When we were kings: glorious win undimmed by time
This star-studded England side meant to avoid the stigma of losing for the first time in 17 meetings, but the Irish outfit had other ideas
As confidence grew, so the visiting defence came under concerted pressure for the first time in the game. Whelan had a shot smothered by Armfield and then, as the screw turned, came an equaliser that rocked the stadium.
Moore’s headed clearance following O’Connell’s corner kick travelled only as far as Bailham lurking just outside the penalty area and the shot flew into the top corner of the net.
Suddenly the game was transformed. A 30-yard free from Roberts crashed against the underside of the crossbar, only for Whelan to head the rebound into the arms of Waiters.
Fitzgerald and Mooney combined to throw the visiting defence into something approaching panic with a swift break down the right soon afterwards and then, for the second time in the game, Dalymount erupted with just 11 minutes left.
Fullam tapped an indirect free to Bailham and when the latter’s pass arrived at Whelan’s feet just yards out, the finish was inch perfect. After his long periods of inactivity in the opening half, Waiters found himself retrieving the ball from his net for a second time and as the scorer raced to accept the acclaim of the masses, history was in the making.
True, it required another agile save by Darcy to prevent Hunt snatching an equaliser as the crowd held its collective breath in the dying minutes, but with Pip Meighan in no mood to stretch their nerves to breaking point in added time, the end came just in time to provoke some of the most remarkable celebrations witnessed in the old stadium for years.
The unsung heroes of the League of Ireland were at last able to claim a victory over the English aristocrats.
By the time the Dalymount game ended, even the man responsible for arranging the work roster in the Unidare factory had probably grown to appreciate the significance of it all. The morning after the game, the papers were full of praise for the Irish victory and the manner in which Whelan had recovered from his earlier gaffe to secure the historic win.
With his name splashed across the headlines, he was now viewed as one of the country’s favourite sons. And when he reported for work the following evening to be told the departmental manager wanted to see him, his mates were teasing him about the likelihood of receiving a bonus or even a promotion for the media profile he had earned for his employers.
Imagine his surprise then, when the man brandishing the sports pages of the Irish Press on the other side of the desk informed him that he did not, in fact, have permission to play in the game and if he absented himself from work in similar circumstances in the future, he would be dismissed on the spot. There are indeed times in life when one just cannot win!
From the Press Box: 70 Years of Great Moments in Irish Sport, by Peter Byrne, released in early November by Liberties Press, €17.99