|Date Of Death:||Aug 2003|
|Place Of Death:||Belfast|
|Debut:||4-Feb-73, League, (a) Sligo Rovers, 1-1|
An old-fashioned winger… wizard with the ball… loved to take on defenders… mesmeriser…great creativity…improviser…played a type of game now consigned to the history books….
Tony was one of an ex-Glentoran trio, with Joe McAleavey and Gerry Brammeld, brought to Oriel Park in the spring of 1973 in time for the FAI Cup, in a failed attempt to salvage something from a dreadful season. Tony scored in the first round drawn tie against Shamrock Rovers but it wasn’t enough and Rovers advanced after two drawn games.
From the Ardoyne in Belfast, he was an orthodox left winger, who exhibited a deceptively languid personality, but with the ball he had all the wizardry and magic of the great ball-playing wingers, being often compared to another Belfast genius Georgie Best. Belying a laid back manner, he was deceptively strong on the ball, retaining possession under the most physical of challenges and his mazy runs made him one of the most entertaining left wingers ever to play with the club.
He was underused during John Smith’s reign but all changed when Jim McLaughlin took charge and his team contribution and value was considerably enhanced when he became accustomed to the new manager’s requirements under a 4-2-4 formation. Under Jim he found more space and opportunities to display his array of talents and to demonstrate why he was rated the most skilfull player to appear in Oriel Park in a long time.
In Jim’s first season Tony was selected as the Supporters’ Player of the year. With Jimmy Dainty on the other wing, the two flanks became the main routes for McLaughlin’s initial assault on the League of Ireland, which delivered the League Championship in 1975-76 and the FAI Cup in the following year. Tony’s role was central to those successes.
Shortly into the 1977-78 season, after a spat at Dublin Airport en route to play Hadjuk Split in the European Cup, Tony left for Sligo Rovers and before the season was over was back at Oriel Park, playing a starring role with the Westerners in their FAI Cup campaign and the semi-final clash against Drogheda.
After receiving a great Oriel reception he showed all his penetrating skills, causing havoc amongst the defenders as Sligo qualified by 1-0 for the final. But a disputed penalty, converted by Ray Treacy, saw Shamrock Rovers through in the final. For two more seasons he stayed at the Sligo Showgrounds.
He spent the summer of 1975 playing with Philadelphia Atoms in the North American Soccer League, playing alongside former Dundalk colleague Bobby Smith.
What They Said About Him
From the Argus Appreciation on his death in August 2003: “One of the best ball-players in the League of Ireland … a big favourite with our supporters …. an old-fashioned winger… wizard with the ball… loved to take on defenders… mesmeriser…great creativity…improviser…played a type of game now consigned to the history books….”
2 Wins: League 1975-76; FAI Cup 1976-77.
1 Runner Up: Presidents Cup 1976-77.
Player of the Year 1974-75
|League of Ireland career|
|LOI 9 Seasons||128(17)||18|