|Debut:||8-Sep-77, Leinster Cup, (h) Belgrove, 2-0|
There was a 20-year gap between Paddy Dunning’s debut League of Ireland season in 1969-70 with Shelbourne and his swan-song season of 1988-89. And he went out in style, providing the experienced backbone of the Drogheda team that landed the Division One Championship and closed his career with another Soccer Writers Player of the Month award (February 1989), ten years after his March 1979 award during Dundalk’s march to the 1978-79 Cup League Double.
During those twenty years Paddy played in over 600 games of which 421 were League games.
The Shelbourne of the1970s was a far cry from the version that emerged under Ollie Byrne in the 1990s. During Paddy’s 8-year stay at Tolka Park they never finished in the League higher than sixth, and in successive seasons finished last and second last.
A losing FAI Cup in 1975 to Home Farm was Paddy’s closest brush with competitive honours.
He had however been recognised at international level, playing twice for Ireland in the 1970 European Championship matches against Sweden and Italy and while at Shels had picked up half a dozen caps with the League of Ireland team. Before joining Shels he had spent a while with Everton as a teenager.
In the summer of 1977 Jim McLaughlin with a league title and an FAI Cup under his belt was studying his options while planning another assault on the League of Ireland.
For Paddy Dunning his arrival at Oriel Park in September 1977 meant an end to a pauper’s diet where trophies were concerned and by the time he left the club in 1982-83 he had collected ten winners’ medals and five of the runner up variety. Along the way he doubled his collection of League of Ireland caps, while adding Italy, Switzerland and Argentina destinations to his passport.
With Tommy McConville along side him in central defence, later supplemented by Dermot Keely, his six seasons at Oriel meant that opposing forwards did not look forward to a trip to Dundalk.
He had a largely injury-free career, rarely missing a fixture and in one stretch, from the beginning of 1978-79 to Feb 1983—a spell that comprised 139 League games—he played in 136, missing just 3 games.
He also took time out to sample the American scene, lining out with Los Angeles Skyhawks in the American Soccer League.
Well into his thirties when he left Dundalk at the end of the 1982-83 year, there was still time for another FAI Cup winners’ when UCD upset red-hot favourites Shamrock Rovers in 1964, winning after a replay. He quit playing shortly into the 1984-85 season after marking up another milestone when appearing in UCD’s European Cup Winners’ Cup against Everton, going down on an aggregate 1-0. This completed Paddy’s venture in European games, finishing his career with 18 games—two each with Shelbourne and UCD and 14 while with Dundalk.
After spending a while as assistant to Dermot Keely at Shamrock Rovers, Paddy was convinced by Synan Braddish to put the boots on for one last hurrah with Drogheda and his Division One 1998-89 Championship medal gave him a full hand of competition mementos—Premier and Division One, FAI Cup, League Cup, Leinster Cup and Presidents’ Cup.
What They Said About Him
When Paddy’s Soccer Writers Award for Player of the Month was announced, the Irish Press noted: “Paddy, whose late goal clinched a 1979 FAI Cup final spot, had an outstanding March, in which Dundalk established themselves as red hot favourites for the League Cup Double.”
10 Wins: 2 Leagues 1978-79, 1981-82; 2 FAI Cups 1978-79, 1980-81; 2 League Cups 1977-78, 1980-81; Leinster Cup 1977-78; 3 Presidents Cups 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82.
5 Runners Up; 2 League 1979-80, 1980-81; League Cup 1982-83; Leinster Cup 1981-82; Presidents Cup 1982-83.
|League of Ireland Career...All Games|
|European Competition Player Stats|
|Shelbourne||1971-72||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1979-80||EUC||6 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1980-81||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1981-82||CWC||4 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1982-83||EUC||2 (0) 0|
|UCD||1984-85||CWC||2 (0) 0|
|Total||18 (0) 0|
|UFC=UEFA Cup; EUC=European Cup; CWC=Cup Winners Cup;|