seamus dubhghaill

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


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Death of Tom Aherne, Irish Footballer & Hurler

Thomas Aherne, Irish footballer and hurler also referred to as Bud Aherne, dies on December 30, 1999. He plays football for Belfast Celtic F.C. and Luton Town F.C. and is a dual internationalist, playing for both Ireland teams – the IFA XI and the FAI XI. In 1949 he is a member of the FAI XI that defeats England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home. As a hurler he also plays one game for Limerick.

Aherne is born in Limerick, County Limerick, on January 26, 1919. As a youth, he initially emerges as a prominent hurler with Treaty Sarsfields and also plays one game for Limerick. However he subsequently decides to concentrate on football and begins his senior career with Limerick United where his teammates include Davy Walsh. During World War II, he serves in the Irish Army and is stationed at Crosshaven. His impressive performances in the League of Ireland attract attention and in 1946 he is signed by Belfast Celtic.

While at Belfast Celtic, Aherne plays alongside Jackie Vernon, Billy McMillan, Robin Lawler and Johnny Campbell and helps them win the Irish Cup in 1947 and an Irish League title in 1948. He is also at Celtic during the infamous Boxing Day riot which breaks out during a game against local rivals Linfield F.C. In March 1949, he leaves Celtic and signs for Luton Town. However, in May 1949, he temporarily rejoins Celtic for their final tour before the club disbands. Together with McMillan, Campbell, Lawlor, guest player Mick O’Flanagan and manager Elisha Scott, he goes on the Celtic tour of North America. The highlight of the 10-game tour comes on May 29 when Celtic beats the reigning British champions, Scotland, 2–0.

Aherne signed for Luton Town for a fee of £6,000 and makes his English Football League debut on March 19 in a 2–1 away defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Despite the fact he is over 30 when he joins Luton, he quickly establishes himself as a regular. He plays competitive football into his late thirties and is ever-present during the 1954–55 season when Luton wins promotion to Division One. After playing 288 games for Luton, including 267 in the league, he retires after a hairline fracture of the ankle ends his career. Even then he continues to play for a local league team, Luton Celtic, into his forties.

When Aherne begins his international career in 1946 there are in effect, two Ireland teams, chosen by two rival associations. Both associations, the Belfast-based Irish Football Association and the Dublin-based Football Association of Ireland, claim jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland and select players from the whole island. As a result, several notable Irish players from this era, including Aherne play for both teams.

Between 1946 and 1953 Aherne makes 16 appearances for the FAI XI. He makes his FAI debut in June 1946 during an Iberian tour, playing in both the 3–1 defeat to Portugal on June 16 and then helping the FAI XI gain a surprise 1–0 victory against Spain on June 23. He remains a regular in the FAI XI throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s and is featured prominently in the qualifying rounds for the 1950 FIFA World Cup. He is also a member of the FAI XI team that defeats England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home.

On November 16, 1953, during a 1–1 draw with France, Aherne briefly becomes involved in controversy. Although only a friendly, the game quickly becomes heated and at one point, with Aherne chasing Raymond Kopa down the tunnel after play had been stopped for a foul. Kopa allegedly runs for his life after upsetting Aherne once too often. The FAI selectors are not impressed and Aherne is told a repeat will end his international career. As it turns out, he makes only one more appearance for the FAI XI. That comes on October 4, 1953, in 5–3 defeat against France during a qualifier for the 1954 FIFA World Cup.

Between 1946 and 1950, Aherne also makes six appearances for the IFA XI. These include two Victory Internationals played in early 1946. On February 2 at Windsor Park, he makes his debut for the IFA XI in a 3–2 defeat to Scotland. Then on May 4 he helps the IFA XI defeat Wales 1–0 at Ninian Park. On September 28, 1946, he also plays for the IFA XI in a heavy defeat to England. The highlight of his career with the IFA XI comes on October 4, 1947 when he helps them gain a 2–0 win against Scotland.

Ahern makes his last appearance for the IFA XI in a 0–0 draw with Wales on March 8, 1950. As well as being part of the 1950 British Home Championship, the game also doubles up as a qualifier for the 1950 FIFA World Cup. Aherne, together with Con Martin, Reg Ryan and Davy Walsh, is one of four players from the Republic, included in the IFA XI that day and as a result he plays for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament. This situation eventually leads to intervention by FIFA and as a result Aherne becomes one of the last four Republic-born players to play for the IFA XI.

After retiring as a player Aherne settles in Luton where he coaches the Luton Town youth team, works in the local car industry and runs a very successful licensed premises. He also continues to visit Limerick regularly and remains healthy and active until he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the mid-1990s. He dies on December 30, 1999 at the age of 80 and is survived by his wife, Eileen, two sons, Pat and Brian, and three daughters, Maura, Trisha and Catherine.


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Ireland National Football Team Becomes First to Defeat England at Home

The Republic of Ireland national football team defeats the England national football team 2-0 in a friendly international at Goodison Park, Liverpool, the home of Everton F.C., on September 21, 1949. As a result, Ireland becomes the first foreign team to beat England at home. In 1953, the Hungarian team known as the Mighty Magyars defeats England 6–3, to become the second team to do so.

During the 1940s, there are in effect, two Ireland teams, chosen by two rival associations — the Northern Ireland-based Irish Football Association (IFA) and the Republic of Ireland-based Football Association of Ireland (FAI). Both organisations claim jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland, and select players from the whole island. As a result, several notable Irish players from this era play for both teams. The IFA XI had played England regularly since 1882, and claim their first victory, by a score of 3–0, on English soil at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough, on February 14, 1914, but this is only the second time England and the FAI XI have met. Despite this, several members of the FAI XI had played against England several times before while representing the IFA XI. Striker Davy Walsh had previously scored three times against England.

The FAI XI plays England for the first time at Dalymount Park on September 30, 1946. A team, featuring Johnny Carey, Con Martin and Billy Walsh, are narrowly defeated 1–0 when Tom Finney scores the winner in the 82nd minute. Two days earlier, on September 28, Carey and Tom Aherne had been included in the IFA XI that had been heavily defeated 7–2 by the same England side. The next time the IFA XI play England, on November 5, 1947, their team includes six players — Carey, Martin, Billy Walsh, Peter Farrell, Davy Walsh and Tommy Eglington — who had previously played for the FAI XI. Davy Walsh scores the opening goal in a 2–2 draw at Goodison Park. Carey, Martin, Farrell and Walsh also play for the IFA XI in their 6–2 defeat by England at Windsor Park on October 10, 1948. Davy Walsh also scores both goals that day.

The September 21, 1949 match is used by both teams as part of their preparations for forthcoming World Cup qualifiers. Despite the absence of both Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen, England fields a strong team, including Billy Wright, Neil Franklin, Wilf Mannion and Tom Finney. Ireland’s team includes just seven First Division players, but these include Johnny Carey who is voted FWA Footballer of the Year in 1949. Another two Irish players, Tom Aherne and Tommy Moroney, like Finney, play in the English Football League Second Division. The remaining two Irish players, goalkeeper Tommy Godwin and Tommy O’Connor both play for Shamrock Rovers F.C. in the League of Ireland.

The early pattern of the game sees England launch wave after wave of attacks. However Tommy Godwin is in inspired form and Con Martin, Tom Aherne and Johnny Carey prove too difficult for England to get past. Carey is also effective in keeping Tom Finney quiet, while wing-halves Billy Walsh and Tommy Moroney gradually take the sting out of the English front line. Ireland takes the lead in the 33rd minute when Peter Desmond, after collecting a pass from Tommy O’Connor, bursts into the England penalty area and is brought down. Con Martin then converts the subsequent penalty kick. During the second half the wave of England attacks continues. Peter Harris hits the bar and Jesse Pye also goes close. However Peter Farrell, playing at his club Everton’s home ground, makes victory certain in the 85th minute. O’Connor slips the ball to Farrell and as the English goalkeeper Bert Williams advances, Farrell lofts the ball into the net.

(Pictured: The Irish team which beat England 2-0 at Goodison Park in 1949. Back Row (L to R): Con Martin, Tommy Aherne, Tommy Godwin, Tommy Moroney and Willie Walsh. Seated (L to R): Peter Corr, Tommy O’Connor, Johnny Carey, Peter Desmond, Peter Farrell and Davy Walsh.)


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Pat Jennings Becomes First to Make 1,000 Senior Appearances

On February 26, 1983, Northern Irish footballer Pat Jennings becomes the first player in English football to make 1,000 senior appearances, celebrating this milestone with a clean sheet in a goalless league draw for Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion.

Jennings is born in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland on June 12, 1945. After playing for Shamrock Rovers‘ under-18 side at the age of 11, he concentrates on Gaelic football until he is sixteen years old, when he makes his soccer comeback with his hometown side Newry Town. After impressing with the team he moves to English Third Division side Watford in May 1963. He again impresses in his first season in England, playing every league game for his club. He makes his international debut with the Northern Ireland national football team at the age of eighteen while playing for Watford. This game, on April 15, 1964, is a British Home Championship match against Wales, with Northern Ireland winning the game 3–2. George Best makes his international debut in the same game. Jennings is signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £27,000 in June 1964.

Jennings spends thirteen years at White Hart Lane, where he plays in 472 league games for Spurs, and 591 in all competitions. He wins the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972. In the 1967 Charity Shield he scores once from his own area, kicking the ball from his hands and sending a large punt down the field that bounces over Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney and into the net. In 1973 the Football Writers’ Association names him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he wins Professional Footballers’ Association‘s version of the award, the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton.

In August 1977, he is transferred to Tottenham’s arch-rivals, Arsenal, with Tottenham thinking he is nearing the end of his career. However, he sees off rivals for the goalkeeper’s jersey to play for Arsenal for another eight years. While at Highbury, he helps Arsenal to four Cup finals in three successive years, the FA Cup final in 1978, 1979, and 1980, as well as the European Cup Winners’ Cup final that year. However, Arsenal only manages to win the second of these finals, a 3–2 victory against Manchester United. In total, he makes 327 appearances for Arsenal, 237 of them in the League, between 1977 and his eventual retirement from first-team club football in 1985.

Despite his retirement from club football in 1985, Jennings returns to Tottenham Hotspur, playing mostly in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness for Northern Ireland’s 1986 FIFA World Cup campaign. He plays his final international game at the 1986 World Cup, on his 41st birthday, making him at the time the World Cup’s oldest-ever participant. The match is Northern Ireland’s final group game, a 3–0 defeat against Brazil. In total, he participates in the qualifying stages of six World Cups between 1966 and 1986.

Jennings final appearance for Tottenham is in the Football League Super Cup against Liverpool in January 1986. He is also briefly on Everton‘s books, having been signed as goalkeeping cover for the 1986 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, Neville Southall having been injured playing for Wales.

Jennings works as a goalkeeping coach at Tottenham since 1993. In 2003 he is inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in the English league. He and his family have lived for many years in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, where his son attended The Broxbourne School along with the sons of fellow Spurs players Chris Hughton, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ray Clemence. He is still associated with the Spurs and hosts Corporate Hospitality fans in the Pat Jennings Lounges at White Hart Lane and Windsor Park, Belfast.


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Birth of Pat Jennings, Northern Ireland Footballer

pat-jenningsPatrick Anthony Jennings, Northern Irish footballer, is born in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland on June 12, 1945. He plays 119 games for Northern Ireland as a goalkeeper, a figure which at the time is a world record and is still a Northern Ireland record, in an international career which lasts for over 22 years.

After playing for the Shamrock Rovers F.C. under-18 squad at the age of 11, Jennings concentrates on Gaelic football until he is sixteen years old, when he makes his soccer comeback with his hometown Newry City F.C.. After impressing with the team he moves to English Third Division Watford F.C. in May 1963. He again impresses in his first season in England, playing every league game for his club, and making two international appearances that season. He is signed by Tottenham Hotspur F.C. for £27,000 in June 1964.

Jennings spends thirteen years at White Hart Lane, where he plays in 472 league games for the Spurs, and 591 in all competitions. He wins the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972. In 1973 the Football Writers’ Association name him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he wins the Professional Footballers’ Association‘s (PFA) version of the award, the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade.

In August 1977, Jennings is transferred to Tottenham’s arch-rivals, Arsenal F.C., with Tottenham thinking he is nearing the end of his career. However, Jennings plays for Arsenal for another eight years where he helps Arsenal to the FA Cup final in 1978, 1979, and 1980, as well as the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final that year. However, Arsenal only manages to win the second of these finals, a 3–2 victory against Manchester United F.C.. In total, Jennings makes 327 appearances for Arsenal between 1977 and his eventual retirement from first-team club football in 1985. On February 26, 1983, he becomes the first player in English football to make 1,000 senior appearances, celebrating this milestone with a clean sheet in a goalless league draw for Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion F.C.

After his retirement, Jennings returns to Tottenham Hotspur, playing mostly in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness for Northern Ireland’s 1986 FIFA World Cup campaign. His final appearance for Tottenham is in the Football League Super Cup against Liverpool F.C. in January 1986. He also plays briefly for Everton F.C., having been signed as goalkeeping cover for the 1986 FA Cup Final against Liverpool.

Despite retiring from club football in 1985, Jennings plays his final international game at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, on his 41st birthday, making him at the time the World Cup’s oldest ever participant. The match is Northern Ireland’s final group game, a 3–0 defeat against Brazil. In total, he participates in the qualifying stages of six World Cups between 1966 and 1986.

Following his retirement Jennings works as a goalkeeping coach. In 2003 he is inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in the English league. His son, also named Pat, is also a goalkeeper. He has played for League of Ireland clubs University College Dublin A.F.C., Derry City F.C., Shamrock Rovers and NIFL Premiership club Glenavon F.C.

Jennings and his family have lived for many years in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, where his son attended The Broxbourne School along with the sons of fellow Spurs players Chris Hughton, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ray Clemence. He is still associated with the Spurs and hosts Corporate Hospitality fans in the Pat Jennings Lounges at White Hart Lane and Windsor Park, Belfast.