It was 20 years ago Today! 1991 League Champions!
Where were you 20 years ago today? The 21st April 1991 will live long in the memory of Dundalk supporters who made the trip to Turner’s Cross on the last day of the season. Dundalkfc.com looks back at an incredible season with videos and photos from Dundalk’s eighth league title winning season.
Dundalk’s 1990-91 season got off to an horrific start. Paul Newe scored four goals on his return to Oriel Park following his surprise move to Shelbourne to inflict a 5-1 defeat on Turlough O’Connor’s men. However, Dundalk soon settled into the season. Peter Hanrahan scored the winner in St Mel’s Park against Athlone before Bohemians were dismantled 4-1 at Oriel Park.
Many people didn’t believe that Dundalk could sustain their challenge after the departure of striker Tony Cousins to Liverpool following a 4-0 in Limerick. Cousins signed off his Dundalk career with two goals. Dundalk were listless for the next two games – a 0-0 home draw with Waterford and a 2-0 defeat in Sligo. The turning point came on Sunday October 14th when champions St Patrick’s Athletic came to town. O’Connor moved Peter Hanrahan from his midfield position upfront alongside Terry Eviston. In a cracking match Hanrahan scored twice in a 3-0 victory with full-back Dave Mackey also getting on the scoresheet with a fine free-kick.
Tom McNulty scored this goal on October 21st to help Dundalk record a 1-0 win over Derry City at the Brandywell.
By mid November Dundalk had recovered to within a point of league leaders Cork City. Back to back games with the league leaders ended in two draws with John Butler rescuing a late point in Turner’s Cross after an earlier Eviston effort had given Dundalk the lead.
Dundalk’s fine form continued up to Christmas. Revenge was achieved at Tolka Park when two tremendous Tom McNulty goals gave Dundalk a 2-1 win over Shelbourne. On December 9th, Dundalk defeated Bohemians 2-0 at Dalymount Park with goals from Dave Mackey and this effort from Terry Eviston.
Over Christmas and the New Year Dundalk lost at home to Sligo Rovers and were held by Shamrock Rovers. However, wins over Derry City, Athlone, Limerick and Bohs kept Dundalk within two points of Cork City.
A big crowd witnessed Dundalk defeat Shelbourne 2-0 at Oriel Park thanks to these two goals by Peter Hanrahan.
After a 0-0 draw with fellow title-challengers St Pats, Dundalk finally reached the top spot after a 3-0 win in Limerick and a 1-0 win over Waterford in Oriel Park.
Unfortunately, Dundalk were hit by one of their worst cup upsets when beaten by Sean Murphy’s 89th minute winner for Ashtownvilla at Oriel Park. Dundalk then fell behind Cork City after two successive scoreless draws with Sligo and St Patrick’s Athletic. Dundalk fans may remember a friendly with the Finland international side at Oriel Park around this time!
Thankfully, Peter Hanrahan ended the bad spell with the winner in the Brandywell on April 1st. This was followed by a superb win in the RDS over Shamrock Rovers thanks to goals from Tom McNulty and Ronnie Murphy. On the 18th April, Cork were held to a 0-0 draw by Shamrock Rovers at Turner’s Cross. Dundalk recorded a 2-0 win (another two goals from Hanrahan to bring him up to 18 for the season) over Galway United to set up the final day decider.
Turner’s Cross was a 10,000 capacity crowd. Dundalk had a better goal difference going into the game but it had previously been decided that in the event of a tie a two-legged play-off would decide the title. The game was not pretty – but Tom McNulty’s 73rd minute winner settled the tie.
Speaking after the match, Turlough O’Connor said: “I’m glad we proved a lot of people wrong who had written us off during the campaign. We always felt that the title was there for the taking and it would go down to the last match of the season.”
The Dundalk FC Magazine will be featuring a special edition on the 1991 success next month and we hope to bring as many of the team down to Oriel Park for a reunion. In the meantime, if you have any memories of that season or the trip to Cork we would like to include it in our tribute issue.
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