Paddy Mulligan on the all-Ireland XI that faced Brazil

Former Ireland defender tells Team 33 about taking part in the 1973 fixture which mixed players from North and South

BY Raf Diallo 13:40 Wednesday 3 May 2017, 13:40 3 May 2017

Back row (L-R) Miah Denehy, David Craig, Paddy Mulligan, Martin O'Neill, Allan Hunter and Liam O'Kane. Front Row(L-R) Bryan Hamilton, Pat Jennings, Johnny Giles, Don Givens, Terry Conroy and Mick Martin. recreat the team photo from the 'All Ireland Shamrock Rovers X1 who played Brazil on July 3rd 1973 Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

For those at the old Landsdowne Road on July 3rd  1973, not only did they see a thrilling encounter against the then World Champions but also a little bit of history. 

For that day an Irish side composed of players from the Republic and North national sides played on the same team - under the name of Shamrock Rovers XI -  against 1970 World Cup winners Brazil featuring that tournament's Silver Boot winner Jairzinho, who would score in every game he played in at that year's tournament. Brazil would prevail 4-3 in an exciting occasion.

Former Republic of Ireland, Chelsea and West Brom defender Paddy Mulligan was part of that team, standing between current Ireland boss and former Northern Ireland international Martin O'Neill and ex-Northern Ireland and Newcastle player David Craig in the team photo.

Speaking to Newstalk's Team 33 this week, Paddy looked back on the memories of that day and how he first got involved in a landmark event at the height of The Troubles.

"It was for the charity UNICEF and Louis Kilcoyne [then Shamrock Rovers owner] and John Giles and Derek Dougan got together and decided could they get an all-Ireland team under the guise of a Shamrock Rovers XI," said Paddy.

"And of course different players were approached about availability and so on and all the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland lads made themselves available and I was lucky enough to be picked in the squad and eventually in the team against the Brazilians.

"The one regret I would have over that game would be the fact that the late, great George Best wasn't available unfortunately. It would have great to see him show off his skills against the Brazilians. That was a pity from my viewpoint." 

You can listen to Paddy's memories of that match against Brazil at the end of this week's podcast: 

According to a book by author Cormac Moore, George Best was very much in favour of an Ireland national team made up of all parts of this island.

And despite the situation and tensions in the North at the time, the issue of politics never came up among the players involved.

"It was a magnificent night and a magnificent performance and we all got on like a house on fire," he said, before touching on the backdrop of The Troubles.

"That's what made it all the more remarkable. So many people from different backgrounds could gel together and it was just magnificent. I was playing double centre half with Allan Hunter. David Craig was in the team, Martin O'Neill was in the team, Liam O'Kane was there, Brian Hamilton and of course the great Derek Dougan. So it was a great mix altogether and Pat Jennings of course played in goal and Alan Kelly was reserve goalkeeper from the Republic.

"The camaraderie was absolutely brilliant and one man has got to be mentioned and was central to all this camaraderie, that was the late, great Liam Tuohy who was the manager of the Irish team." 

On the back of pushing the Brazilians close in a seven goal thriller, he added: "It was a great to see what an all-Ireland team could achieve because I hark back to 1958 when Northern Ireland were in the World Cup in Sweden and got to the quarter finals despite being bedeviled by injuries. I remember saying to my late Dad and Mum, 'God, wouldn't it be great if there was an all-Ireland team and how far they could have got?' But I didn't know about the politics of the whole situation at that stage as a 12-13 year old young lad."

However, there appeared to be consequences for Derek Dougan, who co-organised the game with Giles, with the then Northern Ireland international not being capped again after 1973.  

"Derek Dougan sadly never played for the North of Ireland after that. Harry Cavan, who was the IFA President at the time, decided that Dougan was one of the instigators of having an all-Ireland team and he was never picked after that. I know he was coming towards the end of his career but still he would have had a lot to offer Northern Ireland."   

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