On the back of a good relationship having been established between the F.A.I.F.S. and the Belgian F.A. in recent times, Bohemians were invited to travel to Belgium in August of 1929 to take part in a pre-season tournament. They registered friendly wins over Charleroi and a ‘Royal Flemish XI’ in advance of the main event, which was called the “Aciéries de’Angleur Tournoi” and was to feature the Dublin club along with three teams from the Liège region. Bohs carried their good form into the competition proper, defeating R.F.C. Tillier by a goal to nil before beating Standard Liège 3-2 and being awarded the trophy.
The top of the league table at the end of December ended up having a somewhat familiar look, with Bohs taking maximum points from their Dalymount Park fixtures to triumph ahead of Shelbourne in second, Shamrock Rovers, and Fordsons (who had this year relocated to Cork’s Mardyke ground) some distance back in fourth. A last-minute David ‘Babby’ Byrne goal saw Shamrock Rovers defeat Brideville (now playing their home games at Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium, having relocated from Richmond Park, Inchicore in late 1929) 1-0 to become the first team to retain the Free State Cup, although Byrne would later admit that he had used his hand to net the all-important goal. Bohemians’ Bill Cleary, meanwhile, set a cup scoring record in his side’s first round clash with Bray Unknowns, when he netted six in the Gypsies’ 7-3 victory over the Wicklow side.
Shelbourne v Shamrock Rovers in a Free State Cup first round replay
Shelbourne’s victory in the Free State Shield after a 2-0 win over second-placed Shamrock Rovers in the penultimate round meant a continuation of the strangehold that they, Rovers and Bohemians had had on that competition since its 1922 inception. The tail-end of the 1929-30 season saw the introduction of a new competition for those three clubs to concern themselves with, the Leinster Football Association launching the first edition of the L.F.A. President’s Cup, which was to be competed for this year by the top four Leinster-based Free State League clubs. The competition got off to a less than ideal start, however, with Shelbourne (who had defeated Brideville) and Shamrock Rovers (who had defeated Bohs) drawing the first President’s Cup final and the intended replay never actually taking place. Each Free State League club was present and correct for the beginning of the 1930-31 season, with the existing teams now being joined by Waterford A.F.C., and also Dolphin F.C. (a club founded by the Dublin Butchers’ Social Union), meaning that a 12-team structure would be in place for the beginning of the new campaign.
Free State League 1929-30
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League top scorers : Johnny Ledwidge Shelbourne, 16 Stephen McCarthy Bohemians, 13 David Byrne Shamrock Rovers, 11 Fred Horlacher Bohemians, 11
Representative matches : Free State League 1-6 Irish League, Welsh League 6-1 Free State League