WHEN Limerick recorded their first FAI Cup success with a 3-0 final replay win over Drogheda United in 1971, their prize included a golden ticket in the following season's European Cup Winners' Cup.
The draw for the Cup Winners' Cup pitted Limerick against the mighty Torino, who had won the 1970-1971 Coppa Italia on penalties after a 5-3 win over an AC Milan team which included former Rep of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni in their line-up.
Limerick were drawn at home in the first leg in their tie against the side from Turin. Two of the other European heavyweights Limerick might have drawn were Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
The game against the Italian Cup winners took place at Thomond Park on Thursday, September 15, 1971.
Despite a gallant display from the home side, Torino would go on to win the game 1-0, with 22-year-old Rosario Rampanti scoring in the 8th minute to bring the advantage back to Turin.
The Limerick Leader report on the fixture opened, “We were a better team than Torino.”
This was the comment from Limerick skipper Al Finucane after this tension-packed tie at Thomond Park.
“I couldn't agree more with him, for indeed Limerick, in inspired mood, outplayed the Italian champions from start to finish.
“Unfortunately, Torino had 1 up on the locals, and this, unfortunately, was on the scoreboard, the Italians taking the laurels with a soft, tragic goal, scored by Rossario Rampanti in the seventh minute.”
The report continued: “I'll pass no apology to anyone for this was one of Limerick's greatest displays in the club's history, one they can be proud of and recall with relish for many years to come.
“All I can say to the people who stayed away - and how sorry I am to say that there were many of them - is this - you missed a tremendous game and your team was very unlucky to lose. The worst they deserved, in my opinion, was a draw.”
LIMERICK: Kevin Fitzpatrick, Vincent Quinn, Sean Byrnes, Richie Hall, Al Finucane, Joe O'Mahony, Paddy Shortt, Andy McEvoy, Dave Barrett, Shamie Coad, Tony Meaney. Sub: Eddie Donovan for Paddy Shortt (85 mins).
TORINO: Castellini, Mozzini, Fossati, Zecchini, Cereaer, Agroppi, Rampanti, Ferrini, Pulici, Saia, Toachi. Subs: Bui for Pulici (65 mins), Crevelli for Saia (76 mins).
REFEREE: Mr R McKenzie (Scotland)
TWO weeks later Limerick's luck ran out in the return leg in Turin on September 29, losing 4-0 to their hosts in Turin,
A hat-trick from Giovanni Toschi putting the tie beyond all doubt, with Livio Luppi rounding out the scoreboard.
The headline that ran the following week was apt: 'Limerick Swamped in Second Half', it read.