Dundalk Great Northern Railway Football Club
Our ninth League game of the 1977-78 season was against Dundalk, one of Ireland’s oldest clubs. The Great Northern Railway Association Football Club was founded in 1903. They joined the Leinster Senior league in 1922 under the name Dundalk GNR, and were elected to the Free State league four years later, replacing Pioneers. They changed their name to simply Dundalk when they first became league champions in 1933. They won the cup twice in the 1940s, and twice again in the 1950s. Their breakthrough second league title came in 1963, exactly 30 years after their first, under club captain John Murphy. Their forward line included Francie Callan and the one-armed Jimmy Hasty, whose favourite trick was to lean his stump on the shoulders of jumping defenders, knowing that referees would be reluctant to give a free against him.
In 1964 Dundalk became the first Irish team to win a European Cup match, but went out on aggregate to Swiss champions FC Zurich. They won the league again in 1967, and the following year beat Dutch side Utrecht to reach the second round of the European Fairs Cup. It was a bittersweet victory, as defender Patsy McKeown had his career ended by a broken leg in the away game, which ended with the sides level. Dundalk replaced McKeown for the home game by re-signing John Murphy, who had captained the club to the league title five years previously. They claimed the historic victory in extra time, when defender Jimmy Morrisey, from the edge of the penalty area, headed home a cross from Tony O’Connell.
After a fallow period, Dundalk had once again become a top side in the mid-seventies. They won the league in 1976, losing only once throughout the season, and followed up with a remarkable performance against PSV Eindhoven in the European Cup. Fans descended on Oriel Park, chartering coaches from Dublin and a flight from London. An early goal by Seamus McDowall put the Louth side ahead against the Dutch champions, who had eight internationals from the home of ‘total football’. A late Eindhoven equaliser failed to spoil a great night for the club, though they were beaten comprehensively in the away leg. Dundalk went on to win the FAI Cup in 1977, beating Limerick in the final thanks to two goals from former Bohemians striker Terry Flanagan.
They had a poor start to the 1977-78 season, and were languishing in mid-table when Bohemians travelled to Oriel Park with some confidence.