Tony O'Doherty

Tony O
Tony O'Doherty
League 19(5)
FAI Cup 3(2)
Europe 2
League Cup 2
Others 2
Totals 28(7)
Date Of Birth: Apr-23-1947
Place Of Birth: Derry
Total Appearances: 35
Nationality: NI
Debut: 25-Jul-80, Tyler Cup, Crusaders, (h) 0-1


It must have come as a bit of a surprise to 33-year old Tony O’Doherty when he was contacted by fellow Derryman Jim McLaughlin in the summer of 1980 with an invitation to join Dundalk, 16 years after he had made his senior debut with Irish League Coleraine. With both of them coming from the Brandywell neighbourhood, it was not too difficult for Jim to succeed and Tony did not regret the move.

Within weeks McLaughlin was saying to any one who would listen that he was “the most professional player in the League”, echoing the view of Fran Fields, Finn Harps chairman who eight years previously had called him “the best player in the League of Ireland”. In his single Oriel Park season he went home with two winners’ awards, Presidents Cup and FAI Cup, and a League runner up memento.

Debuting with Coleraine under Bertie Peacock in the 1964-65 season, his major club successes were in the Blaxnit All-Ireland, with victories in successive seasons, over Shamrock Rovers (1968-69) and Sligo Rovers (1969-70). He also collected winner’s mementos in the Ulster Cup, City Cup and Top Four Cup.

His representative honours started in 1967 with three amateur caps against England, Scotland and Wales. His selection on the Irish League team for the November 1968 clash with the Football League, was his first of four Inter-League caps.

Capable of playing as either a creative wing-half or as a centre-back, his next International honour came in March 1969 at the under-23 level, when he was appointed captain for the day against Italy.

Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham was impressed and included him in his panel for that year’s Home International Series. Before a 100,000 crowd at Wembley, celebrating Bobby Charlton's 100th cap, he made his full international debut in a 3-1 loss to England. Four days later at Swansea he made a substitute appearance in a 1-0 defeat to Wales.

He was regularly linked with moves across channel, but Coleraine had put a £20,000 valuation on his head. However when he finally did move in 1972 to Finn Harps, it was for a fee of £4,000. Harps chairman Fran Fields went around with a begging bowl and convinced 40 subscribers to chip in £100 each to cover the cost. Over seven seasons, and almost 200 games, he fully repaid the fee.

As the defensive general he masterminded Harps to three League runners up spots, two League Cup final day losses, four qualifications for European competition and in 1974 to success in the FAI Cup, when they got the better of St Patrick’s Athletic in the final.

After the 1973 UEFA Cup tie Harps were willing to accept Aberdeen’s offer of £25,000 but the personal terms were not sufficiently attractive to warrant Tony uprooting his young family and moving to strange surroundings.

He finally left Ballybofey at the end of the 1978-79 season after seven seasons and 194 appearances [League 153; FAI Cup 11; Europe 7; Others 23]. For the following twelve months, before getting the call from Jim McLaughlin, he managed Derry City in the Intermediate League. Before that season ended he was getting his fill of management and began to get itchy feet to put the playing boots on again. The urgings of his Brandywell neighbour caught him in the right mood.

During his single Oriel Park season Tony added further to his European appearances when lining out against Porto in both legs of the UEFA Cup tie. He also added another Championship runner-up memento when Dundalk’s efforts were in vain against Athlone’s magnificent 27-match unbeaten run.

There was FAI Cup compensation but Dundalk’s 2-0 victory over Sligo Rovers in the Cup Final was a bitter-sweet occasion for the O’Doherty brothers. Tony came on a sub in the 66th minute, replacing Martin Lawlor, while his younger brother Donal, at left-full with Sligo Rovers, was replaced late in the game.

In the following season he played for Ballymena, turning out in both legs of their European Cup Winner’s Cup tie against AS Roma, and bringing his European competition games with four clubs to 18—Coleraine 7, Finn Harps 7, Dundalk 2 and Ballymena 2.

In 1984 he joined a group of ex-Derry City players—Terry Harkin, Eamon McLaughlin and Eddie Mahon—who formed a club with the objective of applying for admission to the League of Ireland. To help their cause Jim McLaughlin brought Shamrock Rovers to the Brandywell for a match with a Derry Selected XI and the absence of incident, before a 4,000 attendance, strengthened their case.

This campaign was the catalyst that would lead finally to Derry City’s League of Ireland acceptance for the 1985-86 season and Tony, almost 40 year old, was there at the birth of a new era, helping to bring the Shield to the Brandywell in that first historic season.

He spent just over a year (October 1993 to December 1994) back as manager at the Brandywell, sandwiched between the reigns of Roy Coyle and Felix Healy.

During his playing years he worked as a buyer with the Derry-based American-owned Du Pont textile plant. Nowadays he operates as a football pundit, has a sports column in the Derry Journal and is active in community relations in the Derry area.


Win: FAI Cup 1980-81. .

Runner Up: League 1980-81.

Career Stats

European Competition Player Stats
Coleraine 1969-70 FRC3 (0) 0
Coleraine 1970-71 FRC4 (0) 0
Finn Harps 1973-74 UFC1 (0) 0
Finn Harps 1974-75 CWC2 (0) 0
Finn Harps 1976-77 UFC2 (0) 0
Finn Harps 1978-79 UFC2 (0) 0
Dundalk 1980-81 UFC2 (0) 0
Ballymena Utd 1981-82 CWC2 (0) 0
Total 18 (0) 0
FRC=Fairs Cup; UFC=UEFA Cup; CWC=Cup Winners Cup