to Moore tipped the balance in the favour of the visitors. With the score at 2-2 Ireland looked set to win the match but two goals in the last seven minutes gave the win to the visitors. Joey Donnelly was lauded as one of Ireland’s star performers. Playing in the inside-right position – he provided most of Ireland’s creativity. Donnelly also scored the best goal of the match just before half-time. Ireland were, at this stage, two goals behind. Donnelly and Moore combined to hit the visitors on the break and sent Fallon away on the left. His cross was met by Donnelly on the edge of the box and shot past Hada with a low shot. Despite an equaliser just before half-time – Hungary went on to win the match. The Irish team that day was:
Foley (Glasgow Celtic), Gaskins (S Rovers), Bermingham, Lennon, Rigby (St James’ Gate), P O’Kane , A Horlacher(Bohs), Griffith (Walsall), Donnelly (Dundalk), Moore (Aberdeen), Fallon (Notts Co).
Donnelly then played in a 1-0 defeat away to Switzerland on 5th May 1935. Three days later, and Ireland visited Dortmund to play Germany in another friendly. In front of 35,000 people, Ireland took the lead through Dunne. Despite a wonderful display by Foley in the Irish goal – Germany hit back to win the match 3-1.
3. Billy O’Neill
On 8th December 1935, Dundalk FC had the honour of having two of their players in the international side. Billy O’Neill joined Joey Donnelly in the line-up on six occasions between 1935-1936. O’Neill’s debut came in a 5-3 home defeat by Holland in December 1935. They then both starred as Ireland defeated Switzerland 1-0 on St Patrick’s Day 1936 and a superb 3-3 draw in Budapest against the Hungarians on May 3rd. Joey Donnelly was on the score-sheet as Ireland crushed Luxembourg 5-1 six days later. However, it was the game played on 7th October 1936 that remains one of the great Irish international performances when Germany made their first visit to Dublin.
28,000 people attended the match at Dalymount Park including 500 visiting supporters who came over on a specially chartered flight. Ireland ran out 5-2 winners in a thrilling game. There was extraordinary scenes before kick-off when the German team lined up and gave the Nazi salute. They were joined by the 500 German fans and officials who all stood rigidly to attention with their right arms outstretched while the Irish Army Band played the Nazi Anthem. After the match, hundreds of Irish fans ran across the pitch to face the German visitors and also performed the Nazi salute in a gesture of sportsmanship!
Joey Donnelly was not among the selection committee’s picks for the game originally but was called up to replace the injured Duggan. Ireland took the lead after 23 minutes when Geoghegan crossed for Donnelly to shoot hard and low past the keeper. The cheering had not subsided when the German’s attacked from the kick-off and Kobienski beat Foley with a fine shot. Germany then took the lead when Szepan scored. Ireland managed to draw level just before the break when Davis scored from a penalty.
Ireland resumed the lead after 59 minutes when Moore made the opening for Ellis to cross for Geoghegan to score. This rattled the Germans and soon the Irish were running rampant. Donnelly added a second when he was played in by Ellis. Davis wrapped up the win with Ireland’s fifth goal after 76 minutes.
The report from the Irish Times stated that Willie O’Neill was “as steady as boulders” while Donnelly was mentioned as a possible man of the match. Incidentally, both O’Neill and Donnelly were back playing for Dundalk just 24 hours later at the Athletic’s Ground in a 1-1 draw with Sligo Rovers!
The Irish team was: Foley (G Celtic), O’Neill (Dundalk), Gorman (Bury), O’Reilly (St James’ Gate), Turner (Southend), Connolly (Cork), Ellis (Bohs), Donnelly (Dundalk), Davis (Oldham), Moore (Shamrock R), Geoghegan (St James Gate).
Donnelly and O’Neill played again in the 3-2 defeat to Hungary in December 1936. O’Neill kept his place in the first two games of 1937 against Switzerland (another 1-0 win in Geneva) and a 0-0 draw in Paris against France.
4. Mick Hoy
There is a lot of controversy today about players from the North being selected by the Republic of Ireland. It was very rare for the Southern FA to select players from the North but they made a rare exception when Mick Hoy was picked for the World Cup Qualifier in Norway in October 1937. Hoy, a left-full, was signed from Glenavon at the start of the 1937/38 campaign and soon caught they eye of the Irish selectors. Hoy, Donnelly and O’Neill were selected for the trip but O’Neill was withdrawn from the squad due to injury. Ireland were beaten 3-2 in the match played in Oslo.
Billy O’Neill was in the starting line-up for the return match with Norway in September 1938 in a game that finished 3-3.
5. Dicky Lunn
Dicky Lunn was the next Dundalk player to earn a call up to the national team. He had signed for Dundalk in October 1937. He made his debut in a 4-0 friendly victory over Switzerland on 18th September 1938 alongside Mick Hoy. Both Lunn and Hoy were also in the line up in the 3-2 win over Poland in November 1938.
In 1939, Mick Hoy played in a 2-2 draw against Hungary in Dublin. Billy O’Neill then joined Hoy in team in a 2-1 defeat in Hungary on 19th May 1939 and then went to Bremen to face the Germans. While there was much uncertainty about events in Germany when they visited Dublin in 1936 – by May 1939 it was widely accepted that Europe was on the verge of War. In the week of the game the newspapers were reporting that a large number of Jews in Munich had been told to leave the country by the end of the month or be sent to the Dachau Concentration Camp. However, this was an era when there was an absolute division between sport and politics and there was little suggestion that Ireland would boycott the fixture.
The match attracted a record 35,000 people to the Wesser Stadium. Germany took the lead after 39 minutes when Schoen scored. An injury to Dunne meant that Ireland were forced to play most of the match with just ten men. With 15 minutes remaining Fallon crossed for Bradshaw to head a splendid equaliser. Ireland dominated the closing stages but could not force a winner.
The Ireland team that day was: Mackenzie (Southend), O’Neill & Hoy (Dundalk), O’Reilly (St James Gate), O’Mahony (Bristol Rovers), Weir (Clyde), O’Flanagan (Bohemians), Dunne (Shamrock R), Bradshaw (St James Gate), Carey (Man Utd), Fallon (Sheff Wed).
6. Terry Murray
Due to World War II, the next time a Dundalk player represented his country was in 1950 when Terry Murray played in a 5-1 defeat in Belgium. This match represented the first time Ireland had ever played under floodlights in the new Century Stadium in Brussels. Ireland were taught a lesson.
7. Tony O’Connell
It took another 16 years before another Dundalk player was selected for Ireland. Ireland took on Spain on October 23rd 1966 at Dalymount Park. Tony O’Connell was called upon as Ireland hoped to get off to a good start in their quest to qualify for the 1968 European Nations Cup against the side that prevented them from qualifying for the 196 World Cup. The match was a violent encounter with the Swedish referee having constantly stop the match following fouls and fights that broke out across the pitch. With Giles and Conway pulling the strings in midfield – Ireland should have won this match. However, Ray Treacy up front had a bad day and squandered numerous opportunities. O’Connell had a hard game also and was on the receiving end of numerous bad tackles from the Spanish full back. The match finished 0-0. The Irish team that day was:
Kelly(Preston), Brennan, Dunne, Cantwell (Man Utd), Conway (Fulham), Meagan (Huddersfield), O’Neill (S Rovers), McEvoy (Blackburn), Treacy (WBA), Giles (Leeds), O’Connell (Dundalk).
Tony O’Connell would earn a further cap in 1970 while a Bohs player.
8 & 9. Tommy McConville & Turlough O’Connor
Tommy McConville won six caps for the Republic of Ireland but just one of them was obtained while a Dundalk player. Turlough O’Connor won eight caps between 1967-1973. Five of these caps were earned as a Dundalk player with the others earned at Fulham and Bohs.
Both McConville and O’Connor were in the line-up when Ireland suffered an horrendous defeat in Vienna on October 10th 1971. Austria slaughtered the Irish team 6-0 in a European Championship qualifier.
Turlough O’Connor, while still a Dundalk player, then travelled with Ireland to the end of season Brazil Independence Cup held in June 1972. This was a mini-World Cup tournament held in the city of Recife, Brazil. Ireland opened up against Iran and came from behind to win 2-1. Mick Leech and Don Givens scored the goals that gave Ireland a good start to the competition. Turlough O’Connor made an appearance as a sub.
The match had began on a strange note when the band scheduled to play the national anthems was involved in a bus crash. When the band eventually walked to the stadium they realised that they only had the sheet music for “God Save the Queen”!
O’Connor was again a sub in Ireland’s next match against Ecuador seven days later. Eamon Rogers gave Ireland an early lead before Coronel levelled after 35 minutes. Mick Martin put Ireland back in the lead but again Ecuador struck back. Miah Dennehy scored a late winner for Ireland although in a Robbie Keane v Noel Hunt style moment Turlough O’Connor also claimed it!
The next match was one in which Turlough would like to forget as he was sent off in a 2-1 defeat against Chile. Finally, Ireland lost 2-1 with Portugal on June 25th in their final game. O’Connor again won another cap as a substitute.
10. Synan Braddish
There was a lot of surprise when Ireland manager John Giles called up teenager Synan Braddish for a friendly with Turkey at Lansdowne Road on April 5th 1978. Braddish was introduced for Gerry Daly after 67 minutes. Ireland ran out 4-2 winners. Braddish was also in the line-up for a 3-0 defeat in Poland seven days later.
11. Mick Fairclough
Mick Fairclough became the last player to represent Ireland while playing for Dundalk when he made two substitute appearances for Ireland on their end of season tour of South America. Fairclough made appearances in the 1-0 defeat by Chile and the 2-1 defeat by Trinidad and Tabago. Mick was, however, lucky to escape any involvement in the 7-0 mauling by Brazil.