A Paddy Barlow hat-trick in Dundalk’s 4-2 Dublin City Cup final victory over Drumcondra began the distribution of trophies for the 1942-43 season, but Cork United decided to set their stall out relatively early this year, with five wins from five at the Mardyke (they would remain unbeaten at home through all four competitions) helping them to a first League of Ireland Shield, despite strong challenges from Shelbourne, Bohemians and Dundalk. United would go on to become the first club to win three consecutive League of Ireland championships, this time claiming the title with a point to spare over Dundalk, a last-minute goal for St. James’s Gate against the Louth club preventing the league from going to a play-off. Although beaten by underdogs Drumcondra in the F.A.I. Cup final (this year, the six F.A.I. Cup first round matches were contested over two legs, with two teams then receiving a bye into the semi-finals), the fact that it was Cork United’s third consecutive appearance in the decider only served to cement their position as the dominant League of Ireland force in the early 1940s. Meanwhile, Drumcondra (who had been investing heavily in their Tolka Park home in recent years) combined their F.A.I. Cup success with a top three finish in the league, their best league showing in their 15 seasons so far.
Action from the 1943 cup final between Drumcondra and Cork United
The Intercity Cup final was an all-southern affair for the second season in a row, Shamrock Rovers taking the trophy on corners after drawing 2-2 with Bohemians over two legs. Having finished well adrift at the bottom of the table for the previous three campaigns (winning just four games during those three league seasons), Bray Unknowns failed to attain re-election, and 1942-43 would prove to be their last-ever League of Ireland involvement. With Brideville also absent for the start of the new season, the 1943-44 title race would be contested by just eight sides.
1943 would unfortunately see the premature deaths of two of the most prominent league players of the last decade or so. In March, Bohemians utility player (he played in every position except goalkeeper for the club) and seven-time Irish international Fred Horlacher passed away after a short illness, and in September, former Cork, Waterford, Hibernian and Ireland winger Tim O’Keeffe lost his battle with cancer. Both players were just 33 years old at the time of their deaths.
League of Ireland 1942-43
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League top scorers : Seanie McCarthy Cork United, 16 Davy Walsh Limerick, 13 Paddy Coad Shamrock Rovers, 12 Don McDonald Dundalk, 12 Tommy McNamara Drumcondra, 12
Representative matches : League of Ireland 0-1 Northern Regional League, Northern Regional League 2-2 League of Ireland