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History repeating?

Article in FAI Ford Cup Final match programme (Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers, 14 November 2010)

It is fitting that Shamrock Rovers are playing in the FAI Ford Cup final on the 25 year anniversary of the club’s win over Galway United in the 1985 final. The Hoops dominated Irish football in the mid 1980s winning four league titles in a row and claiming three doubles starting in 1985. It could have been four doubles in a row but they lost in the cup final the previous year to UCD after a replay. Pat Byrne, who captained the Hoops during this historic time, remembers the loss to UCD as a factor in winning the cup in ‘85 and the other trophies in the seasons that followed. “The fact that we had lost the previous year made it even more important to win in 1985,” recalled Byrne this week. “We really felt the pain of that defeat and that result made us stronger helping us to go on to achieve what we did. Having got to the cup final again, we wanted to win it. It made us appreciate it more.”

En route to the 1985 final, Shamrock Rovers beat Bohemians after two replays, won 3-2 away to Drogheda United before overcoming Sligo Rovers 2-1 in the semi final. It was Noel Larkin who scored the only goal of the final ensuring that the FAI Cup went to Milltown. Even though it is 25 years ago and Noel Larkin is on the other side of the world, he can clearly recall the goal. “John Coady did all the work,” said Larkin from his Brisbane home. “He was fantastic on the left side of midfield using his speed to get by people. He got to the by-line sending a low cross to the near post. I got there before the defender and touched it with the outside of my right foot into the net.” Larkin has another indelible image from the day which occurred after they had claimed the trophy. “When I went over to my Dad after, the tears of pride and joy were streaming down his face. That to me is the memory I have of winning the cup that day. It means so much, to so many people, not just the players on the day.”

(Photo George Kelly)

Shamrock Rovers arrive at Aviva Stadium today as league champions and chasing a double just like the side 25 years ago were doing. Back then, the Hoops had wrapped up the league prior to the semi final unlike this season which went all the way to injury time in the very last league game. Pat Byrne believes having claimed the league title ahead of the final, it helped the Milltown based team back then and it should help the Tallaght based team today. “It took the pressure off to be honest as we had won something,” said Byrne, “and now we wanted to win the double. The expectation is high at Rovers and rightly so. It is so important to achieve your first league title so I think it will help them for the cup final this year.”

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