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Posts Tagged ‘Milltown’

Legends live on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a woman so known for her dramatic acting roles, it is fitting that Maureen O’Hara is buried in such a dramatic setting. In Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC, the burial plot of the legendary Hollywood actress is shaded by mature trees, within sight of the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame.

 

Buried alongside her husband Charles Blair – a former Brigadier General in US Air Force – the p
lot is just below Arlington House, once the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

 

On holiday in Washington over Easter, I found myself at Arlington on Good Friday on the day when Rovers were commemorating 30 years since the loss of Milltown.

 

O’Hara’s father Charles Fitzsimons was a part-owner of the Hoops from the 1930s and so O’Hara was a regular attendee at Milltown and never lost her love for the Hoops.

 

On the morning I’m there, the stars and stripes flag flys at half mast on the hill behind her grave. With a funeral taking place not far away, amongst the startling bright rows of white gravestones, the sound of a lone bugler playing taps drifts on the wind.

 

O’Hara travelled far from her days growing up in Ranelagh. She became the ‘Queen of Technicolor’ in the golden age of Hollywood. While her allegiance to Rovers is not mentioned on the reverse of the gravestone, her lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film & Television Academy is noted just above her honorary Oscar she received in 2014.

 

Later that weekend I swap my fix of League of Ireland football for a slice of something as American as apple pie – a baseball game. The Washington Nationals play in a stadium opened in the same season that the Hoops moved to Tallaght.

 

Playing in Navy Yard, the ‘Nats’ are the latest team to represent the American capital in Major League Baseball. The franchise system in baseball means that many supporters over the years have lost not just their stadiums but have lost their teams to another city.

 

Washington’s original team were the Senators who won the 1924 World Series while playing at Griffith Stadium. The venue also played home to the Washington Redskins American Football team for 24 years. It was a stadium where at some stage every American President from William Taft to John F Kennedy threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Soon after the Senators moved to Minnesota in 1962, the Stadium was demolished and became the site for Howard University Hospital. Just like at Milltown, tere is a monument to the famous stadium at its former location but one that is a bit different than a simple plaque.The Glenmalure Park monument in Milltown is topped off by a football and there is a baseball theme to the Griffith Stadium memorial.

 

If you stroll through the hospital from the main entrance and turn right, you will see the marker. Griffith Stadium may be gone but it is not forgotten as beside the gents toilets, a home plate and batter box is marked out on the corridor watched over by photos of the venue.

 

Published in Hoops Scene – Shamrock Rovers match programme v Dundalk (5 May 2017)

 

 

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From fan to player to fan – Interview with four in a row winner John Coady

This is the story of a boy who stood on the terraces in Milltown supporting Shamrock Rovers. The tale of the player who pulled on the famous green and white hooped jersey of the team he supported to score on his league debut. He would become part of Hooped folklore, a key member of the fabled four in a row side. He would win six league titles, two doubles with Rovers, a treble with Derry City, and was part of the last team to lift the league trophy in Dundalk prior to their title win last season. His playing career took him to the top flight of English football with Chelsea and he is now back where it all started – watching Shamrock Rovers as a fan. This is the story of John Coady.

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“My whole family were all Rovers supporters,” said Coady when Hoops Scene asked him about growing up a Hoops fan. “My three brothers went and occasionally my mother and one of my sisters would go. They were avid Rovers fans in the 1960s and followed them all over Ireland – here, there and everywhere.

 

“It was hilarious but when I was really young I wouldn’t be allowed go to Glenmalure Park because it was too crowded! They were getting 15 or 16,000 at every game in the ‘60s. My first Rovers match was around 1966 when my brother Tommy brought me.”

 

As a 21-year-old, Coady was playing with YMCA in the Leinster Senior League when a friend of his arranged for him to get a trial with Rovers’ reserves. “My friend Martin drove me up one Tuesday and in I went through the big green gates. That night being a Rovers fans I automatically went to the home dressing room to strip for training. That was where the first team changed. I walked along and couldn’t see a gap till I saw a gap beside Harry Kenny. I sat down and then I didn’t move for six years!”

 

John Giles was managing Rovers at that time and Coady quickly moved from playing in the reserves and into the first team by 1982. “John gave me my start. It was a very quick the transition between getting onto the B team and playing a first team game. I got a great break early on when Gilsey saw something in me and he put me in which was great. He wasn’t afraid to do that.

 

“We played a League Cup match against Drogheda in Tolka mid-week. That didn’t go so well as I missed what I thought were some reasonable chances that I would have put away. I was playing as a striker at the time. We were away to UCD the following Sunday and he didn’t tell me anything other than turn up. I turned up at Belfield and he named the team and I was in. I scored two on my debut in a 2-2 draw.”

 

Coady soon settled in to becoming a fixture in a Rovers side and under new manager Jim McLoughlin that squad would make League of Ireland history, winning four league titles in a row starting in the 1983/84 season. “Looking around the dressingroom the quality of players we had was fantastic. It was a privilege for me to be there as all I ever wanted to do was pull on a green and white jersey in a cup final. So to do that, win a couple of FAI Cups and then to win four leagues was extraordinary. There were no weak links in that team at all.

 

“Jim was brilliant for me. He is a fantastic man. You’d have to say the most successful manager in the League of Ireland. He knew the game inside out. His depth of knowledge of opposing teams was extraordinary. He was meticulous in the preparation. He would be able to tell you about any team that was coming up.

 

“We had a meeting every Saturday morning after training in Milltown. We would discuss the side we were going to play the next day and he would have all the details about them.”

 

The Hoops would dominate in Ireland during that period but European success would prove illusive. The match against Celtic in the European Cup in 1986 felt like one that got away as Rovers lost the first leg in Glenmalure Park to a late Murdo MacLeod goal. “It was disappointing as I thought we had enough in our armour to beat them that night. They were a good side but in Milltown we had enough about us to win the game but we got done by a sucker punch. They were great occasions. I loved the European games. They were very special nights in Milltown.”

 

A few months later the opportunity arose for Coady to join Chelsea and he admits that it was a difficult decision to make the make. “I was playing for Rovers and living the dream. I was winning every week. Dermot Keely was the manager and he rang me and told me they were interested. It wasn’t an easy decision and I was a bit reluctant. I was working in the post office and it was just me, my brother and my mother in the house.

 

“I said I would go over and meet them and see what they had to say. They told me what was on offer. I rang my Mum and we had a 10 minute discussion. She said ‘look, it is something you’ve always wanted, so you might as well go for it’.

 

Last Sunday QPR got caught by a late Cesc Fabregas goal as Chelsea earned a 1-0 win in Loftus Road. 28 years ago this very weekend, John Coady made his debut for Chelsea in the same fixture and, like on his league debut with Rovers, found the back of the net. “I scored in a 1-1 draw against QPR beating David Seaman in goal with a cracking volley from about three yards past him!”

 

Coady made 19 appearances for Chelsea across two seasons but has mixed views about his experiences at Stamford Bridge. “The highlight without question came on the first day when I scored. It is every schoolboys dream to be a professional footballer. Many try but few are chosen. So to get the opportunity to play there for those years was great.

 

“I was never a Chelsea fan though. I worked for them but never really like them. I have no time for them at all. I don’t really pay any heed to Premiership football at all. It leaves me cold.”

 

His move to London meant he departed before the drama of the controversial sale of Milltown. “I hadn’t heard anything about it and as it turned out I’m glad I was away when it happened. I couldn’t understand it looking from the outside as I was then but if I’d have been on the inside it would have been a huge wrench. It would have been awful. It is only in the last few years that the club recovered.”

 

These days Coady can be found in Tallaght on match nights sitting in the stands supporting the team he used to play for, cheering on Pat Fenlon’s team who have made an excellent unbeaten start to the domestic campaign. “The results haven’t been going our way in the last few seasons. Pat (Fenlon) will find his own team and everything takes time but people need to be patient and things will be alright.”
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Later in the year, European football will return to Tallaght and Coady gets a chance to enjoy the experience these days as a fan. He has made a number of European away trips in recent years. He remembers fondly the matches in 2010 and 2011 including the monsoon in Modena and the supporters singsong sheltering out of the rain at half-time.

 

“I love going up to Tallaght for the matches. I’ve had a season ticket since we moved there. We’ve had some great European ties. 2011 was an extraordinary season. The Juventus adventure the year before was brilliant in Modena. I’m still drying out from the night! Those antics at half-time were fantastic. They are the things that happen on the European trips. Sometimes I think it is better to be a fan on these trips!”

 

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Published in Hoops Scene 7 (2015) Shamrock Rovers v Drogheda United

Ringsend Rover returns to see the Hoops

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Tonight Shamrock Rovers are welcoming many German football fans who have stayed on in Dublin after last night’s international game in Lansdowne Road. Also at last night’s Brazil 2014 qualifier, and present here tonight in Tallaght Stadium, is former Ireland international Dave Langan.

Langan published his autobiography last month and was signing copies of his book here at the stadium this evening as well as doing a Q&A session in the Glenmalure Suite ahead of kick off. He is currently on a two-week book signing tour but the one signing he was most looking forward to was this evening’s one. That is because Langan is a life long fan of Shamrock Rovers, a club he almost signed for late in his playing career.

Langan grew up in Ringsend where Rovers were founded. The club has a long rivalry with Shelbourne, who were also founded in the area. It meant the Ringsend rivalry was in the Langan household as, while Dave supported the Hoops, his father was actually a Shels fan!

“Rovers were my club from day one,” said Langan when he spoke to Hoops Scene recently about his support for Rovers, his playing career and his difficulties away from football – all of which he has chronicled in detail in his autobiography written with Trevor Keane and Alan Conway.

“My Da was Shels but me and my mate used to go up to Milltown every week when there was home matches and we followed them all over Ireland. We used to have a bit of messing between me Da and me -between Shels and Rovers!

“I used to walk up to Milltown from Ringsend, leaving about an hour and a half ahead of the match to get up there in plenty of time to see Johnny Fullam, Frank O’Neill and Mick Leech. My hero was Mick Leech. Some of the goals he got would take your breath away. I loved watching him play.”

Langan soon went from watching football to playing football at a high level moving to Derby County as a teenager. “Brian Clough signed me as an apprentice from Cherry Orchard,” said Langan. The main lesson Langan learned from the charismatic manager was, whatever you do, do not to lose the ball! “The worst thing you could do, was give the ball away, as you knew you’d be in for it!”

It was during his time at Derby that Langan made his debut for the Irish national team in a 4-2 win over Turkey. Having grown up so close to Lansdowne Road, it is no surprise to hear how proud he was to play for Ireland.

“Every game was great in Lansdowne in front of that crowd and the great atmosphere. I loved it when you walked out and then the national anthem was played. Your lungs would burst and the hairs would go up on the back of your neck. It was unreal.” His international caps are still located close to Lansdowne Road. “My mother has it all in the house (in Ringsend). My caps are well looked after by her.”

In 1980, the year he signed for Birmingham City for a then club record of £150,000, he played for Ireland against Argentina and their famous number 10. “Playing against Maradona was very special,” admitted Langan. “It was his balance that was unreal. I’d never seen anything like it. He would go over tackles that would kill others and he’d just skip away from them. I clattered him a few times and he just looked at me as if to stay ‘Is that the best you got!?!’

The following year, in the famous 3-2 home win over France, Langan suffered an injury that has plagued him ever since. That knee injury would also cost him the chance of playing for Shamrock Rovers.
“Noel King, who was managing Rovers at the time, asked me did I fancy coming over to play a few games. He said he’d get me a job but my injury was too severe and I couldn’t go. Rovers have been my club since I was a kid. I was distraught I couldn’t do it.”

That missed opportunity came at the end of Langan’s career following a successful spell with Oxford United. ““My favourite time in club football was with Oxford. I scored a goal against Shrewsbury that brought us up to the division which is now the English Premier League and we also won the Milk Cup.”

That 1986 Milk Cup or League Cup Final was at a time when the League Cup had a much higher status than now, possibly due to the fact that English football clubs were banned from Europe following the Heysel Stadium disaster. It meant Oxford missed out on Europe the same year following that Cup final win over QPR. Winning that game in Wembley was a real career highlight for Langan.

“I was a young guy from Ringsend used to playing on the Dodder pitches and here I was playing at Wembley. It was hard to sink in. When you are a young boy, you see the cup finals, the players walking up the steps and you wonder what that is like. You want to do that yourself and then when it happens to you, you are so proud. I can still remember walking up those steps, being handed the medal and the roar of the crowd when our captain lifted the cup. It just stays with you forever.”

The highs of his time with Oxford United are counterbalanced with lows for Langan in later life. He had difficulties with depression, alcohol and homeless after the end of his playing career; a situation he tells with great honesty in his autobiography. However, with the help of friends and family, his life is in a much better place now.

This year he had his tenth operation on his right knee and he is facing surgery on his left knee next year. “I had a new right knee put in back in April. I’m going in to get a new knee on my left soon. The right knee is still extremely stiff but as time goes on that will ease. I don’t have the severe pain in the right knee that I had before the operation. It is an awful lot better now. The knees were both knackered. The right one kept collapsing on me so that’s the one that was operated on first.”

Tonight he gets a chance to see Rovers play in Tallaght Stadium for the very first time but he is very familiar with all the goings on at Rovers. “I follow the matches. I try and get text updates every Friday night but sometimes that is difficult if I am at work. I can’t wait for the matches to be on. It is like being a kid, I still get excited by the games!”

That level of enthusiasm for Rovers was clear in talking to Langan ahead of tonight’s game. It means a lot for him to be here in Tallaght watching the Hoops in action. “This will be my first ever visit to the stadium which looks fantastic. I can’t wait, I’m wishing the days away!”

Published in Hoops Scene, Issue 19/2012, Shamrock Rovers v Derry City

Hoops mark Milltown 25th anniversary

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7856/hoops-mark-milltown-25th-anniversary/

Article for extratime.ie

This week marked the 25th anniversary of Shamrock Rovers’ last game in Milltown. On Friday to commemorate that last game, Shamrock Rovers and their club’s Heritage Trust organised a walk from the monument outside Milltown to Rovers’ new home in Tallaght.

The walk began with a small ceremony in Milltown that was addressed by former Rovers player Mick Byrne, scorer of the last Rovers goal in Milltown, in front of a crowd of around 200 club supporters. The fans then set out on the 10km walk to Tallaght Stadium ahead of that evening’s game against Dundalk.

Extratime.ie spoke with Mick Byrne and asked him about his memories of Milltown.
“I used to walk through the gates here on Sunday and know we were going to win the match,” recalled Byrne who was an integral part of the Rovers team that won four-in-a-row league titles in Milltown in the 1980’s. “My fondest memory is just coming here and scoring goals here.”

The journey on Friday night took two hours to complete as the fans walked from Milltown through Dartry, Rathgar, Terenure, Templogue before arriving in Tallaght Stadium. The highly controversial decision by the Kilcoyne family to sell Glenmalure Park in 1987 meant it was a 22-year journey for the football club to get from Milltown to Tallaght.

Addressing the crowd on Friday evening was James Cooke who was involved in the Keep Rovers at Milltown (KRAM) campaign and is now a member of the Rovers Heritage Trust. “When those gates closed 25 years ago, this football club was effectively thrown on the scrap heap of Irish football,” said Cooke. “To have survived 22 years not knowing from season to season where we were going to play was a miracle. This football club is stronger now than at any other period in our history.”

At different stages after leaving Milltown, Rovers played games in Tolka Park, Dalymount Park, RDS, Morton Stadium, Richmond Park and even played one home game 200km from Milltown in Turners Cross in Cork. Rovers eventually played their first game in Tallaght three years ago.

When the club organised a ceremony at Milltown for the 20th anniversary back in 2007, at the time it remained to be seen would Rovers even get to Tallaght as the GAA had taken out a High Court Judicial Review over access to the stadium. This 25th anniversary has seen some ghosts laid to rest as in the five years since that last ceremony, the club is now firmly embedded in Tallaght Stadium, playing in front of crowds in excess of 3,000 and are back-to-back League of Ireland champions.

In the month that Louis Kilcoyne died, the club are in as strong a position as they have been since Kilcoyne sold Glenmalure Park for housing. So can the club close the chapter on the controversy of the sale of Milltown? “I think we should do now,” said Mick Byrne. “It is unfortunate that it happened at the time. But I think the club is in a much better place now and we have to get over it.”

When the fans arrived in Tallaght after the walk, the club laid on some drinks in the ‘Glenmalure Suite’ function room in the stadium as reward for making the 10km trek to Tallaght. On the pitch Rovers rewarded the fans with an impressive 6-0 victory over Dundalk.

Four Continent Football: Part 4 – Europe (Shamrock Rovers’ first game in Tallaght)

Four Continent Football: Part 4 – Europe (Shamrock Rovers’ first game in Tallaght)

It seemed over a two decade period that Shamrock Rovers had played home games in the four corners of the world even if that wasn’t actually the case. This time three years ago everyone at the club was building up for probably the biggest home game ever – our first proper home match since the eviction from Milltown back in 1986.

I’ve reminised recently about attending football matches across four continents including Asia, South America and Africa but in this final blogpost of Four Continent Football, we are in Europe and I’m bringing it back home for Shamrock Rovers’ first game in Tallaght.

Since leaving Milltown, it was only really in the time period at the RDS (1990 to 1996) that it felt like they were home games for Rovers. In the years since Milltown, home matches were played in various grounds rented off our rivals including playing in Tolka Park, Dalymount Park, Richmond Park and, probably most embarrasingly, Turners Cross. That night in Cork when the Hoops ran out to play a home game over 250km from Dublin not actually wearing hoops but their away strip, was one of the very many low points that has surrounded the club during my time as a supporter.

The build-up to certain big games can seem like years but the build up to Rovers’ first game in Tallaght was that, it was over a decade in the making. Planning Permission had been granted in 1997, the sod had been turned with the builders coming on the site in 2000, they came off site the following year, and finally come back on the site in May 2008. In that period Rovers went bust, had the fans take over the club and got relegated. South Dublin County Council had taken ownership of the site and a lengthy court case had ensued when the GAA tried unsuccesfully to get their grubby little hands on the keys to access the stadium.

When the 2009 fixtures came out, we could finally see in black and white Rovers were finally scheduled to play in Tallaght. There was symmtery to the fixture with Sligo Rovers providing the opposition for the first game in Tallaght, just as they had done for the final game in Milltown. The first game in the RDS back in 1990 was awful and half of the 20,000 crowd didn’t come back for the next game. I was somewhat worried that the game would be an anti-climax but it wasn’t. It was everything I’d hoped for and more. There were goals, there was drama and there was a Shamrock Rovers win. We’ve kept coming back for more ever since.

That day so many people came up to me in work and wished me and the club well. It was one of those days where it was very hard to concentrate on anything but the match. At around 4 o’clock my boss told me to head off. He knew what it meant for me. Everyone knew what it meant. I got countless e-mail and texts from friends telling me to enjoy the game and enjoy it I would. When I got into stadium, people were hugging each other. This was the moment we had dreamed about for so long and now it was a reality. People were walking around trying to take it all in with a permanent smile on their faces and a ball hadn’t even been kicked at that stage.

As well as being Rovers’ first game in Tallaght, it was Michael O’Neill’s first home game in charge of Rovers. It was a much changed Rovers side with a new strike partnership of Dessie Baker and Gary Twigg. The fans were wondering who this Twigg player was that O’Neill had paid out a transfer fee for to bring from the Scottish Second Division and could he combine with Baker, a player most thought was past it.

It was telling last December when Michael O’Neill took leave of Shamrock Rovers that he spoke about that night. He was asked about what he would remember most from this tenure in Tallaght. He didn’t pick winning one of the three major trophies claimed during his time managing Rovers or one of those amazing nights against a heavyweight of European football like Real Madrid, Juventus, Partizan Belgrade or Spurs. “The most enjoyable night was my first night here at Tallaght, when we beat Sligo,” recalled O’Neill of opening night in the new stadium. “To see the look on the supporters faces after being 20 years on the road and just to see what it meant for them was fantastic.”
The passion and noise generated as the teams came out was almost overwhelming and many a tear was shed on the night. 22 years of pent up frustration at the loss of Milltown and a home of our own, spilled out in a wall of noise when the teams emerged. I certainly let out a primiordal roar anyway!

It was a horrible night weather wise in Tallaght but in every other way it was perfect. If we were wondering would Twigg do the business in Tallaght, we weren’t wondering much longer after the opening period of the game. First Twigg had a goal dissallowed. Then after 18 minutes we saw what we now know as classic Gary Twigg. He got a sniff of the ball in the box and scored. It seemed that as soon as he swiviled and got his shot away over his shoulder, the ball was in the back of the net and he was celebrating in front of the Ultras.

On opening night, there was only one stand constructed in the stadium and it was filled to 3,500 capacity and probably a bit more! In front of the live TV cameras, Shamrock Rovers searched out a second goal early in the second half and got it. Ollie Cahill made a great run down the left and found Dessie Baker whose finish put the Hoops 2-0 in front. The Baker-Twigg strikeforce would continue to do damage during the rest of the season with Rovers finishing runner’s up in the league at the end of the year.

This wasn’t an exhibition game though and Sligo did not come just to make up the numbers. The home side had to earn their win and there was some nervous moments toward the end of the game following Gavin Peer’s 82nd minute goal for Sligo. The Hoops never make it easy but had to go an earn that win on opening night. The celebrations at the final whistle continued long into the night. The win, our first home win in over two decades, was a long time coming. We were home.
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Media Watch – Milltown & Modena

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Liam Mackey was in nostalgic mode in today’s Irish Examiner. With the new Lansdowne opening its door for football for the first time tomorrow, he was asked to reflect on his own favourite sporting haunt – and how it has changed over the years. He wrote about Milltown and picked up on a 12 year olds tale of the loss of the famous ground:

Supporters protested and politicians postured but, after a final game against Sligo Rovers on April 14, 1987, the gorgeous old stadium was first colonised by weeds and then succumbed to the wrecking ball. The supporters group KRAM (Keep Rovers At Milltown) fought and lost an often bitter battle but even as Rovers began their wandering years around the football grounds of Dublin, one supporter did his best to keep Milltown at home.

In ‘We Are Rovers’, Eoghan Rice’s splendid oral history of the club, Macdara Ferris tells the poignant tale.

“I dug up a bit of the pitch and stuck it in a crisp bag. I kept it in a Chinese takeaway dish for around three years. I used to water it regularly so it was still growing and I put little Subbuteo men on it. Unfortunately, one day I dropped something and it hit the shelf that I kept the grass on and a part of Glenmalure Park flew across the room and fell into countless bits. I tried putting it back together but it was gone.”

Gone but not forgotten.

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/kfcwqleycwid/rss2/#ixzz0wFPQibXI

Meanwhile Mark McCadden wrote in the Star of the expectation (and thirst) of Shamrock Rovers fans in Modena ahead of the Juventus v Rovers game in the Europa League.

2009: The end of a Stadium Odyssey

February 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Article for Shamrock Rovers match day programme against Cork March 2009

April 12th 1997 was a sad day for Shamrock Rovers Football Club and its fans.  This weekend marks the 22nd year anniversary of the last game in Glenmalure Park which brought the curtain down on Shamrock Rovers playing in Milltown.  Happily for the club, last month saw the Hoops play their first home game in Tallaght after a 22 year stadium odyssey.

No Irish football club in recent history has been as synonymous with their stadium as Shamrock Rovers have been.  When the name Shamrock Rovers is mentioned, some people may think of the record 15 league titles and 24 FAI Cups in our possession.  However, most will think of the sale of Milltown and the Tallaght Stadium saga.  Over the past decade, if Rovers fans had a euro for every time somebody asked them “What is happening with that stadium in Tallaght?” the club would have some very rich benefactors.  The stadium nightmare that fans, who are now the club owners, have endured is one that we have only now just woken up from.

The journey to Tallaght began with the eviction from Milltown in 1987.  The disgraceful sale of Glenmalure Park by the Kilcoyne family spelt disaster for Shamrock Rovers.  The club moved to Tolka Park for the next season but a boycott of the ground by fans forced the Kilcoynes to sell the club.  The new owners brought Rovers to Dalymount Park temporarily before the Hoops settled in the RDS in 1990.  Over 22,000 fans packed into the Ballsbridge venue for the opening game but Rovers couldn’t hang on to those crowds in the long term.   We were to win our only league title since the sale of Milltown during that six year tenure in the RDS.

It was in 1997 that Shamrock Rovers began to look at leaving the RDS, after demolition works left a one sided stadium in the Dublin 4 venue, and move to a stadium to be constructed in Tallaght.   Rovers, now playing again in Tolka Park, negotiated a lease for land in Tallaght from South Dublin County Council (SDCC).  It was the beginning of a planning and legal battle that would last a further eleven years.  Planning permission was granted in January 1998 but this was then appealed.  It took a further two years before the first sod was turned in the stadium by the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, with full construction beginning in autumn of that year.  The club ran into financial difficulty in November 2001 and work on the stadium ceased.  During this time Rovers played in Morton Stadium, Tolka Park, Richmond Park and even played a home game in Cork against tonight’s opposition before moving on to Dalymount Park.

The game in Cork in autumn 2003 proved a real low point for the club.  Evicted from Richmond Park, fans were disgusted, having travelled 250 km to see their team play in a home game, to see the team emerge in their away jersey rather than green and white hoops.  The relationship with the board and the fans group, the 400 Club, began to become frayed.  The owners applied for an 18 month extension to the planning permission on the stadium, which had now lapsed.  This was refused by SDCC as they saw no prospect of work resuming.   SDCC sought repossession of the site in January 2005.  The club was in financial meltdown and in April 2005, the High Court appointed an Examiner to prevent liquidation of the club.   After all the property speculators drifted away, it was the fans group, the 400 Club that emerged with ownership of the club.  This was a three year period when Rovers fans were reading High Court reports as well as football match reports.

In July 2005, SDCC, in consultation with the fans, now club owners, pressed ahead with plans to complete the stadium with Rovers as their anchor tenant.  A new barrier was to emerge at this time.  The GAA, through Thomas Davis GAA club, objected to the fact that the stadium size did not allow for senior GAA games.  Pressure from the GAA saw the local councillors go against the SDCC County Manager’s recommendations and vote to alter the stadium to accommodate a GAA pitch.  However, the Department of Sport stated they would not fund this alteration as the existing structure would have to be modified and the capacity would be reduced to 4,500.  In February 2006, as Rovers returned to play another season in Tolka Park, the Councillors voted to reverse their previous decision and proceed with the original soccer sized stadium.  In December 2006, Thomas Davis, took out a High Court Judicial Review of that decision.  Rovers fans at this stage were beginning to wonder whether the stadium site was cursed with an Indian Burial ground.

Thomas Davis had the full arsenal of the GAA behind them in the case to prevent the youth of Tallaght from being raised “on a diet of association football” (as they stated in their submission to the High Court).   The Dublin GAA County Board, the GAA Director General and then GAA president Nickey Brennan were all vocal in supporting the Thomas Davis stance that the stadium in Tallaght should be made “big enough to accommodate GAA matches”.  In December 2007, Justice Roderick Murphy ruled in favour of SDCC, and Shamrock Rovers, and against Thomas Davis.  It is a decision the GAA over a year later are still not happy with complaining in their recently published Annual Report that the “decision remain(s) a huge bone of contention within the GAA”.  However, they chose not to appeal to the Supreme Court so six months after the decision works began again on the Stadium.  When the builders returned at the start of May 2008, they didn’t quite know what to make of it as Rovers fans descended on the Stadium to see with their own eyes that construction had begun again.

March 13th 2009 was a momentous day for Shamrock Rovers Football Club and its fans.  The opening game in Tallaght was an amazing occasion.  The passion and noise generated as the teams came out was almost overwhelming and many a tear was shed on the night.  22 years of pent up frustration at the loss of Milltown and a home of our own, spilled out in a wall of noise.  As our new Umbro home jersey says, “Glenmalure Park gone but not forgotten”.  The sale of Milltown will no longer be a millstone around the football club’s neck.  Our new base in Tallaght is the beginning of a new chapter over 22 years in the making.  Let us hope that the return to a permanent home ground will see the return of silverware to the club to parade around the new stadium.