Sligo Rovers CrestSligo Rovers Crest



[The Early Seventies] [King Billy] [Champions again] [Profiles of the Champions]
[The End of the Seventies] [John Carpenter] [The Early Eighties] [FAI Cup victory at last]

Sligo Rovers History 1970-83

The Early Seventies

After the excitement of the 1970 cup final the early seventies proved to be barren years. Once again the club faced a battle for survival as it's financial situation slowly worsened. During the summer of 1970 goalkeeper Tom Lally was sold to Celtic for 4000 and Kevin Fallon was sold to Southend United for 1000 but the club still had not made significant inroads into it's debt. Rovers started the season by making their customary first round exit from the City cup and failing to make the semi-finals of the shield. During the league campaign Rovers signed local winger Paul Mc Gee and former Bohemians goalkeeper Dinny Lowry who had made a huge contribution to Bohs FAI cup final victory the previous season. Still the best the club could do in the league was mid-table. Rovers defeated Tullamore Town in the first round of the cup before losing out to St. Pats in the second round. Before the season was over player manager Ken Turner had left.

Ken Turner was replaced as manager by the partnership of David Pugh and Gerry Mitchell for the 1971/72 season. The club's professional policy was discontinued and the team went part time. The early season form was not good as Rovers were knocked out of the city cup at the second round stage. Their performance in the shield yielded two wins. The league campaign started with a run of one win from their first nine games and another season of struggle was in prospect. The form improved slightly in mid-season as an unbeaten run of six games seemed to have stabilised the situation. Then the team only managed to pick up three points from the last eleven games to finish on the bottom of the league, forcing the club to seek re-election once again. In the F.A.I. cup Rovers were knocked out in the first round by Drumcondra after a second replay.

Before the start of the new season the Rovers A.G.M. passed a motion stating that the Showgrounds, or part of it's grounds, could not be be sold or Mortgaged. The partnership of Pugh and Mitchell was replaced by Jim Mc Donnell as manager. Mc Donnell had made his name as a player with Dundalk, Ards and Crusaders and had played for the Irish league and the League of Ireland teams. The season started as usual with a first round exit from the city cup and another failure to make the semi-finals of the shield. Rovers league form was very poor and they only managed three wins from the first fourteen games. Mc Donnell was sacked in January with the club in a perilous position once more. He was replaced as manager by ex. Cork Hibs player John Duffy. Under his leadership Rovers managed to haul themselves away from the bottom of the table, eventually finishing ninth. In the F.A.I. cup first round Rovers lost to Limerick and Duffy left to leave the club searching for a manager for the new season once again.

For the 1973/74 seaon Rovers appointed LenVallard as manager. Vallard had played for Reading as a full back. The start of the season was re-organised with the shield discontinued. This competition was replaced by a new competition the League Cup. The teams were split into two groups for the qualifying rounds and Rovers could only manage one victory from their five games. In the league Rovers started reasonably well before their form dipped and they found themselves on the bottom of the league again. Rovers managed to win only six of their 26 games in the league and eventually finished second from bottom. Once again the club was forced to apply for re-election to the league. The cup did not provide any joy either. Rovers beat non-league Wembley Rovers from Cork in the first round. They were then knocked out by Athlone Town in the second round. During the summer Len Vallard resigned and Rovers were again looking for a manager.

Back to the top of the page

King Billy

The search for a new manager provided Rovers with one of the more bizarre stories from their history as well as a fortunate lucky break. Rovers announced that the new boss would be Derry man Johnny Crossan whose contract was about to expire with Belgian club Tongren. Indeed Crossan began signing players for the new season although he could not play himself. It was only after the league campaign had started that it was announced that he would not be released by the Belgians. David Pugh then took over as caretaker as the club searched for a successor. Rovers qualified for the semi-final of the League cup with a win over Shamrock Rovers. In the semi-final they were eliminated by their North Western neighbours Finn Harps. Rovers started the league badly and were bottom of the league when it was announced that the Scot Billy Sinclair would be the new boss. Sinclair had played with Kilmarnock, Chelsea and Glentoran during his career and was returning from playing in Australia with Marconi. Sinclair managed to steady the ship a little but in spite of winning six of their final 15 league games Rovers still finished bottom of the league. The season finished with a first round exit in the F.A.I. cup to Cork Celtic (3 - 1) but Sinclair was about to exert his influence on the club.

At the beginning of the 1975/76 season Sinclair set about building his team. He brought in goalkeeper Alan Paterson from Sheffield Wednesday, Chris Rutherford and Graham Fox from Cardiff City and Mick Leonard from Celtic. Rovers started the season in blistering form and reached the final of the league cup. They beat Finn Harps 3 - 2 in the first round before travelling to Dublin to defeat Home Farm 3 - 1 in the next round. The team then produced their best performance of the season in the semi-final against Drogheda at Oriel Park in Dundalk. Rovers won the game 5 - 1 with a hat-trick from Mick Leonard and goals from Paul Mc Gee and Johnny Boyle. The papers the following day compared Leonard's performance to the great Dixie Dean. The final was a two legged affair and Rovers lost the first leg in Limerick 4 - 0 in a game which was marred by crowd trouble. A Mick Leonard goal earned Rovers victory in the second leg but they lost the final 4 - 1 on aggregate.

Once the league campaign started Rovers form dipped and they could not haul themselves out of the bottom half of the table. In fact Rovers could only win six out of their 26 games, however, had they been able to convert some of their eight draws to victories then they might have improved their position. Rovers eventually finished tenth ion the league. In the cup Rovers faced non-league opposition in the first two rounds. Victories against CIE/Transport and St. Brendans gave Rovers a quarter final tie against Athlone Town at the Showgrounds. Athlone raced into a two goal lead before Rovers levelled the game with goals from Tony Fagen and Paul Mc Gee. Then two goals from Mick Leonard earned the team a place in the semi-finals. Bohemians would be the opposition in the club's first semi-final since 1970 at Tolka Park. Rovers were unlucky to be held to 1 - 1 with Paul Mc Gee the goalscorer on the night. In the replay they were no match for Bohemians and lost 5 - 0. There were, however, signs that Sinclair's team was beginning to come together, especially in the cup competitions.

Back to the top of the page

Champions Again 1976/77

Sinclair continued to strengthen his team by bringing in Paul Fielding and Gary Hulmes from Rochdale and Michael Betts from Blackpool. They started the season well by winning their league cup group to qualify for the semi-final. A victory over St. Pats in the semi final (2 - 1) clinched a place in the final again against old rivals Shamrock Rovers. The final was played at Dalymount Park and Rovers lost out to a late goal from Mick Leech.

On October 3rd Rovers set out on what was to be an historic league campaign. Defending champions Dundalk were the visitors to the Showgrounds that day. The previous year Sinclair's team had played well in the league cup only to fade when the league started. This time Rovers were ready and a superb performance saw them defeat Dundalk 4 - 2. The goals were provided by Paul Mc Gee, Michael Betts 2 and Gary Hulmes. Rovers won four of their first five game before suffering back to back defeats away to Cork Celtic and at home to St. Pats. There would be two more defeats in the whole campaign. The form pickd up after this and two five nil wins on consecutive weekends showed that Rovers meant business. The second of these was against Athlone Town at St. Mels park and was a performance worthy of champions. With Betts and Fagen providing the the ammunition from midfield Rovers strike force of Mc Gee, Hulmes and Leonard ripped Athlone to shreds. One week later, on December 12th Rovers defeated Drogheda United at the Showgrounds to go top of the league. They would stay there to the end of the season.

In early January Rovers lost to nearest rivals Bohemians at the Showgrounds. This was to be their last defeat of the season. The team did not play as well in the run in as they did before Christmas, however solid defence and some outstanding goalkeeping from Alan Paterson allowed them to dig out results when necessary. The league was to be settled on the final day of the season, Easter Sunday, April 10th 1977. Rovers needed to beat Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds to clinch the title, a draw and a win for Bohs would force a play-off. The game started well for Rovers as Charlie Ferry's cross found the head of Gary Hulmes and his looping header put Rovers in front after only six minutes. Rovers failed to consolidate on their lead and eventually the nerves began to set in.

Into the second half the score was still one - nil and Shams were beginning to look dangerous and then the unthinkable happened. Shams winger Paul Mc Gee equalised and the nightmare scenario of a play-off began to surface. The goal shook Rovers into action and for the last half hour of the game they played like champions. With twenty minutes to go Rovers forced a left wing corner at the Church hill end of the ground. Our own swung the ball into the penalty area and centre half Chris Rutherford soared above everyone to thump an unstopable header into the top of the net. With just twelve minutes to go Paul Mc Gee added a third and the celebrations were well and truly underway. When the final whistle went the crowd spilled onto the pitch as Rovers had won their second championship a full forty years after their first one had been securred. The trophy was presented to captain Graham Fox on the pitch after the game signalling the start of the celebrations which would last the whole summer.

Back to the top of the page

Profiles of the Champions

Alan Paterson : The finest goalkeeper to play in the league of Ireland during this author's lifetime. Paterson joined the club from Sheffield Wednesday and during the league campaign produced many memorable performances. One which stands out above all others is an afternoon at Finn Park when Harps lethal strike force of Brendan Bradley and Hilary Carlyle threw everything they knew at him. Rovers were under siege for the whole game and at time Paterson seemed to be playing Harps on his own. One save from a Carlysle header just under the crossbar simply took your breath away. Rovers got one break in the game and Paul Mc Gee scored to give the side an unlikely win. Goalkeepers don't win games on their own but there is no doubt that Paterson kept Rovers in games they should have lost long enough for Mc Gee, Hulmes or Leonard to snatch a goal at the other end. Alan went on to play for Glentoran and forced his way into the Northern Ireland squad. The best compliment that can be paid to him is that it took a goalkeeper of the calibre of Pat Jennings to keep him on the bench.

Paul Fielding : Signed by Sinclair from Rochdale originally as a midfielder but converted to full-back as injury forced Sinclair to spend most of his time on the bench. Paul was not the most skillful player in the team but he was Mr. reliable. He rarely had a bad game and was hardly ever exposed by opposition fowards.

Graham Fox : Graham was signed from Cardiff City with Chris Rutherford. One of the best attacking full-backs to play in the league of Ireland. His educated left-foot always seemed to be able to pick out a colleague. He was always available down the left side and prduced some wicked crosses for the strikers. Graham had the honour of captaining the team.

Chris Rutherford : Joined the club from Cardiff City. Chris was a giant in the centre of the defence. Although he was not the greatest on the ground he won everything in the air. He also managed to score some vital goals for the club. Chris has given the club great service and is the assistant manager at the club today. Indeed he has taken over the managers duties on a number of occassions as the club searched for a new manager.

Tony Stenson : Another player who joined the club from Sheffield Wednesday. Tony is another import who has given the club great service. An uncompromising centre half when "Stenny" tackled the whole Showgrounds shook. Formed a solid partnership with Chris Rutherford for many years. Tony's day of glory would come in the F.A.I. cup in later years !

Paul Mc Gee : The most talented footballer to be produced by the town of Sligo during this author's lifetime. Paul could play wide on the right or as an out an out striker. He scored goals that others could only dream about and they were almost always important goals. He finished joint top scorer with 13 goals for the season. Paul was signed by Q.P.R. after impressing them with his form during the cahmpionship winning year. He went on to be capped by Ireland and scored four goals for his country.

Tony Fagen Fago has dedicated his life to the club and, like Chris Rutherford, is still with the club as a coach. He was the ball winner in midfield and made sure the opposition were not given easy possesion. Born within a stone's throw of the Showgrounds he never gave anything less than 100%. Tony would go on to captain the club on another of it's greatest days.

Michael Betts : A talented central mid-field player who joined the club from Blackpool. Michael provided the skill and guile from mid-field which set up the strikers. He also scored some important goals for the club. He eventually moved on to join Shamrock Rovers.

Charlie Ferry : Charlie joined the club after Christmas and was Sinclair's final piece of the jigsaw. A Donegal man who had played with Finn Harps Charlie gave the side balance down the left hand side of mid-field and though he only played for part of the campaign he made a huge contribution.

Mick Leonard : Joined the club from Celtic where he played one first team game. He was the target man and formed a lethal partnership with Gary Hulmes and Paul Mc Gee. He scored many vital goals for the club as well as providing opportunities for Hulmes. Returned to Scotland the following season where he was a regulat goalscorer with Dunfermline.

Gary Hulmes : Gary was signed from Rochdale at the same time as Paul Fielding. He was the perfect partner for Leonard as his lightning pace got him into many usefull positions. His finishing sometimes let him down and should have scored more goals than he did for the club.

Padraig Mc Manus : Padriag was a local lad who was not a regular in the first team. He did a useful job at full-back whenever he was asked to.

Shane Walker : Shane was signed from Hereford United but failed to win a regular first team place. Like Mc Manus he proved to be a useful squad member.

The only disappointment of this season came in the F.A.I cup where Rovers faced Limerick. A 4 - 1 defeat meant that the champions were out in the first round.

Back to the top of the page

The end of the Seventies

As champions Rovers would take their place in the European cup at the start of the 1977/78 season. When the draw was made the club would face Red Star Belgrade with the first leg in Belgrade. From a footballing point of view it was a good draw, Red Star were one of the top clubs in European football and in later years would win the European cup. From a financial point of view it was not seen as a good draw with a long, expensive trip to eastern Europe and the prospect of an academic second leg at the Showgrounds. In the end it was a very brave performance from Rovers in the Red Star stadium. They defended well in the first half and went in at half time level at 0 - 0. The fitness of the Yugoslavians began to tell in the second half and Rovers eventually lost 3 - 0. For the return leg the Showgrounds was packed to the rafters as the Yugoslavians toyed with Rovers. The men from eastern Europe produced an exhubition of football which was on a different planet from anything the Showgrounds had seen before. They were a goal up after only five minutes and were three - nil up late in the game when Kevin Mc Cool was brought down as he made a run into the box. The referee awarded a penalty and Paul Mc Gee had his effort saved by the keeper. The referee decided that the keeper had moved too soon and ordered the kick to be re-taken. Unfortunately the keeper saved again and Rovers were robbed of a small slice of glory.

Rovers started well in the league and looked as if they were about to put up a stern defence of their championship. Then just after the European match Paul Mc Gee joined Queens Park Rangers. Michael Betts had left the club during the summer and so Rovers were without the two most creative players from the championship victory. Mc Gee was replaced in the side by local winger Harry Mc Laughlin who was about to keep a date with destiny. In fact Mc Laughlin's early performances were so good that the blow of losing the most talented footballer in the League of Ireland was softened greatly. The side that had won the league was breaking up fast and in January of 1978 Mick Leonard returned to Scotland where he was a regular goalscorer with Dunfermline. Leonard was replaced by Shelbourne striker John Delemere who arrived at the Showgrounds with a reputation as the countries top goalscorer. He never did reproduce his Shelbourne form at the Showgrounds and in the end Rovers league challange faded through lack of goals, eventually finishing sixth. They reached the semi final of the league cup where they played Dundalk over two legs. After a 2 - 1 defeat at Oriel Park Rovers won the second leg 2 - 1 at the Showgrounds and the aggregate score was 3 - 3 after extra time was played. Unfortunately Rovers lost the penalty shoot-out and so failed to make the final.

Back to the top of the page

Giles and Carpenter rob the cup

The F.A.I. cup campign is one which all Rovers fans remember, with some bitterness, as an opportunity lost. In the first round Rovers visited Richmond Park where John Delemere's goal was enough to secure victory. But this only tells part of the story because the main talking point after the match was the display of keeper Alan Paterson. This was another of those occassions where Paterson produced save after breathtaking save to keep Rovers in a game they had no right to win. In the second round Rovers were on their travels again, this time to the south, to face Cork Athletic. Two goals from Don Tobin gave Rovers a 2 - 1 win and a place in the semi-final. The semi-final was against Drogheda United in Dundalk. With the crowd still pouring into Oriel Park John Gilligan put Rovers in front with a free kick. In a very tense game Rovers held onto this lead until the end and faced the mouth-watering prospect of facing old rivals Shamrock Rovers in the final.

Shamrock Rovers were always the darlings of the Dublin press which made a victory over the hoops all the sweeter. On this occassion the club was being re-shaped. Johnny Giles had returned from England and was given the brief of turning Shams into one of the top teams in Europe. The club became a full-time professional outfit and Giles recruited seasoned international players such as Ray Treacy and Eamonn Dunphy to help achieve his aims. On a rain sodden Sunday afternoon Giles' team was outplayed by the men from the north-west only to be defeated by the worst piece of refereeing witnessed by any Rovers fan. The name of John Carpenter is infamous among Rovers fans for his display in this game. With three minutes of injury time played in the first half Shams winger Steve Lynex ran into the box with Rovers full-back Paul Fielding sheperding him towards the line. With little or no contact Lynex went down and Mr. Carpenter pointed to the spot. Ray Treacy converted the penalty.

In the second half Rovers pushed forward looking for an equaliser. On two occasions Gary Hulmes was clear through put couldn't finish. Shams keeper Alan O'Neill produced an excellent display of goalkeeping to deny Rovers time and again. Shams held on for victory and for Rovers this was the bitterest pill of all. The penalty decision itself was a disgrace but this was only half the story. No trainer had been on the pitch in the first half. To add insult to injury Mr. Carpenter explained that the three minutes injury time was added on for time-wasting by Shamrock Rovers !! It later transpired that the referee had taken the pitch without his referee's card and he was disqualified as a result. Visits to the Showgrounds became even more uncomfortable for Giles and his men after this game.

The 1978/79 season started promisingly with Rovers qualifying for the semi-final of the league cup. Once again they were to cross swords with Shams and a 2 - 0 aggregate defeat was the result. Rovers league form was indifferent and they could only manage 9 wins to finish mid-table. After the heartbreak of the previous year Rovers were eliminated from the cup in the first round by Athlone Town. This season proved to be the end of an era. Billy Sinclair announced before the end of the season that he would be leaving the club to take up a coaching position with California Sunshine in America. During his three years at the club Sinclair had transformed Rovers from a bottom of the table team to a championship winning team. He was narrowly denied victories in both of the other major competitions as well. Billy was going to be a hard man to replace.

At the beginning of the following season Rovers replaced Billy Sinclair with ex. Arsenal and Hull City goalkeeper Ian Mc Kechnie. The Scot lasted two weeks before he was sacked for a breach of club discipline. Rovers then appointed ex. Finn Harps manager Patsy Mc Gowan in his place. McGowan set about strengthening the team with an influx of players from Derry and Donegal who had played for him before. The league of Ireland's record goalscorer Brendan Bradley signed as did Jim Sheridan, Liam Patton and Donal O'Doherty. Mc Gowan had an inaspiscious start to his Rovers career with a defeat by Athlone Town in the League cup. Rovers lost their first two league games but they then went on an unbeaten run of twelve games after this which saw them reach fourth in the league. Their form dipped slightly in the final third of the league and they eventually had to settle for eight place. In the cup Rovers needed a replay to defeat non-league Tramore Athletic 2 - 0 but once again they lost to Athlone Town in the second round. During the summer Alan Paterson left the club to join Glentoran but he left behind memories of the best goalkeeper to play in the League of Ireland.

Back to the top of the page

The Early Eighties

Rovers eight place in the league the previoius season meant that they opened the new decade playing in the Tyler cup. This was a cross border competition and in the first round Rovers beat Glenavon 3 - 1. They then had to face Linfield in the second round at the Showgrounds on a night where the big loser was football. Cross border competitions always fail because Linfield's fans visit's to the south almost alway's end in carnage. This was no exception as the Northern fans fought running battles with the Gardai during the course of the game. The Belfast fans received a Garda escort to the border after the game but their behaviour sounded the death knell for this competition. For the record Linfield won the game 2 - 1. In the League cup Rovers lost 4 - 1 to Athlone Town in the first round. Once again Rovers got off to a poor start in the league. Then they hit a run of form winning six matches in a row which pulled them up into third place. This position proved to be false and seven defeats in a row saw Rovers slide to eleventh position by the time the league finished.

In the cup Rovers needed a replay to get past U.C.D. in the first round. A second round win over Home Farm gave them a place in the semi-final where they played Waterford. The semi-final ended in a 2 - 2 draw with Rovers goals from Paddy Sheridan and Liam Patton. Rovers won the replay with a volley from Harry Mc Laughlin settling the game. In the final against Dundalk Rovers never looked capable of winning in a game in which the Louth men dominated. The match was scoreless until the 51st minute when an inswinging right wing corner from John Archbold beat everyone and creeped in at the far post. Rovers defending was shocking. Even then Rovers never looked like they could save the game and had few serious efforts at goal. Their best effort was a chip from Harry Mc Laughlin which forced a save from the Dundalk keeper, Blackmore. In the 78th minute the game was over as a quick break from Dundalk sent Mick Fairclough through and he finished calmly. This was Rovers fifth cup final and their fifth defeat. There was talk of a jinx or a curse placed on the club in this competition but destiny was about to smile on the club.

Rovers financial problems surfaced again at the beginning of the 1981/82 season. The club announced that they could be out of football by christmas if they didn't raise 20,000. Once again the tried and trusted method of raising cash, the door to door collection, saw the people of the area ensure that the club would continue. They were eliminated from the league cup in the second round and once again followed this with a poor start to the league. They then went seven games unbeaten. Included in this run was an unforgettable home game against Dundalk when the run seemed to have ended. Dundalk led 1 - 0 with just four minutes left. Gus Gilligan equalised and then in injury time a diving header from Peter Mc Nally gave Rovers an unlikely win. The team lost only nine league games all season and eventually finished fifth in the league. The cup saw Rovers draw with U.C.D. in the first round before being eliminated by the students after a replay (3 - 1). At the end of the season Patsy Mc Gowan left the club to take over the managers position at Finn Harps.

Back to the top of the page

Rovers have won the Cup !

The 1982/83 season was to be an historic one for the club but at the beginning of the season nobody would have predicted the outcome. Patsy Mc Gowan had returned to Finn Harps and taken half the Rovers team with him. Rovers appointed Paul Fielding as his replacement. Paul had been a dependable full-back in Billy Sinclair's championship winning squad in 1976/77. The club's debt was mounting steadily again which restricted the funds available to strengthen the squad. Everything pointed towards a season of struggle and that's exactly how it turned out. Rovers only managed four wins from their 26 league games and finished the league third last just avoiding the ignomy of having to apply for re-election. When the F.A.I. cup started Rovers were not among the favourites to win the competition. They were drawn against Home Farm in the first round and won the game thanks to a penalty from Andy Elliott. This set up a second round tussle against Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds. Shams took the lead in the game only for Harry Mc Laughlin to equalise for Rovers. Rovers went in front with a rare free kick strike from midfield powerhouse Tony Fagen. Rovers held on to win a place in the semi-finals.

When the semi-final draw paired Rovers with non-league Cobh Ramblers a place in the final looked like a formality but Ramblers led by veteran striker Frank O'Neill had different ideas. In the first game at Flower Lodge Ramblers took an early lead and seemed to be holding on for a major cup upset. With a couple of minutes left Rovers centre forward Mick Graham headed an equaliser to earn a replay at the Showgrounds. In the replay Rovers cruised into a two goal lead with goals from Graham and Harry Mc Laughlin and seemed to have fought off the challange of the minnows. Incredibly Ramblers fought back and salvaged a 2 - 2 draw from the game and another replay at Flower Lodge. This game ended in a 0 - 0 draw and it seemed the teams were now so familiar with each other that they cancelled each other out. So it was back to the Showgrounds and another replay. If Rovers were destined to win the cup them Cobh Ramblers hadn't read the script. Within a minute of the start of the game Frank O'Neill put the non-league side in front and then added a second half way through the first half. At half time a stunned Showgrounds could see no way back for Rovers. They threw caution to the wind in the second half and the centre backs were pushed forward at every opportunity. Chris Rutherford pulled a goal back with a header from a Mick Ferry and then he equalised with a similar header after his fellow centre back Tony Stenson had retrieved a clearance from another free-kick and crossed for his defensive partner. The game went into extra time again. Rovers took the lead when Harry Mc Laughlin broke down the left wing. He cut inside and crossed for Gus Gilligan to head home. There was no way back for the non-league team and Rovers were in the final at last.

The 1983 F.A.I. Cup final against Bohemians took place on Sunday April 24th at Dalymount Park on what must have been the wettest day in Irish history. Effectively this was a home game for Bohs, though Rovers, as usual, had just as much support in the crowd. The first half of the game saw the usual disasters which Rovers have become accoustomed to in cup finals. With just 19 minutes gone the cup final centre half jinx struck again as Chris Rutherford had to be substituted with a knee injury. Almost immediately Tony Stenson received a cut to his head and required lengthy treatment. Thankfully the gutsy Englishman stayed on the pitch. With just ten minutes to the break Bohemians won a corner on the left. The corner found the head of Barry Murphy and his header beat Colin Oakley. Bohs held the lead to half time and once again Rovers were staring defeat in the face in a cup final.

Rovers produced a revival of remarkable proportions in the second half which had the whole country talking about this cup final. On 58 minutes Rovers won a free kick on the left which was taken by Martin Mc Donnell. The ball barely rose from the ground and skimmed across the penalty area to Tony Stenson who met it with a crashing volley which flew past Dermot O'Neill. The players sensed that this was to be their day and roared on by a support completely oblivious to a downpour of biblical proportions they piled on the pressure. Dalymount Park was now rocking and it was the support from the north west who were making all the noise.

	Que Sera Sera
	Whatever will be, will be
	The future's not ours to see
	Que Sera Sera

The team were driven on by the midfield guile of Martin Mc Donnell ably assisted by his midfield minder Tony Fagen. With fifteen minutes to go Tony Stenson broke up a Bohs attack and rolled the ball sideways to Mc Donnell who now seemed to be everywhere. His cultured left foot picked out a pass to Harry Mc Laughlin on the left wing. There appeared to be no danger to Bohs as Mc Laughlin picked up the ball and ran at the full back. He jinked inside and, seeing that Dermot O'Neill was off his line, placed an immaculate chip into the top corner of the net. To win the cup would have been enough. To win with a goal of such sublime quality was the icing on the cake. Bohs had one last chance when the ball fell to Donal Murphy with only minutes left. His shot seemed to be heading for the top corner but Colin Oakley launched himself across goal and managed to get a finger tip to the ball, pushing it wide. In that moment Rovers fans knew that the long wait was at an end. When the final whistle went Dalymount Park witnessed the joy that can only follow five cup final defeats out of five. Tony Fagen became the first Rovers captain to raise the cup an duly dropeped the lid, but nobody cared. Sligo people have always had a love affair with the cup but until this April afternoon the cup had not reciprocated. This was the greatest day in the history of Sligo Rovers Football Club.

© Copyright : Jim Garvey

Back to the top of the page

[History 1928 - 1940] [History 1940 - 1970] [History 1983 - 1999] [History 2000 - Present]