seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Republic of Ireland’s First World Cup Finals Match

The Republic of Ireland plays their first ever match in the finals of the World Cup, drawing 1-1 with England in Cagliari, Sardinia on June 11, 1990.

At Italia ’90 the Irish team is drawn in a very tough Group F that includes European champions the Netherlands, African footballing power Egypt, and England. This is something of a coincidence as the English and the Dutch were also in Ireland’s UEFA Euro 1988 group. The tournament organisers are fearful that this grouping might lead to crowd disorder particularly between the English and Dutch fans. The group is based on the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia and security is very tight with alcohol bans in place on match days.

Ireland’s first match at a World Cup finals competition is against their longtime foe England. The English are seeking revenge for their surprise defeat by the Irish in the opening group match at Euro ’88. Once again Bobby Robson‘s English team is expected to beat Ireland and his players underline that by taking an early lead through an eight minute goal from Gary Lineker. Despite Ireland getting a greater foothold in the second half an equaliser is elusive until an error by Steve McMahon allows Kevin Sheedy to score in the 73rd minute.

Ireland’s next matches are against Egypt and the Netherlands, both played in Palermo and both ending in a draw. The Irish team finishes group play with 0 wins, 0 losses and 3 draws. England registers the only win in the group, beating Egypt. The three European teams progress into the next round.

In the knock-out round Ireland avoids drawing West Germany, the ultimate winner of the 1990 World Cup. They draw Romania as their first opponent and end regulation in yet another draw in Genoa. A penalty shoot-out follows and after the first eight penalties the teams are still tied at 4-4. Irish goalkeeper Packie Bonner blocks Romania’s fifth penalty kick. David O’Leary steps up confidently and sends his kick past the goalkeeper and into the net. Ireland has advanced to the quarterfinals at the first attempt.

Ireland bows out at the quarterfinals stage losing by a single goal to the hosts, Italy, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. It is a very strange campaign in that Ireland does not won any of their matches, scores only two goals, and plays in some really poor matches in terms of quality of play. Notwithstanding this the Irish over-achieve which is fully appreciated by the Irish supporters. The green army stays on in the Stadio Olimpico long after the final whistle to laud manager Jack Charlton and his gallant squad.

(From: “Ireland at 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy,” Soccer-Ireland.com, http://www.soccer-ireland.com | Photograph by Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE)


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Birth of Norman Whiteside, Northern Ireland Footballer

norman-whitesideNorman Whiteside, former Northern Ireland international footballer who played in two World Cups, is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on May 7, 1965. He plays both as a midfielder and as a striker.

Whiteside grows up on Shankill Road, and because of his aggressive, physical playing style he is later nicknamed the “Shankill Skinhead” by Manchester United supporters. The family later moves to 10 Danube Street. He remains relatively unscathed by The Troubles as his Protestant parents keep a firm watch on their children to ensure that they do not stray far from home and that none of them become involved with Ulster loyalism. At around seven years of age he joins the Boys’ Brigade, and quickly shows his natural talent for football, scoring ten goals in a game against boys almost twice his age. He is educated at Cairnmartin High School, and becomes famous in the Shankill area as a footballing prodigy by the age of eleven.

Whiteside is said to have been discovered by Ipswich Town scout Jim Rodgers, who is told by manager Bobby Robson to wait until Whiteside grows older. Instead, it is Manchester United’s 80-year-old Ulster scout Bob Bishop, who previously unearthed Belfast-born George Best and Sammy McIlroy for the club, who first offers him a trial at an English club. He finds that he has been offered schoolboy terms at the club during a school trip to the United States, on which he and his classmates meet President Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office, a rare and extraordinary occasion for children from a disadvantaged background.

Whiteside signs professional forms in 1982 at the age of 17 and quickly becomes a key member of the Manchester United club. He scores 68 goals in 278 league and cup appearances for the club over the next seven years, picking up two FA Cup winners medals in 1983 and 1985, as well as playing in the 1982 FA Youth Cup final, the 1983 League Cup final, and the FA Charity Shield in 1983.

Whiteside remains with United until July 1989, when he is sold to Everton F.C. for £600,000. However intense running sessions run by coach Mick Lyons take their toll on his right knee, and on September 20, 1990 he takes a knock in a practice match, which requires him to have another operation on his right knee. After the return of Howard Kendall as manager in November 1990, he manages to appear in a few reserve team games, but this only delays the inevitable, and he is forced to retire from the game at the age of 26 in June 1991.

Upon retirement, Whiteside studies to become a podiatrist, graduating with a degree from the University of Salford, and serves Northwich Victoria F.C. as their assistant manager/physio from October 1991 until March 1992. He quits the role as he does not enjoy the amount of time spent travelling between games. He instead became an after-dinner speaker and also works for the Professional Footballers’ Association, while taking a postgraduate course at Manchester Metropolitan University. He later takes up private practice as a podiatrist in Manchester. Since 1994, he has also worked at the corporate hospitality department at Old Trafford. In 2003, he releases a book entitled My Memories of Manchester United. With the help of writer Rob Bagchi, he releases his autobiography entitled Determined in August 2007, published by Headline Publishing Group, and with a foreword by actor James Nesbitt.

Whiteside holds records as the youngest player to take part in a World Cup, the youngest player to score in a League Cup and FA Cup final, and the youngest player to score a senior goal for Manchester United. Winning 38 caps for Northern Ireland, he plays at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, and also helps his country to win the last ever British Home Championship in 1983–1984.