Dundalk legend Tommy McConville dies, aged 67

‘Thanks to his ball playing style and majestic elegance, he stood out wherever he played’

Former Dundalk defender  Tommy McConville won three league titles and three FAI cups wtih the club.

Former Dundalk defender Tommy McConville won three league titles and three FAI cups wtih the club.

 

The death has taken place today of former Republic of Ireland international Tommy McConville, aged 67, the enormously popular defender who enjoyed great success with his hometown club Dundalk.

McConville, initially a forward, made his debut as a teenager for the club in 1964 and, after spells with Waterford, Shamrock Rovers, Bangor and then summers away playing in the NASL for clubs in Washington and New York, lined out for the Oriel Park outfit for the last time at the age of 40.

He won his first league title with Waterford in 1973, but apparently fell irrevocably out with the club after discovering that the board had turned down an offer for him from Manchester United, demanding a fee that deterred the English side.

Soon afterwards, he left for Shamrock Rovers.

It was back with Dundalk that he, and the local fans, enjoyed his best years, though, and the player was a key figure in teams that won three league titles, three FAI cups and assorted other honours.

He played in many of the club’s greatest ever European ties too and was forever being reminded about the last minute “miss” against Celtic that would have put the Scottish champions out of the European Cup and the Irish team into the quarter-finals: he invariably dealt with the subject with characteristic warmth and good humour.

Along the way, he won six international caps, making his debut in October 1971 against Austria and picking up the remaining five over the course of the following two years.

“For Dundalk supporters Tommy ‘Mac’ was the best League of Ireland defender of his era,” writes club historian Jim Murphy in tribute to him. “For many of them he has never been bettered. His hallmarks as a defender, whether at centre or wing-back, were astute reading of the game, intuitive anticipation, natural athleticism — brute force was not for Tommy — and thanks to his ball playing style and majestic elegance, he stood out wherever he played, whether in the League of Ireland or in the major stadiums of Europe, or North and South America.”

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