07/02/1891 Belfast Wales 7-2 William Dalton, George Gaffikin, Olphert Stanfield (4), Sam Torrans
John Clugston, Manliffe Goodbody, Robert Morrison, Alex Crawford, Jack Reynolds, Richard Moore, William Dalton, George Gaffikin, Olphert Stanfield, Sam Torrans, John Peden
The (Belfast) News Letter reported ‘we never remember so much interest being taken in an international match in Belfast.’
The Welsh side visited the Gallaher’s tobacco factory, the offices of the Belfast Evening Telegraph and then onto a travelling circus on the day prior to the big game.
The match report from The Glasgow Herald suggested that the attendance for this match was over ten thousand however, other sources suggest only six thousand while another source suggested a crowd of twelve thousand! Prior to the match Ireland were on a nine match loosing streak, with most of those loses generally being heavy defeats. The last match in which Ireland had avoided defeat was four years early against Wales when they defeated their opponents 4-1 at the Cliftonville Cricket Ground in Belfast, their first ever victory.
This match took place at Ulsterville (Ulsterville Avenue, Belfast) which was the home of Linfield who had not yet moved to Windsor Park which was not built until 1905. The weather and pitch were described as being “satisfactory”.
Wales won the toss so Ireland kicked off. The initial play was concentrated in the midfield area, until Wales moved the leather into Irish territory. The Irish defence lost possession, Robert Roberts (Rhosllanerchrugog) scored the first goal of the game on 10 minutes.
Nine minutes later Ireland equalised from William Dalton’s (Linfield) shot after a good pass from club teammate Sam Torrans (Linfield).
Ireland increased their pressure on the Welsh line on numerous occasions and on 22 minutes Richard Moore (Linfield) hit a long central shot, which Olphert Stanfield (Distillery) met and subsequently scored Ireland’s second.
From the restart Ireland continued their pressure by retrieving the ball and aiming multiple shots on goal in quick succession. Wales’ goalkeeper Richard Turner (Wrexham) kept his side in the match with numerous saves until Ireland managed a breakthrough on 34 minutes with a second goal from Stanfield, after good work and pass from George Gaffikin (Linfield) and Torrans.
Wales didn’t give up and kept possession from their restart. Ireland not expecting the regard action dropped their guard allowing the Welsh to score through Davies on 37 minutes.
Only 5 minutes later Ireland restored their two goal advantage. Torrans made his way into the Welsh penalty area and found Stanfield who easily rounded Turner in the Welsh goal to score Ireland’s fourth and his hat-trick. Stanfield’s hat-trick was the first ever scored by an Irish player in international football.
The score at half-time was Ireland 4 – 2 Wales.
The teams changed ends for the start of the second-half, and 10 minutes later the Irish restarted their pressure on the Welsh backline. Gaffikin could have scored but was judged to have been offside, however he did score minutes later in the 60th minute after a pass from the inside-left.
The game was effectively over and with Ireland scoring two further goals in quick succession (in the 63 minute from Torrans and a minute later from Stanfield) you could argue that Wales felt the same way and dropped their heads.
The game did not provide any further goals or incidents of note and it finished Ireland 7 – 2 Wales. This was only Ireland’s second-ever victory, almost four years after their first.
* Trivia –
The Irish team that day included Ulster half-back Jack Reynolds, whose play attracted the attention of West Brom. After moving to the Hawthorns later that year, Reynolds revealed that he had been born in England. He subsequently switched to the English national team and remains the only person to play for both nations.