In the space of just six years, Cork United had joined Bohemian F.C. on a total of five League of Ireland titles, after winning yet another league trophy in 1946, to go with the Dublin City Cup that they had won at the beginning of the season. Drumcondra led the league’s chasing pack on this occasion, two points behind the Leesiders, and also won their third F.A.I. Cup, defeating Shamrock Rovers 2-1 in the final (like Rovers the year before, Drums had lost two games on their way to the decider). It was the first real breakthrough season for the club from the north side of Dublin, who would play such a huge part in the League of Ireland story over the next quarter of a century or so. 1945-46 saw them capture their first League of Ireland Shield, thanks to a 4-1 “away” win over second-placed Shelbourne (Shels had switched the eagerly-anticipated match to Dalymount Park and the attendance ended up being around 23,000) on the last day of the competition, and Drums also took part in what proved to be the best attended fixture in League of Ireland history this season, with some 31,000 people present at Dalymount Park to watch their 1-1 draw with Cork United. Drums therefore failed to gain revenge for their 9-1 drubbing at the Mardyke earlier in the season, in which Cork’s Paddy O’Leary had scored an incredible six goals (the Drumcondra goal was scored by future Leeds, Aston Villa and Ireland star Con Martin).
Shamrock Rovers, with Davy Cochrane back in their side (he had spent the last three seasons with Linfield), replicated Bohemians’ 3-2 aggregate win over Belfast Celtic in the previous season’s final to capture their second Intercity Cup. Having first come up against a Glentoran side that featured future Northern Ireland and Tottenham Hotspur great Danny Blanchflower (the young wing-half scored twice in his side’s 4-3 aggregate defeat), Rovers were then the only League of Ireland team in the semi-finals, as Linfield, Belfast Celtic and Distillery all accounted for their southern opponents. Former Belfast Celtic player Jimmy McAlinden had been with Rovers for the main season, but had left for Portsmouth by the time they came up against his old teammates in the final in early June. A 3-1 win at Windsor Park meant a 1-0 loss in the second leg at Dalymount Park was not enough to deprive the Hoops of the trophy.
Davy Cochrane left Shamrock Rovers soon afterwards, and the club would also sell Peter Farrell and Tommy Eglington (the Hoops’ top scorer this season) to Everton for a combined fee of £9,000, with the twosome becoming key players for the Merseysiders and for Ireland over the coming decade. Shelbourne defender Eddie Gannon joined Notts County, and a number of League of Ireland players would be lured north of the border. Despite the war having ended and many of the Emergency’s worst restrictions having been relaxed, only the same eight teams made themselves available for the beginning of the 1946-47 season (it was unusual to see Shelbourne and Bohemians occupying this year’s re-election positions). The effects of the post-war economy were continuing to make life difficult for League of Ireland clubs.
League of Ireland 1945-46
League top scorers : Paddy O’Leary Cork United, 15 Tommy Eglington Shamrock Rovers, 11 Tommy McCormack Drumcondra, 11 Mick O’Flanagan Bohemians, 11
Representative matches : League of Ireland 1-2 Northern Regional League, Northern Regional League 3-0 League of Ireland