FAI History Chapter 15 - Liam Tuohy prepares for 1974 World Cup
Liam Tuohy was appointed manager of the Republic of Ireland International team in succession to Mick Meagan in time to take charge for Ireland's final match in the European Championship of 1972 qualifying series.
Tuohy had enjoyed a successful career as a skilful left-winger with Shamrock Rovers. He played in England with Newcastle United and returned to finish his playing career with Rovers before taking over the club as manager/coach.
His appointment as manager of Ireland led to suggestions that the English-based professionals wanted a manager based in England, speculation that seemed to be confirmed when Tuohy took Ireland to Linz, Austria, for their final game in the European Championship on October 10, 1971.
Paddy Mulligan, then with Chelsea, was the only full-time professional in the team after a succession of players had declared themselves unavailable for an assortment of reasons. Ten of the team were drawn from the League of Ireland clubs.
First international appearances were made by Paddy Roche, Mick Gannon, Tommy McConville, John Herrick, Mick Kearin, Mick Martin and Damien Richardson while Frank O'Neill won the last of his 20 caps.
Al Finucane, Mick Leech, Turlough O'Connor and Alfie Hale also played on the day as Austria scored a comprehensive 6-0 win.
Inevitably the result led to further negative publicity in the popular press but there were others who posed the question as to whether such a heavy defeat for a team of part-time players away from home was more damning than a 4-1 home defeat for a team of English-based professionals by the same opponents.
The FAI and Liam Tuohy had to power on in the face of such controversy and they accepted an invitation to travel to South America for a first time to take part in a tournament for the Brazilian Independence Cup in June, 1972. Ireland were in a group with Chile, Ecuador, Portugal and Iran.
Mercifully, Ireland brought an unhappy sequence of 19 matches without a win to an end by defeating Iran in Recife. Ireland trailed 0-1 at the interval and hit back with goals from Mick Leech and Don Givens.
The glow that emanated from the sense of fulfilment was like the dawning of a glorious new day after an extended period of darkness and Ireland eagerly overcame Ecuador 3-2 next time out in Natal with goals from Eamonn Rogers, Mick Martin and Turlough O'Connor.
Ireland lost their remaining two games, 2-1 on each occasion, to Chile and Portugal, but the squad returned with a genuine sense of achievement and the belief that now, finally, the seeds of recovery had been sown.
The draw for the 1974 World Cup qualifying series presented a substantial challenge to Ireland's burgeoning confidence. They were drawn in the same group as the Soviet Union - for the first time - and France and again only one team would advance.
The Soviet Union travelled to Dublin for the opening tie on October 18, 1972, at Lansdowne Road and, unfortunately, the game followed a familiar pattern. The visitors took control with two goals early in the second half that were proof against Ireland's late reply from Terry Conroy.
It was now six years since Ireland last won a match at home. France travelled to Dublin a month after the Soviet Union game and the Irish, searching desperately for encouraging omens, identified as a positive sign the fact that the match was set for Dalymount Park.
Happily it proved to be so as Ireland thrilled an attendance of 30,000 fans with a battling 2-1 victory with goals from Terry Conroy and Ray Treacy.
The win did much to restore Ireland's pride and ambition and it was with a new sense of purpose that Ireland prepared for the return against the Soviet Union in Moscow on May 13, 1973.
The match was played at the 1980 Olympic Games headquarters, the Lenin Stadium, before 70,000 spectators. And Ireland proved doughty opponents for the highly-rated Soviets who included such redoubtable players as Khurtsilava, Lovchev, Muntyan, Kuznetsov, Andreasen, Onischenko and Oleg Blokhin. The Soviets won with a goal after 58 minutes.
Ireland had every reason to take encouragement from this performance but there was further consternation when Liam Tuohy announced that he would resign after the final qualifying match against France in Paris on May 19, 1973. His workload was just too much for his position with Ireland was a part-time one and he was also manager of Shamrock Rovers and working in Dublin as a sales executive.
Ireland squeezed in another friendly against Poland on May 16, 1973, in Wroclaw before France. The 2-0 defeat was a set-back at the time but was viewed with less frustration when this Poland team that included such as Szymanowski, Musial, Gadocha and the talented Lubanski went on to light up the World Cup finals in Germany twelve months afterwards.
Three days after this defeat, Ireland showed the benefits of their recent revival and the opportunity of preparing together for a week by holding France to a 1-1 draw in Paris. France scored eleven minutes from full-time but Ireland refused to accept defeat and Mick Martin equalised five minutes later after Miah Dennehy had struck the crossbar.
Sean Thomas, successful manager of Bohemians in the League of Ireland, took over as caretaker manager and he presided over a 1-1 draw with Norway in Oslo in a friendly on June 6, 1973. And the FAI followed a predictable line when they filled the manager's position by appointing John Giles, who was the senior player in the international squad.
Giles first game in charge was a friendly against familiar opponents in Poland, who faced Ireland at Dalymount Park four days after holding England at Wembley to a 1-1 draw.
Ireland included new internationals in Peter Thomas (Waterford) and Terry Mancini (QPR) and played with formidable determination to score a marvellous 1-0 win at Dalymount Park. Miah Dennehy, a substitute replacement for Terry Conroy, headed the goal in the 31st minute.
Giles led Ireland to South America again in the Summer of 1974 when they played high-class opposition in Brazil, Uruguay and Chile and the sense that a new and successful era was about to unfold was established.