Of the many players who played in the famous green and white hoops of Shamrock Rovers, the deeds of some very special performers continue to live on. Today Robert Goggins takes a look at Paddy Moore who was reckoned by those who saw him play to be a very special and delightful talent.
On this day, 9th May back in 1931, Paddy Moore scored the goal that brought the FAI Cup to Milltown for a record three successes in a row and four times altogether. “Shamrock Rovers Create New Soccer Record” was the headline in the following day’s Sunday Independent. Apart from winning the much-sought-after trophy yet again the achievement was a measure of the success that had been gained by a club that only ten years previously had been playing in the Leinster Junior League. Their opponents in 1931 were Dundalk but it took two attempts to shake off the challenge of the northern side.
The full match report is reproduced here:
“SHAMROCK ROVERS, at Dalymount Park yesterday, associated their name with another outstanding record, in winning the Free State Cup for the third successive season, and four times in all, while they have appeared in six of ten finals played to date. The value of their feat is emphasised by the fact that no other team has taken the trophy more than once.
The 1-1 draw of three weeks ago was disappointing and occasionally dull. The football in the replay was fast and fitfully fierce. The former cautiousness was replaced by confidence, seen in all-out efforts, a willingness to take risks and knocks, and, generally, a speedy, strenuous struggle that will be remembered as one of the best of the series, in all the essentials of excitement, keenness, and closeness and uncertainty of the issue, though not quite so spectacular.
It was hardly a case in which it is correct to say that the winners were worth their victory. Rather is it more justifiable to aver that the vanquished did not merit failure at the end of ninety minutes.
Rovers, as befits Cup champions, a title based on their record, were cool in crises, and did things with a large measure of deliberateness, though necessarily quickly. How much they benefited by the reappearance of the veteran Fullam, an inspiring force in their fortunes, can be judged by their greater earnestness and steadiness in attack, and by the return to keep goal of O’Reilly, whose presence had an influence on the fulls, as seen in their greater freedom of movement.
It looked as if Burke and Chervi, however, especially in the first half, were inclined to take too much liberties, as they went very far afield and kept too much apart, though the danger of this policy was minimised by their alert mobility, seen in their rapid recovery and promptitude in shifting with the scene of the attacks.
This strategy appeared part of a plan of the respective lines to keep in close contact with each other. For that reason the halves- were able to force the advances, besides taking their share of defence. In both respects none did better than Kinsella, even allowing for the self-evident fact that both Glen and Caulfield ably goth through their heavy work.
The forwards had always to be feared. They evinced a nice sense of the needs of the situation in making the ball move. Moore was clearly a marked man as was seen from the close attention given him by both McKeown and McDiarmid. His chances were few, really two of an open character, and even the one he used to get the goal that decided the issue was the outcome of his cleverness in running to the inside right position to get and make his successful shot.
Dundalk made a bold bid. They, like Rovers, were so much better than they were in the indecisive bout, that they were at their best. In summing up their fortunes and efforts, it could not be gainsaid that at the worst they earned at least the right to have their fate decided in the second period to score that spectators in the vicinity loudly supported.
Faint-heartedness was suggested by their subsidence, after the score. In the few minutes that passed between that point and the interval the fire had vanished from their efforts. On resuming they showed no immediate signs of recovery, till Reed, a potent pivot at this point, persevered in his promptings to revitalise the whole team whose attack was then led by Firth, instead of McCourt, who in that role, in the first half did not fully realise the possibilities of the position.
In the latter’s case the change was effective for he was more dangerous at outside right, but not too lucky, as on any other day he would have equalised with the fierce first-time shot which O’Reilly was providentially placed to stop and save at the post without having to make a move.
Dundalk’s failure could in a sense be attributable to the momentum of their moves. It carried them too far. They had no man of the temperament of Moore, cool enough to make the most of a chance when it came. In any other respect they shared the honours. Tersely, they merit as much in defeat as if they had won, which would have been their fate, on their display, in the majority of the nine previous finals.
THE GOLDEN GOAL
The duel was dour, fast, swaying, with nothing, when its fluctuations are analysed, between the- teams territorially. Dundalk, down the incline, in the first half, made the most of their pace, but failed in their search for an early score. Gradually the issue became knit, and exchanges steadied, but the mad pace did not slacken. Because every chance was used – the goalkeepers were constantly in action and both were reliable. Eventually McMullan had the bigger burden to bear, but he was blameless when in 37 minutes Moore, going to the right of the box to take a pass from Flood, cleverly, coolly, but quickly turned on the ball to shoot it low down into the net for the golden goal. Rovers did not sit down on that lead in the second half. Early they shaped like increasing it, but Dundalk, shaking off a faint-hearted lethargy, became again galvanised, and battered awayfor twenty minutes or more for the equaliser. McCourt deserved it with that first time drive into the hands of O’Reilly at the post, and McCahill, a Cup-fighting forward of the traditional type, went near obtaining it when he volleyed the ball to the back of the upright. There were other tremors of this kind to the end, and they served to supply thrills in the triumph of Rovers, in which O’Reilly in the crucial fading minutes played a prominent part.”
‘Sacky’ Glen, Tom Caulfield, Paddy Moore and Joseph Golding all turned out again the following evening at Dalymount Park to play for a Shelbourne Selected side against Bohemians in a charity game for St. Vincent de Paul. Imagine that happening these days. What did our boys do the day after winning the Cup last November? Just imagine them returning to the Aviva Stadium the following night to play in another
As the decade of the 1930s began many of the old faces that had pioneered Shamrock Rovers’ cause in the 1920s had moved on. Of the famous ‘Four F’s’ only Bob Fullam and John Joe Flood remained. Paddy Moore joined Shamrock Rovers for the 1930/31 season. He had previously played junior football with Orwell, Bendigo and Richmond Rovers – three of Dublin’s top junior clubs. He was known as a ‘pocket-sized wizard’ such was his genius and his height, or rather lack of it, Paddy stood at just 5’ 4”. There’s a strange similarity in describing Paddy to the present Jack Byrne. Like Jack, Paddy also hailed from the north inner city. A scribe once wrote of him: “Give Paddy the ball on the ground and he will produce a new rabbit out of the hat any time. Always he was going the way you thought he wasn’t. Always he seemed to be between any would-be tackler and the ball. You wouldn’t take that ball off him and there was no use in asking for it back. Look in the net for it if you want it!”
Paddy had scored for Rovers in the 1931 drawn final against Dundalk when he lined out as inside right. The following year, occupying the centre forward berth, he also got the winner in the decider against Dolphin. He returned again in 1936 and got one of the goals in the 2-1 win against Cork to help the Hoops win the cup for the seventh time.
The football genius had spells at Cardiff City and Aberdeen but his heart was always in Glenmalure Park. Long after he retired from the game Paddy continued to go to Milltown where he helped train the team and offered no little advice. Players were always glad to hear him speak; they valued his opinion.
It’s no secret that Paddy Moore had a drink problem. So serious was it that it was to ultimately cost him his life. He died in relatively poor circumstances in 1951 and his grave at Glasnevin Cemetery was unmarked until a headstone was erected in 2014. His son, Pat junior, contacted Shamrock Rovers for help and the club’s then Heritage Trust, with the aid of some supporters and the Glasnevin Trust, ensured that a headstone would be erected. It was the least we could do for a man who graced the hallowed turf of Milltown with his exceptional skills.
When researching for ‘The Hoops’ book back in the early 1990s whenever the name of Paddy Moore came up I noticed it was recalled with great fondness. Men such as John Fullam senior, John ‘Danny Boy’ Cleary and Sonny O’Reilly were unanimous in their valued opinion that Paddy Moore was truly one of the greatest ever player to have donned the green and white.