Controversy reigned at the beginning of the 1946-47 season, when Shamrock Rovers attempted to avail of the services of Scottish international forward Jock Dodds, who had gained huge acclaim by scoring 255 league goals for Blackpool over the previous five seasons. Within a context of the other “home” associations still not recognising League of Ireland player registration lists, Blackpool demanded compensation, as Dodds was apparently still on the books of the Lancashire club, and valued at somewhere in the region of £8,000. Keen to make sure that their clubs did not miss out on big transfer fees in the future, all of the British and Irish associations finally agreed to recognise each other’s player registrations, bringing an end to the “open door” situation (where players who were out of contract could be signed by a club from another jurisdiction without the need of a transfer fee) that League of Ireland clubs had been able to avail of (and sometimes, been negatively impacted by) for the last two decades. As it happened, Dodds only remained with Rovers for about six weeks, scoring four goals across a number of appearances in the Dublin City Cup and the League of Ireland Shield, though his presence in the games attracted huge crowds, and Rovers would also garner a small fee after the player completed his transfer from Blackpool to Everton.
Another club to bring in a big cross-channel name in the build-up to this season was Shelbourne (now managed by former Irish international captain Charlie Turner), with former Liverpool and Chelsea outside left Alf Hanson proving a very telling acquisition. His goals helped the Reds take their second Dublin City Cup with a point to spare over Drumcondra (who scored 30 goals and conceded 24 in their seven Dublin City Cup games), and this proved to be the situation in the league race as well, with Shamrock Rovers finishing in third to ensure the first all-Dublin top three since 1930. In fact, a Rovers victory over Shelbourne on the last day of the season would have seen the title go to Milltown (a draw would have forced a three-way play-off), but Shels won the Glenmalure Park fixture 2-1 to make sure of the championship. Drumcondra (managed by a former Bohs and Shels player called Dickie Giles, who was the father of future Leeds United and Ireland great Johnny) did have something to celebrate in retaining the League of Ireland Shield (they finished one point ahead of Dundalk), but ended the season with another set of runners-up medals, after a 4-1 aggregate defeat by Shamrock Rovers in the final of the Intercity Cup.
With a largely full-time team, made up of 11 Cork-born players, fourth-placed Cork United won a cup final replay (in front of a record low crowd of just 5,519) against Bohemians in an effort to atone for the fact that, this year, the league trophy would not be making its way to the Mardyke. 10 of the side had previously won international or inter-league honours, and Seanie McCarthy and Tommy Moroney (who himself would win the first of 12 international caps as a West Ham player in 1948) scored the goals in United’s 2-0 victory. Meanwhile, the League of Ireland’s admission into the International Inter-League Board in the aftermath of the Jock Dodds affair paved the way for a first ever meeting of the League of Ireland and English League representative sides in April of 1947. A Dalymount Park crowd of 25,000 watched the visitors inflict a 3-1 defeat on the home team.
League of Ireland 1946-47
League top scorers : Paddy Coad Shamrock Rovers, 11 Alf Hanson Shelbourne, 11 Seanie McCarthy Cork United, 10 Mick O’Flanagan Bohemians, 10
Representative matches : League of Ireland 2-2 Northern Regional League, Northern Regional League 0-1 League of Ireland, League of Ireland 1-3 English League