1950-51 League of Ireland season

People may have wondered if the 1950s, like the previous decade, were about to be dominated by a Cork club, with 17 home points from a possible 18 helping Cork Athletic to claim a League of Ireland (captain Florrie Burke collecting his sixth championship medal) and F.A.I. Cup double in 1951. Sligo Rovers, having finished bottom of both the shield and Dublin City Cup, mounted a surprising championship challenge, and only for missing a penalty in a goalless draw with Transport in their last league game, would probably have forced a play-off for the title. Cork Athletic, meanwhile, needed a replay with Shelbourne (whose Tommy Carberry joined Cork’s Paddy O’Leary in scoring in every round of the competition) to make up for the cup final disappointment of the previous year, a Johnny Vaughan goal being the difference between the sides. Four days later they beat Waterford 3-1 at the Mardyke to move a point clear at the top of the table, and dash Sligo’s hopes of a second League of Ireland championship.

Holders Drumcondra took the honours in the last ever “round robin” version of the Dublin City Cup, and (eventually) followed it up with victory in the League of Ireland Shield to become the first club to capture both trophies during the course of the same season. When the final round of shield matches was completed in early December, a three-way tie at the top seemed to have created the need for a round of play-offs, but in a very tightly-packed season, a semi-final and final format was instead opted for, with Transport awarded a ‘bye’ and Drumcondra set to play against Shamrock Rovers in a semi-final match-up. The final was initially scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day, but a hastily arranged league representative match against a team from Germany’s ‘Hessen League’ (the usual March 17th meeting with the Irish League had been cancelled due to a new dispute between the F.A.I. and the I.F.A.) ended up taking place on that date, and a build-up of fixtures in subsequent weeks meant that it would be a Wednesday evening in the middle of April before Drums and Rovers finally played out a 1-1 draw. It had been a fractious match, however, and when the same referee was appointed to take charge of the replay, the Hoops withdrew from the competition in protest. With both clubs’ league programmes by now having been wrapped up (the Tolka Park club finished third to ensure their sixth top three finish in a row), two Dessie Glynn goals helped Drums beat the Busmen 3-1 in the final.

At the end of the season all 10 League of Ireland sides would travel to England to take part in an epic series of friendly matches that was taking place as part of the 1951 ‘Festival of Britain’ event (seen as a promotion / celebration of the culture of the U.K.). Clubs from all over Europe were invited to play matches against English teams, and the League of Ireland contingent played 33 games in total, against the likes of Oldham Athletic, Tranmere Rovers and Darlington. Four wins and four draws were recorded by the Irish sides, with Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers posting many of the better results.

The 1951-52 close season saw the addition of two new League of Ireland clubs, bringing membership of the league back to 12 for the first time since 1940. A second Cork club, Evergreen United (based at Turner’s Cross), were joined by a fifth Dublin side (a sixth if you include Transport), St. Patrick’s Athletic, a club who had enjoyed extraordinary success in Junior, Intermediate and Leinster Senior League football during the previous 20 years. They won two F.A.I. Intermediate Cups in the late 1940s, and despite beating Transport in the 1948 Leinster Senior Cup final, had been pipped by the Busmen to League of Ireland membership the same year. “Pats” had played their home games at Richmond Park, Inchicore since 1930, but would be required to play at Milltown, Chapelizod Greyhound Stadium and Dalymount Park during the 1950s due to Richmond’s failure to meet the League of Ireland’s ground criteria.

League of Ireland 1950-51

PWDLFAPts
Cork Athletic181224462226
Sligo Rovers181134292525
Drumcondra18873372623
Shelbourne18846372720
Bohemians18765303220
Shamrock Rovers18738333017
Transport18549253614
Dundalk184410354412
Waterford185211284712
Limerick184311274811

League top scorers : Dessie Glynn Drumcondra, 20 Johnny Vaughan Cork Athletic, 14 Martin Colfer Shelbourne, 10 Paddy Gallagher Dundalk, 10 George Gray Sligo Rovers, 10

Representative matches : Scottish League 7-0 League of Ireland, League of Ireland 0-7 Hessen League, League of Ireland 0-1 English League

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