Lansdowne Road – Irish Soccer’s New Home Ground
First Irish Soccer Match at Lansdowne Road
Lansdowne Road (now the Aviva Stadium) was the traditional home of Lansdowne RFC and home to IRFU international matches. While the first football international match was held on 23rd April 1927 against an Italian international eleven (Ireland lost 1-2 with Bob Fullam scoring the Irish goal) it was not until the 1970’s that Lansdowne regularly staged international soccer matches.
The next soccer international at the football ground after the first match in 1927 was 44 years later when the Italians came calling again in May 1971 for a 1972 European Championship Qualifier match.
As with the first match earlier in the century Ireland lost 1-2. Jimmy Conway of Fulham FC in England scored the Irish goal. There were just two more international matches, in 1972 against the Soviet Union and 1975 versus Switzerland, before Lansdowne Road became the first choice home of Irish International soccer.
Lansdowne Road – the Home of Irish Soccer
Due to the poor facilities at Dalymount Park and growing awareness of health and safety issues the FAI switched competitive international soccer matches to Lansdowne Road in the mid 1970’s. There were occasion,s when Lansdowne Road was unavailable, that the Republic of Ireland returned to Dalymount. One such occasion was on 16 November 1983 when the Republic recorded it’s largest victory – and 8-0 win over Malta. After this result all future competitive soccer internationals were played at Lansdowne Road until it’s demolition in 2007.
The Jack Charlton Era at Lansdowne Road
The first match of the Jack Charlton era was at Lansdowne Road and yet again the Welsh were involved. On 26 March 1986 Ireland lost 0-1 in a friendly match to an Ian Rush goal. The Lansdowne crowd of just 16,500 witnessed an inauspicious start to a golden era in Irish soccer. A sign of things to come was when Liam Brady scored a very good goal in a 1-0 win over mighty Brazil at Lansdowne.
Under Jack Charlton Lansdowne Park became something of a fortress and visiting teams found it very difficult to break down the Irish team. From 1986 to October 1993 the Irish were unbeaten in competitive matches. Included in this period was a notable 1-0 win over a very strong Spanish side in front of almost 50,000 fans. The Dalymount roar had been replaced by the Lansdowne roar. Ironically it was the Spanish that ended the unbeaten run on 13 October 1993, beating Ireland 1-3 at the IRFU headquarters. It was another 1-3 Lansdowne defeat at the hands of Austria that was harbinger of the end of Charlton’s time as Irish soccer manager.
Greatest Lansdowne Road Victory
Perhaps the greatest ever Lansdowne Road victory was when Ireland beat Holland 1-0 on 1st September 2001. Mick McCarthy was the manager of the Republic of Ireland and the Irish had been drawn with Portugal and Holland in the same 2002 World Cup Qualification Group. Very few people gave Ireland any hope of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.
McCarthy had managed to keep the Irish in contention in the group with just two matches to play. In the penultimate group 2 match Ireland and the Netherlands played out a fierce contest that was finally decided by a Jason McAteer goal after 68 minutes. The mighty Dutch had been beaten and the Lansdowne Road crowd went home contemplating a possible trip to Asia.
Last Irish Match at Lansdowne Road
The last Irish international soccer match at Lansdowne Road was a 5-0 victory over San Marino on 15 November 2006. It was a Euro 2008 qualifier and Robbie Keane scored the first International hat trick of his career. Andy Reid and Kevin Doyle added the other goals.
Republic of Ireland Record at Lansdowne Road
Ireland played a total of 126 international matches at Lansdowne Road and the Irish record is as follows:
Irish Football Grounds – Dublin Soccer Pitches
Aviva Stadium – Dalymount Park – Lansdowne Road – Tallaght Stadium