THE 1979-80 season was the first time in 20 years that the League of Ireland title had been won by Limerick.
The draw for the 1980-1981 European Cup was the stuff of dreams from a Limerick perspective. Eoin Hand’s ‘Blues’ were pitted against Spanish and European aristocrats Real Madrid.
The home leg against six-time Champions of Europe, Real was played on this day 40 years ago, September 17, 1980 at Lansdowne Road.
Alas, the switching of the game to the Dublin 4 venue resulted in a paltry attendance witnessing one of Limerick’s best ever European performances.
The Spanish champions had on parade a side which upwards of IR£4 million of talent and their sharpshooters, who had killed off Bilbao 7-1 in their domestic league the previous Sunday, were fancied to run up a sizeable winning margin against their part-time opponents.
But it didn't work out that way on the pitch. Indeed, for most of the journey it was difficult to tell which was the professional side.
The brave Blues suffered an unfortunate 2-1 defeat to mighty Madrid. Real, containing 11 players of international class, were certainly made fight all the way, and after Johnny Matthews had a ‘goal’ disallowed, Des Kennedy put Limerick into a shock lead in the second half.
The shock of the season looked possible until Real were awarded a controversial penalty from which the visitors scored. A late winner gave the Spanish champions a hollow victory.
LIMERICK UNITED: Fitzpatrick, Nolan, Nodwell, O'Mahony, Storan, Hand, Duggan, Hulmes, Kennedy, Walsh, Matthews. Subs: Meaney for Hand, Morris for Duggan.
REAL MADRID: Angel, Garcia, Benito, Gallezo, Camancho, Angel, Hernandez, Stielike, Juanito, Isidro, Cunningham. Subs: Peneda for Benito.
REFEREE: Mr Ammerson (Denmark)