Monday, February 7, 2011

7 February 1891 - The Wins Were Few And Far Between

On 7 February 1891, Ireland beat Wales 7-2 to record only their second-ever victory--almost four years after the first one.

The Irish FA was founded in 1880 and fielded their first side in 1882, making them the fourth country to produce a national team (after England, Scotland, and Wales). That first match did not augur good things, however, as Ireland were on the wrong end of a 13-0 pounding by England. They finally got their very first victory in March 1887, beating Wales 4-1.

By 1891, Ireland had returned to form, losing 11 consecutive matches (including a crushing 11-0 defeat to Wales in 1888). The last two defeats in that run of futility came in the 1891 British Home Championship, where the Irish lost a close 2-1 decision to Scotland, then fell to England 6-1. So there was little reason for optimism other than the fact that Wales had performed almost as poorly, suffering their own losses to Scotland (4-3) and England (6-1).

On the day, however, Ireland overwhelmed the visiting Welsh team with a four goals from forward Olphie Stanfield en route to a dominant 7-2 victory. The Irish team that day included Ulster half-back Jack Reynolds (pictured), whose play attracted the attention of West Brom. After moving to the Hawthorns later that year, Reynolds revealed that he had been born in England. He subsequently switched to the English national team and remains the only person to play for both nations.

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