Shay Gibbons

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Shay Gibbons (19 May 1929 – 9 June 2006) was an Irish international footballer who was regarded as one of the top players in the League of Ireland in the 1950s. He is still the holder of match, season and all-time scoring records with St Patrick's Athletic.

Early career[edit]

As a youth Gibbons played both football and Gaelic football. He was selected for the Dublin senior squad aged 17 but Gibbons first love was soccer and when the GAA ban on foreign games made him choose, he gave up football. As a schoolboy football with Home Farm, Gibbons would win every honour in the Dublin schoolboy leagues. Despite offers from several League of Ireland sides, Gibbons chose to play with local junior side Whitehall Rangers. He earned his first international cap when called up to the Irish amateur side in a game against Scotland in Hampden Park in 1948. It was on this trip he struck a friendship with St Patrick's Athletic defender Jimmy Cummins. Cummins tried to persuade Gibbons to sign for St. Pats, who at that time were the top non league side in the country. Gibbons signed for St. Pats in March 1951 and the team would go on to win the Leinster Senior League. In the summer of 1951, St. Patrick’s Athletic were elected to the League of Ireland.

Glorious Fifties[edit]

The 1951/52 season would see Gibbons and St Pats stun Irish football by winning the league championship in their first season. Gibbons was the top scorer in the league with 26 goals in 22 games. In May 1952, only 15 months after playing non league football, Gibbons made his debut for the Republic of Ireland senior team in Cologne against Germany. In 1952/53 Gibbons was again the League's top scorer with 22 goals in 22 games, including five in one game against Raich Carter's Cork Athletic. The 1953/54 season was a disappointing season for Gibbons as he struggled with only 9 goals. He did however win his 2nd full international cap in a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg [1].

He was controversially dropped for the 1954 FAI Cup final and St. Pats lost to Drumcondra. In 1954/55 Gibbons scored 28 goals as St. Pats won the league for the second time. The following season he again topped the league scoring charts with 21 goals as St. Pats won an amazing 3rd league title in their first five years [2]. He earned the last two of his four international caps in the autumn of 1955 in games with Yugoslavia [3] and Spain [4]. Throughout his St Pats career Gibbons played many times for the League of Ireland selection at a time when they were seen as equal to full international games. Gibbons only played a handful of games for St. Pats in 1956/57 season but still managed to score 2 goals to bring his St. Pats tally to 108 goals in little over 5 seasons.

After St. Patrick's Athletic[edit]

Gibbons had a short spell with Holyhead in the Welsh League in 1956 but returned to the league to play for Cork Hibernians at the end of the 1956/57 season, scoring one goal. The following season he joined Dundalk and scored 11 goals. He retired from professional football at the relatively young age of 30 in 1959. From 1960 until his death in 2006, Gibbons led a very quiet life. He was a regular visitor to St. Pats home ground of Richmond Park where he was treated as an idol. Following his death (by natural causes) St. Pats fans have pushed for a permanent memorial to one of their greatest ever players to be produced.

At the end of the 2012 League of Ireland season Gibbons is twenty third in the all-time League of Ireland goalscoring list with 120 league goals [1]

Honours[edit]

  • League of Ireland; 1951/52, 1954/55, 1955/56
  • Dublin City Cup winner; 1953/54, 1955/56
  • LFA President's Cup winner; 1952/53, 1953/54, 1955/56
  • League of Ireland top scorer; 1951/52, 1952/53, 1955/56
  • Republic of Ireland Full International caps; 4

St. Patrick's Athletic Records[edit]

  • All time highest scorer; 108 goals
  • Most goals in a single season; 28 in 1954/55
  • Most goals in one game; 5 v Cork Athletic in 1952/53
  • Most international caps for Ireland; 4

References[edit]

External links[edit]