With the competition increasingly being used merely for experimentation, it was decided that the Free State Shield would now be competed for at the beginning of the season, and in October 1934, Shamrock Rovers won the tournament for a record fifth time, one point ahead of Dolphin. A poor showing in the league race by Rovers, however, along with Shelbourne’s absence from the fray, contributed to a very unfamiliar championship table (the league itself now ran from November to April) for the season, with Dolphin’s unbeaten away record helping them become the fifth Dublin club to lift the league trophy, a point ahead of a gallant St. James’s Gate side (who took 17 of their last 18 points), with newcomers Sligo Rovers in third.
With Irish internationals Billy Jordan (with two) and Fred Horlacher accounting for three of their goals, a thrilling Free State Cup decider saw 10-man Bohemians overcoming Dundalk by four goals to three. Although it later emerged that the Louth club had been fielding Irish League players under assumed names, Dundalk’s 18-year old centre-forward Billy O’Neill (temporarily switched from the full-back position in which he would win 11 international caps) became another player to score a goal in every round of the competition, emulating the achievement of Timothy Jim O’Keeffe in the previous season. It was a season to forget for O’Keeffe and his Cork teammates, however, with 1934’s near double-winners finishing bottom of the Free State League table, taking just three wins from their 18 league outings.
1934-35 was also the first year of a new competition, the Dublin City Cup. Largely introduced to fill up time in a league season now once again being contested by just 10 teams, it initially took place towards the end of the campaign, in the aftermath of the league and with the Free State Cup entering its final stages. Open to Free State League clubs only (and not just to those from Dublin, as the name suggests; it was primarily called the Dublin City Cup to distinguish it from the City Cup competition held north of the border), it was, like the shield, competed for in a “round robin” format in that first season (if a club had had home advantage in a shield fixture, they would have to travel to that opponent’s ground in the Dublin City Cup), before becoming a straight knock-out competition in 1936. As the fourth most prestigious trophy in Free State football, it, like the shield, would eventually come to serve largely as a method for clubs to blood new players. Like the league race, the competition turned into a tussle between Dolphin and St. James’s Gate, with Dolphin emphasising their end-of-season superiority by becoming the inaugural Dublin City Cup winners.
Free State League 1934-35
|St. James’s Gate||18||12||3||3||46||33||27|
League top scorers : Alf Rigby St. James’s Gate, 17 Charles McDaid Sligo Rovers, 16 Waltie Walsh Waterford, 13
Representative match : Free State League 2-1 Welsh League