FAI History Chapter 9 – Ireland impress at Dalymount
England's dramatic late equalising goal at Dalymount Park meant elimination from the World Cup of 1958 for the Republic of Ireland but the excitement and spectacle of what had been a great occasion out-lasted the sense of anti-climax.The FAI responded to the mood of the day by enthusiastically embracing the concept of a new international tournament when, in the Summer of 1958, the decision was finally taken by UEFA to inaugurate the UEFA Championship.The competition was run on a straight knock-out basis in its first year and it was Ireland's misfortune to be drawn against Czechoslovakia in the only tie in a preliminary round.The game should have launched the competition but was subject to delays and when the first leg was played for April 5, 1959, several first round matches had been played.Ireland had recovered well after their disappointing experience against England. They had defeated Denmark 2-0 with goals from George Cummins and Dermot Curtis in Copenhagen in their final World Cup match, had drawn 2-2 with Poland home and away and lost 1-3 to Austria in Vienna in friendly matches.The match against Czechoslovakia in Dublin was won 2-0 in marvellous style. Liam Tuohy, a man who would go on to have a major influence on the continued development of the game in Ireland, headed home Ireland's first goal and Noel Cantwell converted a penalty.A month later Ireland travelled to Bratislava for the return leg and returned a chastened team after a 4-0 defeat. The difficulty Ireland experienced in replicating the form they showed at home when put to the test away from headquarters is one that continued to plague the team.This frailty was the undoing yet again of Ireland's prospects in the World Cup of 1962 when Ireland were drawn with Scotland and Czechoslovakia in the preliminary round. Ireland enjoyed mixed success in a series of friendly matches before the kick-off of the competition in 1961.Sweden had given Brazil a spirited challenge in the World Cup final of 1958 in Sweden and they were attractive visitors to Dalymount Park in November 1959. And Sweden had given further evidence of their strength on their way to Dublin by beating England 3-2.The game was notable for the introduction to international football of yet another youngster who would develop into one of the most influential individuals in the on-going advancement of football in Ireland.John Giles was still six days short of his 19th birthday and had played his first game for Manchester United's league team just two months previously when chosen at inside-right.Goalkeeper Noel Dwyer was another making his debut for Ireland that day and when Sweden raced into a two-goals lead within 12 minutes a heavy defeat for Ireland looked likely.It was Giles who shattered this possibility when he crashed home a volley from 30 yards that fired the enthusiasm of the 40,000 spectators and his team-mates alike.Ireland roared back at Sweden with Charlie Hurley once again a dominant figure in the heart of the defence and Ireland were level when Dermot Curtis headed in a cross from Joe Haverty with only 24 minutes elapsed. Curtis then capped a splendid Irish performance with a winning goal early in the second half.Ireland defeated Chile 2-0 on their first visit to Dalymount on March 30, 1960 and achieved a magnificent result in Dusseldorf on May 11, 1960 when they defeated West Germany 1-0.Fionan Fagan scored Ireland's goal after 30 minutes but the victory came at some cost for goalkeeper Noel Dwyer sustained an arm injury that made him doubtful for the second match of that brief tour, the return against Sweden seven days later.The decision to play Dwyer against Sweden was taken but it was obvious within a short time that his movement was restricted by his injury and he was replaced at half-time by Maurice Swan. By then Sweden were 3-0 ahead and they went on to win 4-1 with Ireland's goal coming from a penalty that was converted by Fionan Fagan.Next up for Ireland was a match against Wales at Dalymount Park on September 28, 1960 and Ireland went into the game enjoying an eight-game unbeaten streak at headquarters. Ireland introduced three new internationals in Phil Kelly, John ‘Sonny' O'Neill and Peter Fitzgerald and were soundly beaten 3-2.The visit of Norway on November 6, 1960, offered Ireland an opportunity to restore confidence in the lead-up to the World Cup ties and against a predominantly amateur team, Ireland played well. They had goals from Peter Fitzgerald (2) and Fagan as they scored a 3-1 success.
8th Apr 2011