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Football: FLASHBACK... 1984 UCD win the FAI Cup: The Students graduated in Cup folklore.

Byline: By OWEN COWZER

AT THE START of the 1983/84 season, UCD left back Martin Moran was asked by a friend how he thought the Students would do that year.

Moran shrugged his shoulders, told him Shamrock Rovers would easily win the league but UCD were good enough to be in with a shout in the FAI Cup.

His friend took his advice, put pounds 100 on UCD to claim the Cup at 66/1 and made a very handsome profit when the students beat Shamrock Rovers in a replay at Dalymount Park.

Moran, who is now considered a UCD great having played and managed the club, looks back fondly at that victory 21 years ago.

''It was a fantastic achievement for the club and I still can't believe that it hasn't been repeated,'' he said. ''We had a very good team but were underestimated by the media.

''I don't think it was that we weren't rated but because the Shamrock Rovers team of that era was so good.''

Between 1984 and 1987, Shamrock Rovers were the dominant force in Irish football winning four league titles and three FAI Cups. Their one blemish was also UCD's greatest achievement.

''That Shamrock Rovers team was winning league titles by the proverbial mile and only for us, they would have won four League and Cup doubles in a row.

''But we had a very good team - Paddy Dunning and Alan O'Neill were former internationals, Joe Hanrahan ended up playing for Manchester United and Ken O'Doherty for Crystal Palace - so it's no surprise that we did as well as we did.''

The Cup final itself was really a case of the good, the bad and the ugly.

''The first match was on a Friday night at Dalymount Park on a rock hard pitch. It was 0-0 and awful,'' confesses Martin.

''Before the replay five days later, they watered the pitch and it was much better. We took an early lead when Joe Hanrahan scored after a mazy dribble, then won a penalty before half time but missed it through Ken O'Doherty.

''I remember at half-time, although we were leading, there was a huge argument in our dressing room. I can't remember why but in the second-half, that missed penalty came back to haunt us.

''They won a penalty when Paddy Dunning fouled Liam Buckley. Jacko (McDonagh) hammered it home and it looked like extra time.

''But in the fifth minute of injury time, we won a free kick and Ken O'Doherty insisted he was going forward for it. I remember telling him to stay back because it was so late as were Tony O'Neill and Theo Dunne (the management team).

''But Ken then scored the winner and there was hardly time for Rovers to kick off before the end of the game.

''It was a great occasion for the club and we celebrated. I remember speaking to Robbie Gaffney who told me that when Rovers won Cups, they celebrated for the night - we celebrated for the proverbial month.''

In the European Cup Winners' Cup, UCD were drawn with Everton, drawing 0-0 at Tolka Park before losing 1-0 away from home in a game that they almost snatched a draw and with it victory on away goals.

''Peter Reid says that was their hardest tie of the season and they won the competition which just shows how good a team we were.''

Looking back now, Moran admits he is most delighted for manager, the late Dr Tony O'Neill.

''I can honestly say, I am now more delighted for Tony. As a player it passes you by but, having been a manager myself, I know you think a lot more about it and I know how much it must have meant to him.''

CAPTION(S):

ROLE: Liam Buckley starred for Rovers in the 1984 Cup final; CLASH IN EUROPE: Peter Reid
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 3, 2005
Words:646
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