Sun Sep 25, 1977 – Galway Rovers 0 Bohs 0
Thirty years ago today, the Irish media’s sporting focus was on the All-Ireland Gaelic football final. Outside Croke Park, with thousands of fans deterred by recent crowd violence at big games, the Gardai were infuriating touts by giving away decks of unsold tickets. Inside the stadium, Dublin beat Armagh before the second-lowest final attendance in a quarter of a century, which was still massively more than the combined crowds at all of the League of Ireland matches that Sunday. Not that I can complain, because I stayed at home and watched The Big Match on UTV, before fantasising about Felicity Kendall in The Good Life, instead of travelling to Galway for Bohs’ fifth league game of the season.
Galway Rovers had finally made the breakthrough to the League of Ireland after forty years competing in junior football with local rivals Galway Bohemians. Their player-manager, Amby Fogarty, was a league of Ireland legend. He had played for Sunderland and won 11 Ireland caps before returning home to manage Cork Celtic, Cork Hibs, Drumcondra and Athlone Town. His Galway squad had a mix of locals and Dublin-based players, including midfielder Eamon Deacy, who had played for Limerick in the recent cup final. And they had spent about £15,000 upgrading Terryland Park for their new adventure, including plans for a new 800-seat stand.
Even without hindsight, the omens for a goal-fest were bad. Galway had yet to score in any of their four league games, and we had fired blanks against Thurles and Newcastle. Also, Leeds had drawn with Man United on the Saturday, and Bohs had got the same result as Leeds for the past four weekends. So it was 100% certain that this game would be a nil all draw. Joe Burke was still out injured, and Tommy Kelly had picked up a knock against Thurles, so Bohs lined out with Mick Smyth in goal; Eamon Gregg, John McCormack, Padraig O’Connor and Fran O’Brien in defence; Pat Byrne, Niall Shelly, Austin Brady and Gerry Ryan in midfield; and Turly O’Connor and Eddie Byrne up front. Two substitutes, Joey Malone and Tony Dixon, also got their first action of the season.
Thankfully, the most important other result that day went our way. Cork Albert, who had improved beyond recognition since we hammered them on the first day of the season, beat league leaders Finn Harps in Ballybofey. Amazingly, it was the Cork side’s fourth win, and fourth clean sheet, in a row. But the other main title contenders all won: Sligo Rovers beat Cork Celtic, Drogheda beat Home Farm, and Shamrock Rovers had already hammered Shelbourne the previous day. So the top of the league was as close as it could be. There were four teams on eight points each: Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps, Shamrock Rovers and Cork Albert. And we were a point behind them, level with Drogheda on seven points.
However, next up was the daunting midweek challenge of beating Newcastle United away, after failing to score in 180 minutes of football against the might of Thurles Town and Galway Rovers.