To celebrate 20 years since the League of Ireland switched to summer football, we give you 20 connections the league has had with pop music.
- Richmond Park, home to St Patrick’s Athletic FC, hosted Dublin’s first open air rock concert in 1970. Featuring Mungo Jerry and Thin Lizzy, the gig was a flop, with just over 1,000 people attending.
- Thin Lizzy headlined what was billed as “Dublin’s first major open air rock festival” at Dalymount Park in 1977. With over 10,000 fans, the gig was a success and set the way for six more festivals to be held at the Bohemian FC ground. Status Quo headlined in 1979, Bob Marley in 1980, Meatloaf 1982, Black Sabbath 1983, and finally the two Sunstroke Festivals headed by Faith No More in 1993 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1994.
- Three Dalymount concerts were cancelled at the last minute causing mayhem for promoters. The Beach Boys (1977) and The Specials (1981) pulled out suddenly, and Destiny’s Child (2001) moved their Jam In the Park event to the Point because Dalymount was deemed unsafe.
- David Balfe from For Those I Love, unfurled a Shelbourne FC flag with ‘Coolock Reds’ on it during his performance of I Have a Love on the Jools Holland TV show in 2020.
- A Shelbourne FC flag was draped over the coffin of club CEO Ollie Byrne at his funeral in 2007. Byrne was prominent in the Irish rock scene of the 1960s & ’70s, promoting and managing various rock groups and venues (Thin Lizzy, Skid Row, Dingos Rock Place).
- Ex LOI players Kevin Moran, Ashley Grimes (Bohs) and Paul McGrath (St Pats) can all boast that they recorded in the same studio as Joy Division and the Smiths because they sang on the top 20 UK hit, Glory Glory, Man United, recorded at Strawberry Studios, Stockport in April 1983.
- The “Ooh! Aah! Paul McGrath” chant is based on the Gap Bands 1979 hit, Oops Upside Your Head.
- Paul McGrath reached No 1 in the Irish Charts in 1990, with Ooh! Aah! Paul McGrath, a song he rapped on with members of Zrazy and the Partisans performing under the name Watch Your House. Carole Nelson, who wrote the song, said, “we got pursued for royalties by the lads who put out Oops Upside Your Head and this song couldn’t get airplay then in Ireland.”
- Shamrock Rovers are known as the Hoops and in the 1980s some of their fans published a fanzine called Hoops Upside Your Head. (A great name, but don’t tell the Gap Band)
- Teams with music nicknames Include Harps (Finn Harps), Drums (Drumcondra) and The Blues (Waterford).
- LOI soccer pundit Stuart Byrne, who won four league titles with Shels and Drogheda in the Noughties, grew up in Cedarwood Rd, Finglas, where Bono and Gavin Friday also grew up. A brother of DJ Kelly-Anne Byrne, Stuart is also a singer songwriter and released his album Maybe Not Today in 2020.
- Brendan Tallon singer and guitarist with Revelhino and The Coltranes, played with Bohemians in the 1980s.
- Bagatelle drummer Wally McConville is the brother of the late Brian and Tommy McConville, who both played for Dundalk FCin the 1970s.
- The DundalkFCcrest features three little birds. When Natty Wailer (who played with Bob Marley at Dalymount in 1980) entertained the crowd at halftime at the Bohs vs Dundalk match in 2019, he sang Three Little Birds – to the delight of the visiting fans.
- The cover sleeve of the Undertones 1980 hit My Perfect Cousin depicts a Subbuteo player wearing the Derry City FC colours.
- Phil Coulter was once Chairman at Derry City FC. His son Ryan played in goal for six League of Ireland clubs between 2009 and 2017.
- Nicky Byrne (Westlife) played in goal for Cobh Ramblers in 1997.
- The Sligo boy band IOU performed during halftime at Sligo Rovers FC in 1997. The following year Nicky Byrne (ex Cobh 1997) and Bryan McFadden joined IOU to become Westlife.
- Brian McMahon, from this parish, and member of early 80s post-punk band Choice played LOI with Monaghan Utd in 1987.
- Colm O Snodaigh from traditional Irish folk group Kila played with Rovers, Shels, UCD and was a squad member with Bray Wanderers when they won the 1990 FAI cup final.
Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro
Crowd at Thin Lizzy in Dalymount Park, 21st August 1977.
Photo courtesy of Tadhg Coughlan, Frank Ryan’s Bar.