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Sheeran returns to spiritual home

After a long absence the Sheeran Cup is on the way back to it's spiritual home as the final of this season's competition will be held in Tolka Park.

It has been confirmed by Leinster Football League president Tony O'Dowd that both the Sheeran and Dalton Cup finals will be staged at the northside venue.

Securing the famous ground represented a good day's work for the LFL president whose connections in Irish soccer were utilised to good effect.

At one stage Tolka was the natural home for the Sheeran showdown, the LFL's blue ribbon competition.

"We're delighted to announce that the Sheeran and the Dalton cup finals will be played Tolka," said the LFL president. "It's great for the league because Tolka Park was where the Sheeran was played 30 years ago.

"Holding the finals there is a big incentive for the players in the Leinster Football League. It's a chance for them to turn out in one of the best known National League of Ireland grounds," he added.

For years the big cup finals in the various amateur leagues were played at venues such as Tolka and Dalymount Park.



summer

With the advent of summer soccer securing these grounds proved more problematic -- until now.

"I would like to thank Shelbourne for their help and support, without their co-operation of course this wouldn't have been possible. People like Shay Whefer and Joe Casey really worked with us on this issue."

Over the years Tolka Park has hosted numerous big games including FAI Cup finals and even full internationals.

The last international at the ground was in 1993 when the Republic of Ireland defeated Wales 2-1 in a friendly with Kevin Sheedy and Tommy Coyne netting for the home side. Tolka was the home of the famous Drumcondra and of course Shelbourne. One of the most famous players to turn out for the Reds was Eric Barber.

He has strong connections with the Drimnagh area and would have been very familiar with Galty Celtic in the 1950s and 1960s when they were then one of the kingpins of the amateur game.

Galty Celtic went out of existence but are now back on the road with two teams in the Leinster Football League.

Barber won two senior caps with the Republic of Ireland in the mid-1960s. His debut came in the first leg of a World Cup play-off in Seville in 1965.

The squad were flying out on a Monday but that morning Barber had to pay a visit to the old Mercer's Hospital to get treatment for a toothache. He was given an injection and woke up about the time the plane was about to leave.

Fortunately for him the flight was delayed as an SOS went out for him. He eventually made it to the airport and caught the flight. Barber admitted afterwards he should never have played. He hardly touched the ball and Ireland lost 4-1. Which brings us to the great Philip Greene. He was commenting on the game for Radio Eireann. At the end he delivered the immortal line: "Seville where they grow oranges but for Ireland it's only bitter lemon."


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