|Debut:||27-Aug-76, Presidents Cup, (a) Bohemians|
In preparation for the 1976-77 season Jim McLaughlin added just two players to his 1975-76 Championship-winning panel—Mick Lawlor and Frank Devlin. Since starting with Drumcondra in its last season of 1971-72, Frank had since then been with Home Farm, except for a short spell in 1972-73 with Bohemians.
He was on the last Drumcondra team to lineout in the League of Ireland, a 1-1 draw against Shelbourne at Tolka Park on April 5th 1972, and he also lined with Home Farm (playing as Home Farm-Drumcondra) in their first League season, being the only Drumcondra player to subsequently play with the Farm.
A big strong forthright and honest centre-forward, he was highly effective at shielding the ball and had knocked in 31 League goals in his first five League of Ireland seasons, leading the Home Farm marksman lists in both 1974-75 (10) and 1975-76 (13).
His greatest honour had come in the FAI Cup in 1975, when after putting paid to Jim McLaughlin’s aspirations in the first round, Home Farm swept aside Cork Celtic and St Patrick’s Athletic, and in one of the biggest final-day shocks in years, Frank’s 7th minute goal against Shelbourne secured the FAI Cup winner’s medals.
Under Dave Bacuzzi’s management, Dermot Keely and Martin Murray also collected winner’s mementos with the first amateur victors of the FAI Cup in 40 years.
While Dundalk won the FAI Cup during Frank’s single year at Oriel Park, he did not participate in the campaign, losing his place in January to Synan Braddish and doing bench duty for the rest of the season. In spite of his limited activity, he was leading scorer, thanks mainly to four goals in the League Cup section games.
Although he started the following season with newly-elected Galway Rovers, within a few weeks he moved to Athlone Town where he settled into his longest club stint, spending five seasons at St Mel’s Park.
Acting as support to leading marksman Eugene Davis, Frank helped himself to a total of 35 League goals during his stay, during which Athlone under the management of Turlough O’Connor developed into one of the strongest teams in the League of Ireland, highlighted by victory in the League of Ireland Championship in 1980-81. Frank was voted Athlone Player of the Year in the Championship winning season.
He was a member of the Jim McLaughlin-managed League of Ireland panel that travelled to New Zealand in May 1982 for a 5-match tour against the NZ National team. At the beginning of the following season his name was linked with a number of clubs, including Dundalk, but after a visit to the Transfer Tribunal, he signed up with Drogheda, who finished runner-up to Athlone Town for the League title.
At the beginning of the 1983-84 year it was back to the Tribunal, where Drogheda’s £4,000 valuation was reduced to £1,200, and he ended up as one of a half dozen professionals signed by UCD. Under the management of Dermot Keely, he scored in his opening fixture for the students, a 4-0 win over Home Farm in the Leinster Cup but failed—in his only season in a 15-season League career—to register a single League goal.
He did, however, land another FAI Cup Winner’s medal when against all the odds, and with Alan O’Neill, Paddy Dunning, Robbie Lawlor and Joe Hanrahan on board, UCD defeated the Jim McLaughlin-managed League Champs Shamrock Rovers. After one year at Belfield Frank returned to Home Farm.
He spent his last League season at the Brandywell, scoring in Derry’s first ever League victory, when defeating Monaghan 2-0 in their seventh League match, but finished his League career under suspension arising from a registration irregularity when he moved to Derry from Leinster League side Parkvilla.
At this stage, his 15-year League of Ireland career had brought him to ten clubs—Drumcondra, Home Farm-Drumcondra, Home Farm, Bohemians, Dundalk, Galway United, Athlone Town, Drogheda, UCD and Derry City—where he was credited with a career haul of 82 League goals and 12 in the FAI Cup.
1 Runner Up: Presidents Cup 1976-77.
|League of Ireland career...League Games|
|European Competition Player Stats|
|Home Farm||1975-76||CWC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1976-77||EUC||2 (0) 0|
|Athlone Town||1981-82||EUC||2 (0) 0|
|Total||6 (0) 0|
|EUC=European Cup; CWC=Cup Winners Cup|