In the 1947 the Dundalk Schoolboys League - which comprised of just five clubs back then, Bendigo, Demesne Celtic, Park Rovers, St Joseph’s and St Patrick’s - took on the might of the FAI Schoolboys in Oriel Park.
The FAI, who had recently put England Schoolboys to the sword with a 6-0 trouncing and also defeated Northern Ireland, arrived as red hot favourites to win the game.
Played in front of over 2000 spectators, the gulf in class was evident from the kick-off but the locals held the national side to just one goal in the first-half, scored by their centre-forward Barry Duffy of Home Farm, who would later go on to play for Arsenal.
The second-half was a personal triumph for Billy Quinn, also a Home Farm player, as he hit a hat-trick to seal a 4-0 win for the FAI team. Like Duffy, he also went to Arsenal.
Quinn played for Dundalk in the 1950-1951 season, scoring twice in a Leinster Senior Cup semi-final against Transport in a 3-2 win, injury depriving him from a place in the final win over St Pat’s.
Lone season at Oriel
Another player on the FAI team to eventually play with Dundalk was Mick Finglas of Stella Marist. He played 26 games in the 1953-1954 season, notching two goals when he was moved from full-back to outside left.
The national side was captained by Albert Murphy of St Joseph’s Dublin. ‘Albie’ as he was known would play for Transport, winning Inter-League honours against the Scottish League which led to a transfer to Clyde.
With them he won two Division Two championships and two Scottish Cup medals, beating Celtic in 1955 and Hibs in 1958. He won one full cap against Yugoslavia in 1955.
Future Irish skipper
Another to earn full international honours was Gerry Mackay of Johnville who went on to play for Shamrock Rovers, winning league and cup medals. He won three full caps and had the honour of captaining the national team. He late played for Kings Lynn in the Southern League.
Jimmy ‘Timber’ Cummins, who played outside left won a league medal with St Patrick’s Athletic in their first year in League of Ireland football in the 1951-1952 season.
The coach of the the FAI Schoolboys team was Charlie Turner, born in Athlone in 1911. He played for Manchester Central, Stalybridge Celtic, Leeds United, Southend United, West Ham United and Hartlepool between 1936-1939, winning ten full caps for Ireland.
The Dundalk Schoolboys side was coached by Joey Donnelly and Gerry McCourt for three weeks prior to the game. Also helping out were Owen Fox - brother of Dundalk’s famous groundsman, Mickey Fox - Brian McKeever and Dundalk manager Sam Prole.
The local team also produced future stars. Centre-forward Joe Martin would play in excess of 115 games for Dundalk, becoming the club’s third top goalscorer of all time with 109 goals. He also won Inter-League honours with the League of Ireland against the German Messiah League in 1951.
Jackie McCourt, who played at centre-back, and son of coach Gerry McCourt and brother of Frank who won six caps for Northern Ireland, would go on to win FAI Cup medals with Dundalk in 1952 and Drumcondra in 1957. Jackie lined out 100 times for Dundalk, scoring five goals.
Tommy McCabe, one of Dundalk’s subs, went on to play for the senior team before heading north to join Distillery where it was rumoured he received he a 1,000 signing on fee. The following year he joined Glentoran and was capped twice by the Irish League. He went on to live in New Zealand after he got married and played for Marist Old Boys in Wellington, being capped at full international for the Kiwis.
Seamus Roddy also made it to senior level and collected a President’s Cup medal when Dundalk beat Drumcondra 2-1 in 1951. He also won the Leinster Junior Shield with Dundalk Colts in a 2-1 defeat of Dublin team, Callan’s in the 1948-1949 season. Seamie went on to marry a sister of Mickey Fox.
Peter Richardson made the Dundalk Reserve team in the 1946-1947 season and the same year he lined out in all of Dundalk’s Inter-City Cup games against Glentoran and Distillery.
Johnny McEvoy, who worked with the Dundalk Democrat, captained the team and was a brother of Jimmy McEvoy who transferred from Dundalk to Wolverhampton and who then played with Distillery.
Don Brannigan’s father played senior games with Dundalk and he was a nephew of the referee, Mr John Brannigan, whose son Peter Brannigan wrote the history of Clan na Gael GFC.
Ian Minshull, Kevin Kelly, Gerry McAlester, Pat McGee - who made the Dundalk first team - Gerry Ryan and Don Brannigan, brother of Dundalk Chairman Vincent McKey (1967-1968) all enjoyed successful junior careers.
Cup winning skipper
Joey Donnelly was capped 10 times by Ireland and captained Dundalk’s first cup winning side in 1942, beating Cork United 3-1. Also capped twice at Inter-League level, he is Dundalk’s all time record goalscorer with 142 goals in all competitions.
Gerry McCourt, the other half of the coaching team, captained Dundalk to their first league title in the 1932-1933 season. In a long Dundalk career, he scored 90 goals.
Owen Fox and Brian McKeever were two men who did sterling work for underage football in Dundalk, laying the foundations for the present excellent Dundalk Schoolboys League that serves the town and surrounding areas so well.