1949-50 League of Ireland season

Having finished in ninth the previous season, Cork Athletic surprised everyone by being in the shake-up for a league and cup double as the 1949-50 season (one that had been severely impacted by bad weather / bad pitches) drew to a close. Drumcondra (who had earlier won their last five Dublin City Cup matches to take the trophy ahead of Sligo Rovers) were themselves aiming for a championship three-in-a-row, and a 2-1 win for Drums at the Mardyke put them a point clear of Cork at the top of the table, with all 18 of their league games played. Thanks to Athletic becoming embroiled in a cumbersome F.A.I. Cup campaign (they needed six games to reach the final, including a three-match semi-final with non-league St. Patrick’s Athletic), the Leesiders’ last remaining league fixture against bottom club Bohemians was due to take place after their Blue Riband decider, against the league’s newest side, Transport.

Action from the first cup final match between Transport and Cork Athletic

The Corkmen squandered a two-goal lead to allow the Busmen to force a replay, and led twice in the second match before a spectacular, 35-yard overhead kick from Jim Loughran in the last minute of extra-time ensured that the sides would need to meet for a third time. A mere two days before the second replay was scheduled, Athletic faced into their delayed league fixture, and a last-minute Paddy O’Leary goal gave them a dramatic 2-1 win over Bohs, to edge out Drumcondra and capture what was essentially their sixth (but officially their first) League of Ireland championship title. Preparations for the second cup final replay, therefore, were far from ideal, and two Bernie Lester goals helped Transport (who had engaged in a full-time training regime over the course of the saga) to a comfortable 3-1 victory. Athletic’s Jackie O’Reilly (acting as player-manager this year) could at least look back on the season with a great deal of pride, having secured a record sixth League of Ireland championship winner’s medal, and also scoring a goal in the second meeting with Transport to become the all-time record goalscorer (seven goals) in F.A.I. Cup finals, having netted for Cork United in 1941, 1942 and 1943.

League of Ireland football had been rocked by the sudden death of Shamrock Rovers manager Jimmy Dunne in November 1949, at the age of 44. Paddy Coad took over as player-manager, and in a fitting tribute to Dunne, the club rallied to press home their advantage in the League of Ireland Shield, three points ahead of Transport and Drumcondra. Shelbourne (who finished third in the league behind Cork and Drumcondra) became tenants at Rovers’ Glenmalure Park ground at the beginning of the season, and proceeded to remain unbeaten in all their “home” league fixtures, but were defeated by the Hoops themselves in the match where Rovers were listed as being the home side. An unbeaten home record (consisting of two wins and seven draws, in a season where almost a third of matches were drawn), meanwhile, was not enough to prevent Limerick from having to seek re-election for the second time in four seasons, while the end of 1949-50 signalled very worrying times for amateur side Bohemians, the club propping up the League of Ireland table for a third year in succession. However, all 10 member clubs would return to contest the 1950-51 league season.

League of Ireland 1949-50

Cork Athletic181053452625
Sligo Rovers18756283019
Shamrock Rovers18747393018

League top scorers : Dave McCulloch Waterford, 19 Paddy O’Leary Cork Athletic, 13 Johnny Vaughan Cork Athletic, 12

Representative matches : League of Ireland 0-1 Scottish League, English League 7-0 League of Ireland, League of Ireland 3-1 Irish League, Irish League 2-2 League of Ireland

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