Republic of Ireland Home Soccer Grounds
Over the years Ireland has played international soccer matches at a number of home venues. To date they have been largely confined to football grounds in Dublin and Cork. In August 2009 the first Irish international football match was played in the revamped Thomond Park in Limerick. The Republic of Ireland senior football team has been something of a nomad since the first international match in June 1924. The FAI has never owned it’s own soccer stadium but upon the completion of the Aviva Stadium in 2010 the Irish football team will have a modern permanent venue for home international matches. The Aviva Stadium will be jointly owned by the FAI and the IRFU.
Dalymount Park – Dublin
The first Irish international soccer match after the foundation of the state was at Dalymount Park. Playing under the auspices of the Olympic Council of Ireland the Irish Free State beat the USA 3-1 on 16 June 1924 in a friendly. There were a total of 82 matches played at the venue ending with a 1-0 win over Morocco in September 1990. Dalymount continues as the home football ground for Bohemians FC.
Lansdowne Road – Dublin
The first international soccer match played at Lansdowne Road was on 23 April 1927. An Irish Free State team hosted an Italian selection with the Italians running out 1-2 winners. It would be another 44 years before the next soccer international took place at the home of Irish rugby. Following a decision by the FAI to make Lansdowne Road the regular home of Irish soccer in the late 1970’s, the ground was the setting for a total of 126 international matches. In 2007 Lansdowne Road was demolished to make way for the new Aviva Stadium which is jointly owned by the FAI and the IRFU.
The Mardyke – Cork
The Mardyke Arena in Cork was the venue for one Irish international football match on 19 March 1939. In a friendly with visitors Hungary, Ireland earned a creditable 2-2 draw. Paddy Bradshaw of St James Gates opened the scoring after 14 minutes and Irish football great from Manchester United, Johnny Carey clinched the draw with a late equaliser.
Tolka Park – Dublin
There were two Irish international soccer matches played at Tolka Park in Drumcondra, Dublin. Both were against Wales and both were friendlies. Wales won the first match, beating the Republic 1-3 on 24 February 1981. Tony Grealish scored what turned out to be Ireland’s consolation goal. Almost precisely 12 years later Ireland exacted revenge beating the Welsh 2-1 in front of 9,500 fans. Kevin Sheedy and Tommy Coyne (who both qualified for Ireland via the Granny Rule) scored for the home team. Tolka Park is currently the home ground of League of Ireland club Shelbourne FC.
Flower Lodge – Cork
Flower Lodge in Cork was the home of the famous Cork Hibernians club. During the celebrations for Cork’s 800th anniversary the FAI staged a full Irish international match against Spain on 26th May 1985 in the ground. In front of a crowd of 15,000 the teams played out a 0-0 draw. A year later the owners of Flower Lodge sold the ground to the GAA who subsequently renamed it Pairc Ui Rinn.
RDS – Royal Dublin Society
The RDS has played host to a small number of Republic of Ireland international matches. On 19th February 1992 once again Wales came calling and once again the Welsh took the spoils, winning 0-1. Second and third matches were played at the RDS on 25th & 28th May 2010 when World Cup qualifiers Paraguay and Algeria played the Republic in friendlies. The Republic beat Paraguay 2-1 and Algeria 3-0 with Robbie Keane scoring his 42nd and 43rd goals of his international career. More commonly associated with show jumping the RDS was the home of Shamrock Rovers for more than half of the 1990’s. The ground also hosted two FAI Cup Finals in 2007 and 2008.
Croke Park – Dublin
Croke Park is the head of the Gaelic Athletic Association or GAA. This football ground has considerable historical and emotional significance to many Irish people. There had always been a ban on foreign games being played at Croke Park. With the demolition of Lansdowne Road the Irish international soccer team was left with little choice but to play home matches in the UK. After much angst and internal wrangling the GAA graciously decided to open up Croke Park to Irish international soccer.
On a truly historic occasion (once again) the Welsh international team was the first team to play a soccer match against the Republic of Ireland at Croke Park. In a Euro 2008 qualifier on 24 March 2007 Ireland beat Wales 1-0. In front of a crowd of 72,500 Manchester City’s Stephen Ireland had the distinction of scoring the first international soccer goal ever scored at Croke Park.
Thomond Park – Limerick
Thomond Park in Limerick hosted the first home Irish football international match outside of Dublin in the 2000’s. The legendary home of Munster rugby hosted a friendly match between the Republic of Ireland and Australia on Wednesday, 12 August 2009. A crowd of 19,428 turned up to see Giovanni Trapattoni’s Irish team beaten 0-3 by a very competitive Australian side.
It was a disappointing result on a night that history was made. A full Irish home international had never been played in a venue outside of Dublin or Cork. Thomond Park is steeped in Rugby history and was the scene of the famous Munster victory over the mighty All Blacks in 1978. Munster became the first, and remain the only, Irish rugby team to beat the New Zealanders. Amazingly Munster almost repeated the feat again in 2008 on a night when the New Zealand players in the Munster squad performed a ‘Munster Haka’.
Irish Football Grounds – Dublin Soccer Pitches
Aviva Stadium – Dalymount Park – Lansdowne Road – Tallaght Stadium