Jun 252009

Remember that era when there was still some romance left in the European Cup, that time before the money men took over and UeFa capitulated to pay-per view?

Back in 1980/81 Limerick United went into the hat for the European Cup draw after being crowned LOI champions for the second time in their history the previous season.

Would it be a trip to the arsehole of eastern European to take on Dynamo whatever – or maybe the mighty Reds of Liverpool?

Nope, it was neither. Limerick were drawn against the aristocrats of world soccer, Real Madrid, home and away. The Galacticos were coming to town. Well not quite, because Limerick soccer chiefs decided to play the first leg to Landsdowne Road, Dublin. Imagine if we had them in Thomond Park lads?

Just over 6,000 showed up to watch Lims play Madrid off the field only to lose out 2-1 – Limerick’s Johnny Matthews  being denied a perfectly legitimate goal following a dodgy linesman’s flag. The Spaniards were also awarded a dubious penalty at IRFU headquarters.

Des Kennedy netted for Limerick in Dublin and he also rattled the rigging in the Bernabeau in the return leg, which Madrid won 5-1 to advance to the 2nd round 7-2 on aggregate. Does anyone know of another Irishman who scored home and away against Real Madrid in the European Cup? Don’t bother googling because there is none.

Incidentally, Madrid conceded just four goals en route to the European Cup final that year where they were beaten 1-0. And it was another Kennedy, Alan, of the mighty Liverpool, who netted the only goal of the game for the Merseyside giants in Paris.

Those were the glory days. But these days the club is in financial difficulty and needs your help. As the mighty Munster routinely fill Thomond Park with 26,000 supporters, Limerick FC eke out an existence on average crowds of 400.

They currently occupy a mid-table position in the First Division.

Manager Pat Scully, the former Shamrock Rovers boss, has put a fine young side together and the club have unveiled some very ambitious plans for the future. However, the financial situation at the club is rapidly becoming untenable. Jack McCarthy, a New Jersey based lawyer, is Chairman of Limerick FC and has very generously dipped into his own pocket to keep the club afloat. But McCarthy, who has family ties in Kilkenny and Clare, has stressed the importance of further funding to reach their goal of self sufficiency.

The club needs €70,000 immediately and has already received significant contributions from local business people. A lottery has been set up for ordinary supporters to help out at a cost of â€21 per month, and all other voluntary contributions will be welcomed to help the club survive.

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