When Ireland set their record winning margin

It was an 8-0 win against Malta 34 years ago and Kevin Sheedy was making his first international start

BY Raf Diallo 16:24 Thursday 6 April 2017, 16:24 6 Apr 2017

Ireland's Liam Brady ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Back in October 2014, Gibraltar's newly formed international team arrived in Dublin to take on Ireland in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

As minnows in the group, it was an opportunity for an Ireland side with qualification ambitions to make sure of three points but also do something to boost goal difference.

And boost goal difference Ireland did, putting seven goals past the team accepted by UEFA as a full member just over a year earlier.

To this day, that 7-0 defeat remains Gibraltar's joint heaviest defeat as an official international side. Four days earlier, Poland had beaten them by the exact same scoreline. And eight months later in the same group, Germany beat them by the same scoreline and then Poland thrashed them 8-1.

But the 7-0 win for Martin O'Neill's side was just shy of Ireland's record victory at international level.

For that, one would need to time travel back to 1983 towards the end of the Euro 84 qualifying campaign.

Kevin Sheedy on the night he scored against England at Italia 90. INPHO

It was November 16th 1983 at the former home of Irish football, Dalymount Park, and the Boys in Green had lost 3-2 to Netherlands the previous month thanks to goals from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten (five years before both men would score in the Euro 88 final as the Dutch won their first ever major tournament).

Ireland were essentially out of the running for qualification with Spain eventually taking top spot in a group which also featured the Dutch, Iceland and Malta.

Back in the days of two points for a win, Malta propped up the group and would provide Ireland's final opponents of the campaign. 

The names on the Irish team sheet that night include those who would go on to star at Euro 88 and Italia 90 like Packie Bonner and Kevin Moran. Frank Stapleton also led the line, while Mark Lawrenson, Chris Hughton and Liam Brady all started. 

But it was significant for another reason, as another hero of Euro 88 and Italia 90 would scores his first senior goals in the green shirt.

It was the night Everton's Kevin Sheedy would make his first start in the international fold by then Ireland boss Eoin Hand, having plied his trade underage and come on as a sub against the Dutch.

"We were confident of beating anyone home or away. Malta, we played them quite a few times and the 8-0 was a really good performance," he told Newstalk's Team 33 this week.

The Boys in Green would take 25 minutes before Mark Lawrenson would break the deadlock from range. But as soon as that happened, the floodgates opened.  

Frank Stapleton's penalty and Kevin O'Callaghan's angled drive from the left had Ireland 3-0 up heading into the break.

And Hand's team piled on more goals when they returned to the pitch after the break. Lawrenson won the ball down the left, played a one two and then finished coolly past the goalkeeper.

Liverpool's Lawrenson is outstanding from the existing (and rather grainy) footage from the match and he played a key role in Sheedy's first ever Ireland goal as the debutant played in his Merseyside derby rival and ex-Reds team-mate to finish past the keeper from close range.

Then Italy based Brady, who had just left Juventus for Sampdoria the previous year, showed skill and poise to find the bottom corner from the left side of the box.

Sheedy's hunt for goals wasn't over either as he latched onto a long pass out of defence, took the ball down, strode past the keeper at pace and side footed into the back of the net for 7-0.

And then the record goal! Brady chipped the ball across to the far post where it was headed into the path of ex-Manchester United midfielder Gerry Daly to tap in. 

And to this day that eighth goal has never been matched by any Ireland senior team but for Sheedy it was a first start to savour.

You can watch footage of the match here and listen back to Kevin Sheedy below:

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