1932-33 Free State League season

While Shamrock Rovers had taken a clean sweep of league, cup and shield during the 1931-32 season, Dundalk had won all three of the sides’ meetings, and buoyed by their first league victories over Bohemians and Shelbourne this season, became the first regional club to win the Free State championship, a full five points clear of Shamrock Rovers. The Milltown club (who returned the favour this year by handing the Louth side their only two league defeats) could more than take comfort, however, from a second consecutive Free State Shield (with the competition held over two rounds for the first time since 1922, Rovers finished two points ahead of the new league champions), and an incredible fifth Free State Cup in succession.

With Bohemians being dispatched in the cup semi-finals for the third year in a row, Shamrock Rovers defeated Dolphin in the final for the second successive season, the Crumlin side seeing a three-goal lead (Irish international George Lennox had scored two penalties for Dolphin) slip to allow Rovers force a replay, which they won on an emphatic 3-0 scoreline. Two goals from Jimmy Daly and one from David Byrne (who this season became the first player to register 100 Free State league goals, before being transferred to Manchester United) did the trick in the second game, and William ‘Sacky’ Glen, John Joe Flood and John ‘Tipp’ Burke each collected their fifth Free State Cup winner’s medals. It was not until a 2-1 defeat to St. James’s Gate in a first round replay in the following year’s competition that the Hoops’ remarkable 28-game unbeaten Free State Cup run would finally come to an end.

Off the field, the government’s 1932 budget had included the creation of a new “entertainment tax” for all outdoor events, with Free State League clubs now having to part with roughly a fifth of all gate receipts. Clubs were already required to pay a 5% share of gate receipts to the league management committee, so the new tax, along with the after-effects of the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression (the Free State’s economic war with Britain was also in session), ensured difficult financial times for many clubs during the early 1930s. Many of them increased admission prices to offset the loss, and the Football Association of the Irish Free State took the opportunity to criticise the new tax in a June 1932 statement that also happened to announce a ban on southern clubs from playing any matches against clubs from north of the border. Disagreements between the F.A.I.F.S. and the I.F.A. over the selection of players for international games had yet to be properly resolved, and the ban (which would last until 1937) was intended to remain in place until the Dublin-based body received “its just share in the use of the name Ireland in international matches”. The F.A.I.F.S. were forced to flex their muscles again a few months later, when betting and bookmaking were reported to have been openly taking place at the Cork Bohemians vs (Dublin) Bohemians match at Ballintemple Greyhound Stadium. A ban on betting was announced by the governing body, but the Cork club escaped further censure and the 3-1 opening day win ultimately helped them to finish one point (and two places) ahead of their Dublin namesakes in the Free State League table.

Free State League 1932-33

Shamrock Rovers181125483224
Bray Unknowns18675292919
St. James’s Gate18819394117
Cork Bohemians18468303814

League top scorers : George Ebbs St. James’s Gate, 20 Tommy Doyle Shamrock Rovers, 17 Jimmy Rorrison Cork, 16

Representative match : Free State League 2-0 Welsh League

1931-32 Free State League season

Although the shield trophy was now spending its first year outside of Dublin, the wait for a non-Dublin winner of the league itself would go on, with Shamrock Rovers capitalising on late slip-ups by Cork (nicknamed the “League of Nations” due to the amount of non-Irishmen now in their squad) and Dundalk (who were beaten into third by Waterford) to collect their fourth league championship in 1932. The Glenmalure Park side were in fact rampant this year, taking the Free State Shield (they remained unbeaten to finish five clear of nearest challengers Cork) along with a fourth successive Free State Cup to complete a second domestic treble.

A Dolphin side containing a number of Irish internationals were their opponents in the cup final, with another Paddy Moore goal proving enough for Rovers in front of a record crowd of 32,000 (the league’s two highest-scoring teams had played to a record crowd of 30,000 in a league match at the Iveagh Grounds a few months earlier). The Hoops’ success this season was perhaps not so surprising given that they boasted a whole host of Irish internationals of their own (Moore, Byrne, Fullam, Flood, Glen, Burke), as well as a former English international midfielder in Vincent Matthews, and the ultra-prolific Scot Jimmy Smith, who would eventually total some 249 goals in 259 games for Glasgow Rangers. Moore had scored in every round (netting nine goals in total) of a cup competition that had been completed without the need for a single replay, and the final had also been the first to take place on a Sunday (Sundays were gradually becoming the day of choice for most Free State football matches).

Shamrock Rovers win the Free State Cup for the fourth year in a row

Finishing bottom for the third consecutive campaign (they had failed to win a single league, shield or cup match in 1929-30, and had finished bottom of the shield every year since 1927), 1931-32 proved to be the final league season for Jacobs A.F.C., who conceded a whopping 145 goals in their 28 competitive fixtures this year. The Rutland Avenue club’s place was taken by a new Cork side, Cork Bohemians, who had enjoyed Munster Senior Cup and F.A.I. Intermediate Cup success over the course of previous seasons. With Waterford (in spite of their impressive third place finish) and Brideville also absent for the start of 1932-33, the league was now once again made up of 10 club sides.

Free State League 1931-32

Shamrock Rovers221363703432
Bray Unknowns22958455123
St. James’s Gate224216276210

League top scorers : Pearson Ferguson Cork, 21 Jack Forster Waterford, 21 Paddy Moore Shamrock Rovers, 18 Jimmy Shiels Dolphin, 18

Representative match : Welsh League 2-4 Free State League