FAI History, Chapter 3 - Paddy Moore's record
Friendly matches were engaged with the international teams of Spain, Holland, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
The World Cup also became a fact of Irish life in 1934 and while Ireland had to wait until Italia '90 to make a debut appearance at the final tournament, they were not as slow in posting record achievements.
The 1930s marked the emergence of a remarkable goal-scoring centre-forward in Paddy Moore, whose special talent helped etch Ireland's name into World Cup history.
Ireland's first involvement in the competition meant a game against Belgium, opponents who were well-known to the Irish and well-regarded after a series of three friendly matches in Liege, Dublin and Brussels in 1928, 1929 and 1930.
Ireland had won all three matches and had a goals aggregate of 11-3 in their favour so it was with confidence that Belgium were faced at Dalymount Park on February 25, 1934, in that historic first World Cup qualifying tie.
The team that represented Ireland on that day was: Jim Foley (Cork); Miah Lynch (Cork Bohemians), Tom Burke (Cork), Peadar Gaskins (Shamrock Rovers) capt., Joe O'Reilly (Aberdeen), Joe Kendrick (Dolphin), Billy Kennedy (St. James' Gate), David Byrne (Coleraine), Paddy Moore (Aberdeen), Tim O'Keeffe (Cork), Jimmy Kelly (Derry City).
Belgium surprised Ireland, however, and avoided defeat for the first time in four matches. They scored four goals at Dalymount Park but Paddy Moore saw to it that four was not enough to win the match.
Belgium streaked into a 2-0 lead within 26 minutes of the start. Moore soon cut the deficit to one but Belgium struck again to open out a 3-1 lead.
Moore scored the two goals that brought Ireland level but when Belgium went 4-3 in front after 63 minutes, Ireland looked doomed. Yet the 28,000 fans were lifted again as Moore completed an extraordinary personal performance by heading another equaliser fifteen minutes before the final whistle.
It was the first time in history that an individual player scored four goals in a World Cup qualifying tie and fitting that the diminutive and gifted Paddy Moore should be responsible.
His senior career spanned just six years but like a shooting star flashing across the firmament he enhanced the game with his brilliant skills and adorned it with spectacular goals.
Paddy Moore was born in Dublin, stood just 5ft 6ins tall and played with Shamrock Rovers, Cardiff City and Aberdeen. He earned his introduction to international football on foot of his goal-scoring exploits for Shamrock Rovers alongside John Joe Flood and David Byrne and in one season alone he scored 48 goals.
His performance for Ireland on his debut at 21 years of age against Spain in the Montjuich Stadium on April 26, 1931, in Barcelona earned him a contract with Aberdeen.
The Stadium would be the venue for the Olympic Games of 1992 and be the home of Espanyol in Spain's premier division. On this occasion it marked a real achievement for Ireland for they drew 1-1 with Spain.
Moore spent three seasons at Aberdeen alongside fellow Irish internationals in Joe O'Reilly and Jimmy Daly who were also signed on the back of their performances against Spain. Moore scored six times in one match when Aberdeen beat Falkirk 7-0 and in his first season he scored 27 times in 29 League matches.
His heroics for Ireland against Belgium did not help Ireland advance in the World Cup, however. They were drawn in a three-team group and despite the fact that two of the three would advance, Ireland failed to make it.
Their second match was against Holland in Amsterdam on April 8, 1934, and while Ireland had won there two years previously, they were out-scored on this occasion.
Ireland led 2-1 when Moore scored his seventh international goal in his fourth match for Ireland but the Irish were over-run in the closing quarter and were defeated 2-5.
Ireland had not played an international match between May 8th, 1932, when they beat Holland 2-0 in a friendly in Amsterdam until they played Belgium in the World Cup tie on February 25, 1934, and perhaps the long break did not help their prospects. Either way, their losing debut set an unfortunate trend.
The qualifying campaign for the 1938 World Cup also lasted just two matches. Ireland were drawn to play Norway with the winners over two legs advancing and it was with a measure of confidence that Ireland approached the first game in Oslo on October 10, 1937.
Ireland were quickly made aware of the strength of Norway, however, as they raced into the lead after 30 frantic minutes during which Ireland struggled to survive. But then Ireland broke twice to snatch goals through Mattie Geoghegan and Jimmy Dunne and they led early in the second half.
Norway's dominance was unquestioned, however, and the weight of their attacks finally told as they scored twice to win the match 3-2 and leave Ireland with a difficult task in the return leg.
This match was played at Dalymount Park on November 7, 1937, and was notable on several counts. The players's shirts were numbered for the first time and Ireland introduced some significant younger players.
One of them was the hugely versatile Kevin O'Flanagan, who was known as "The Flying Doctor", another was Tommy Foy of Shamrock Rovers and a third was the 18 years old Johnny Carey who had transferred weeks earlier from St. James' Gate to Manchester United for a fee of £250.00.
O'Flanagan, who played with Bohemians in Dublin, shared with his younger brother Michael the distinction of playing at international level for Ireland in Soccer and Rugby and he was also an accomplished track and field athlete for he excelled in the long jump and in the sprint events.
He led a busy life while he practised his profession as a medical doctor in London for he played as an amateur with Arsenal in the English First Division and also played rugby with London Irish. His distinction meant he became the third Irishman, after J. J. Keane and Lord Killanin, to be elected to the International Olympic Committee.
The return match against Norway drew 27,000 spectators to Dalymount and with accomplished senior players in the team like the famous Jimmy Dunne, Joe O'Reilly and Bill Gorman, Ireland firmly believed they could overturn the deficit from Oslo.
It was not to be. Carey had the ball in the net within five minutes but was whistled back for offside by English referee George Gibbs but it seemed not to matter as Dunne put Ireland in front after ten minutes.
Norway scored twice before half-time and when they had a third within four minutes of the start of the second half, Ireland's cause looked hopeless. O'Flanagan reduced the deficit with still 28 minutes to play and in a thrilling finish, Harry Duggan headed an equaliser from Carey's cross but it was too little too late.
Norway went through 6-5 on aggregate and a frustrating pattern of elimination in the qualifying tournament of the World Cup was established. It would remain in place until 1990.
Meanwhile the roll-out of the game continued apace under the aegis of the FAIFS and gradually the national competitions drew in more entries from outside of the main stronghold in Dublin.
The eight clubs who formed the original Football League of Ireland in the 1921/'22 season were all based in Dublin - Bohemians, Dublin United, Frankfort, Jacob's, Olympia, St. James' Gate, Shelbourne and YMCA. Frankfort had headquarters at Richmond Road while Drumcondra, withdrew before the end of the season.
St. James' Gate won the inaugural League championship and Shelbourne won the Shield competition. Progress was accelerated in the second season when Athlone Town affiliated and a welcome was also extended to a club that would become synonymous with everything good about the game in Ireland - Shamrock Rovers.
There were twelve clubs in the League at the start of the new season and while a club from Rathmines failed to complete the programme this did not affect the competition which was won, significantly, by Shamrock Rovers. They were five points clear of Shelbourne with Bohemians third.
The Dublin clubs inevitably dominated the national competitions in the early years but there was a significant interruption in the sequence of results in the Cup competition which, from the outset, carried with it the glamour and glitz traditionally associated with the knock-out competition.
Alton United, a Junior team from the Falls Road area of Belfast, won the Cup in 1923. It was a chastening occurrence for the principals of the new Association, who had enjoyed such positive responses from most quarters after their decision to secede from the IFA two years earlier.
Circumstances were unusual, however, for Belfast Celtic was suspended from the Irish League at the time and many of their players transferred to Alton.
The Falls League was then affiliated to the Free State Association and Alton had qualified for the Cup by winning that competition. Their 1-0 win over Shelbourne in the final was a sharp reality check for the southern clubs.
Among the many famous sportsmen involved in this era was Val Harris who played with Shelbourne. He won an All-Ireland Gaelic Football medal with Dublin in 1901 and went on to share in Shelbourne's Cup successes of 1906 and 1920.
A revealing commentary on the troubled political state of the time was the necessity to provide the visiting Alton United party with an armed escort upon their arrival by train at Amiens Street Station. The escort party remained with them throughout the day.
They were obviously not un-nerved by this experience for they shocked Shelbourne at Dalymount Park by winning the Cup and taking it for the first time across the newly defined border. It would be 66 more years before Derry City once again carried the famous trophy into Ulster.
The Cup brought excitement and spectacle to the football season throughout its history as a succession of clubs stepped up to claim it and take it on its criss-cross journeys from Dublin to every corner of the country.
Athlone Town were the first provincial winners in 1924, Shamrock Rovers wrote their name on its base for the first of many times the following year and Fordsons, of Cork, confirmed their status as one of the best teams we have seen by carrying it to the southern coast in 1926.
Then, in 1927, the most glamorous of competitions threw up another of its many romantic tales when Drumcondra became the first non-senior team south of the border to win the Cup. They were competing in the Leinster Senior League at the time.
That Drumcondra team produced several players who later became famous but at the time of their Cup success they had only one player of national reputation in their ranks. He was Joe Grace, a tall, commanding, centre-half who had previously played with Belfast Celtic.
Grace, in 1926, had achieved the unique distinction of being selected for Ireland's senior international team while playing in the Leinster League. He was hugely influential as Drumcondra defeated Brideville 1-0 in the Cup final.
Drumcondra further enhanced their reputation and paved their way for accession to the Free State League of Ireland by reaching the final again the following year. They lost 1-2 to Bohemians.
The dominance of the Dublin clubs in the Football League of Ireland was increasingly threatened throughout the 1930s. Dundalk and Sligo Rovers emerged to win Championship titles and teams marched on Dublin from Cork and Waterford to claim the FAI Cup.
An integral part of the vibrant football scene in the South at the time was the inter-League competition between the League of Ireland, the Irish League and the Welsh League. Attendances of 30,000 at matches in Dalymount Park was testimony to the attraction these matches presented.
Officials of the FAI had made great strides in establishing the organisation across Europe but still, in the late 1930s, had to work to secure the support of their Northern Ireland counterparts and the officers of the Football Associations in England and Scotland.
The FAI succeeded in making a major breakthrough on St. Patrick's Day, 1939, when they persuaded the Scottish League to send a representative team to Dublin to play the League of Ireland selection.
Scotland's team was billed as a team of all-stars and their collective worth on the transfer market was variously estimated at about £60,000 - a considerable sum at a time when the average industrial wage was less than £3 per week.
The League of Ireland team were not awed by the reputation of their distinguished guests, however, and a happy occasion was made memorable for the FAI as Johnny Johnstone and Paddy Bradshaw scored the goals that gave them a 2-1 win.
Less than 20 years after its foundation, the organisation headquartered in Dublin had reason to look upon the strides that had been made with pride.