This Sunday, Glengad United are in FAI Junior Cup semi-final action as they head for St 1 Michael’s in Tipperary looking to earn a place in the Aviva Stadium final. Junior Cup successes have been few and far between for clubs fron Donegal. Swilly Rovers have two FAI Junior Cup wins to their name from 1962 and 1967. CHRIS MCNULTY delves back in time to uncover why the ’67 win remains shrouded in mystery …
Swilly Rovers took receipt of the 1967 FAI Junior Cup, but it was a competition and, ultimately for Swilly, a victory tarnished by the memory of appeals and objections.
It is a memory, over time, that hasn’t quite been erased as much as skipped over by the natives around the Lennonside.
If they speak in reverential tones of the men of ’62, the class of ’67 is spoken of only in whispers in Ramelton.
The 1967 FAI Junior Cup final was originally pencilled in for May 14, but there was no action played until Swilly Rovers and Orchard United drew 1-1 at Dalymount Park on August 20 – three months after the appointed date.
The replay was held on September 10.
Swilly flew John Doherty and Patsy Sheridan in from England to play in the game at Richmond Park.
Two periods of extra time were played before Orchard prevailed 2-1. Mick Cassidy netted twice for Orchard, with Pat Kelly on the mark for Swilly.
A fortnight later, the FAI Junior Protest Committee dismissed an objection by Swilly against Desmond Hickey, Orchard’s centre-forward. Swilly complained that Hickey played for Shelbourne in the 1966/67 season and could not be re-registered as an Orchard player for the final.
Hickey had not played for Orchard until the replay at Richmond Park.
While the Junior Protest Committee threw out Swilly’s objection, the senior committee later upheld it.
Brendan McDaid, the Swilly Rovers secretary, told the local media: ‘We don’t want to win the Cup by protest’.
On April 2, 1967, Swilly beat Tolka Rovers 3-1 in the semi-final. Immediately, however, the Tolka club lodged an objection, in which they argued that Duffy was ‘a professional player and wasn’t registered as a professional’ while they contested that Sheridan had played for Sligo and had not been transferred to Swilly.
The FAI said that there was ‘no basis’ for the argument on Duffy.
Swilly submitted that Sheridan was ‘transporting prisoners to Mountjoy Prison’, but the FAI didn’t take heed and awarded the game to Tolka.
When Swilly subsequently lodged an appeal, the FAI ordered a replay of the game – but the drama was only just beginning.
The semi-final was replayed on April 23 and Swilly won the game 2-1.
Creevy put Tolka ahead. Joe Duffy equalised and, with the last kick of the game ‘J Bradley’ won the game for Swilly.
Tolka objected, this time on the grounds that Sheridan had played ‘illegally’. Tolka argued that Sheridan had played for Athlone and also submitted that five other Swilly players were ‘illegal’.
Within 48 hours of the game being awarded to Tolka, Swilly appealed, showing evidence – which was accepted – that the five players had actually played in the D&D at the same time as their semi-final.
Due to the toing and froing, the final was put back.
The final was ordered to be replayed after the senior committee upheld Swilly’s appeal.
On November 5, 1967, the teams went head-to-head again, this time at Oriel Park in Dundalk.
By this point, Swilly had spent over £300 on objections and appeals.
In the 19th minute of extra time, Joe Duffy netted a goal, ‘scored almost in darkness’, one press report described.
There was no Cup presented due to crowd trouble, fuelled surely by the months of boardroom wrangling.
Swilly representative Brendan McDaid was handed the Cup in the pavilion at Oriel Park, but no medals were handed over to Swilly or their players.
In the area outside the dressing room, Joe Wickham from the FAI informed McDaid that Orchard intended to protesting.
Orchard believed that Jim Sheridan had been released from Swilly after the game in Richmond Park. Swilly, naturally, sternly argued that they had permission to play Sheridan in the final.
The Irish Independent, of November 10, 1967, reported that St Pat’s signed Jim Sheridan, who will play in their next game against Cork Celtic.
Three weeks later, the FAI met and upheld the Orchard protest. The Association ordered the return of the FAI Junior Cup to their headquarters.
Brendan McDaid said Swilly already had the wheels in motion to appeal the finding.
On December 13, 1967, the FAI’s senior appeals committee met to uphold the Swilly appeal after the junior committee upheld the objection by Orchard on two of the three points they had raised .
The Irish Press reports that ‘Swilly eventually appealed their way to the final and that began a further series of protests and appeals’.
Behind the mystery there lies some hidden truths that are not best-kept secrets in football.
For instance, un the Oriel Park game, Joe Duffy was recorded as the Swilly goalscorer, but the former Donegal League Chairman was not a part of the Swilly panel that season.
Nor were the likes of Brendan Duffy, Mooney and Bradley, a reason, perhaps, why that particularly success is glossed over.
In February 1968, Swilly arranged for medals to be presented to the 1967 FAI Junior Cup team.
Neil Blaney, the Minister for Agriculture, presented the medals at a dance in the Ramelton Town Hall.
Swilly representatives on the night said that did not to enter the 1967/68 FAI Junior Cup, but hoped to try to gain entry to the Intermediate Cup for the following season.
The Irish Press reported: ‘They forgot to enter and were not included in the draw’.Tags: