Dundalk’s previous meeting with Hajduk Split came in the European Cup Winners Cup back in 1977 when Hajduk were kingpins of the Yugoslav club scene and stuffed with international players.
The September 14 home tie against the Yugoslav Cup winners added another glorious chapter to Dundalk’s growing European record, as Terry Flanagan’s goal earned the club’s third Euro victory to sit beside the ‘63 win in Zurich and the ‘68 victory at Oriel Park against DOS Utrecht.
In one of Jim McLaughlin’s finest hours, his part timers matched the skills and performance of the opposition.
After early pressure from the visitors, McLaughlin took a hand in one of his characteristic breakouts from deep defence by starting a move from which Mick Lawlor drew a superb save from the keeper.
Starting with the victorious FAI Cup final team, Derek O’Brien took the place of the injured Jack McManus for the second half, when the skills of Lawlor were instrumental in opening up the Slav defence, but a number of chances went a begging for Dundalk.
With the clock running down, the home side finally got their reward.
Not for the first time, McLaughlin careered out of defence, sent Seamus McDowell away and Flanagan beautifully finished a quick transfer from Lawlor.
He almost repeated the dose before the final whistle, which was the signal for a tumultuous ovation.
Heroes? All of them, but nobody more so than the 37-year-old Jim McLaughlin, for his inspiring surges and his unwillingness to lie down under the class of the opposition.