SEÁN CREEDON recalls the day in July 1973 when an all-island ‘Shamrock Rovers’ team took on the
reigning world champions at Lansdowne Road


There aren’t many small islands in the world that can field two senior international teams in men’s and women’s soccer, but the Emerald Isle does just that.

Dinny Hannon from Athlone, who played six times for the IFA team before he was called up by the Irish Free State amateur team for the Paris Olympics in 1924, was the first man to play for the ‘Two Irelands.’

However, Hannon’s name doesn’t appear on the list of dual players as he was never capped at senior level for the Republic of Ireland team, who played their first game in 1926. Confusing yes, but that’s our history.

In total 36 players have been capped at senior level for Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland, the last being Alex Bruce, who won two caps for The Republic in 2007/08 and two for Northern Ireland in 2013/14.

Dubliners Con Martin and Johnny Carey, both won 36 caps for the Two Ireland’s. Martin, who also played Gaelic football for Dublin, won his first two caps in goal for The Republic on a tour of Iberia in 1946. Con won 30 caps for The Republic and six for Northern Ireland. Carey won 29 caps for The Republic and seven for Northern Ireland.
Peter Farrell is only one behind Martin and Carey. The former Everton star won 28 caps for The Republic and seven for Northern Ireland.

Up until the early fifties players born on the island of Ireland could play for Northern Ireland or The Free State, but then FIFA put an end to that practice and ruled that the southern team should be officially known as The Republic of Ireland. Our first official game as The Republic of Ireland was a 2-0 win over Norway at Dalymount Park on November 7, 1954.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own