With a reputation of being one of the largest junior soccer competitions in Europe, the FAI Junior Cup holds a special merited place in Irish sport. Annually, the honour of lifting the cup is a dream for 600+ junior football clubs throughout Ireland who take part.
St. Michael’s AFC in Tipperary Town has two proud distinctions with regard this blue riband competition. They were the first County Tipperary club to win the trophy back in 1974 and also they are now the only County Tipperary club to have won the competition twice, being victorious again exactly four decades later in 2014.
But it is the heroes of 1974 who we have chosen as one of County Tipperary’s greatest ever sporting moments.
The 1974 final itself was played in Tolka Park in Dublin against the home side, Tolka Rovers, who were red hot favourites to prevail. Going for three-in-a-row on the day few expected Tolka to encounter much difficulty. However, at half-time, at 0-0, it was still anyone’s game.
Early in the second half team captain Billy Lonergan put St. Michael’s ahead only for Tolka Rovers to equalise five minutes later. After 90 minutes the game finished 1-1 and extra- time was played for first ever time in a Junior Final.
The late Mickey McDonnell from Cashel put Saints ahead in the first period before Mickey Morey made it 3-1 with minutes to go to forever wrap up this piece of football history for St. Michael’s and for County Tipperary.
Today, nearly half a century on the win is fondly and rightly remembered as one of Tipp’s greatest sporting moments.