18/02/1882 Belfast England 0-13
James Hamilton, David Rattay, James Buckle, John Hastings, Jack Davison, Donald Martin, Sam Johnston, Alex Dill, John McAlery, Billy McWha, Jack Sinclair
Ireland’s First International Match
After a successful trail match involving a Belfast & District side who lost 9-1 to Ayrshire at Cliftonville on 30th January 1882, Ireland (in blue) played in their first ever ‘full’ international match against England at the Knock Ground, Bloomfield, Belfast on 18th February 1882. Unfortunately England defeated Ireland 13-0 which remains a record loss for Ireland and a record win for England. The Irish FA had been founded two years earlier, making them the world’s fourth oldest football association after England, Scotland, and Wales.
Ireland’s captain and the “father of Irish football” John McAlery sat dejected in the home dressing room after the match with tears flowing down his cheeks. A week later he led Ireland in their first away match, Wales handing out another footballing lesson with a 7-1 win in Wrexham. Although those were his only ‘caps’ McAlery remained actively involved in international football, regularly acting as umpire at Home Nations matches until 1887.
* Trivia – The Irish line-up that day included Samuel Johnston, who at the age of 15 years and 154 days became the youngest international debutant, a record still held today.
The Sportsman newspaper reported, “The Irishmen must not be discouraged with the result , and no doubt they will in time be able to better equalise matters, it is however, a pity that a more moderate team had not been sent from England for the first meeting.”
18/02/2004 Belfast Norway 1-4 David Healy
Maik Taylor, Chris Baird, Aaron Hughes, Peter Kennedy (Steve Jones), Danny Griffin (Mark Williams), George McCartney, Keith Gillespie (Paul McVeigh), Michael Hughes, Damien Johnson, David Healy, Andy Smith
“I would wait 500 minutes and I would wait 500 more, just to be the man who waits a thousand minutes to see Our Wee Country score.” Northern Ireland fans in Donetsk, Ukraine, September 2003
David Healy finally ended Northern Ireland’s infamous goal drought (two years & 5 days – 13.5 games – 1,298 minutes) in Lawrie Sanchez’s first game in charge of the national team, with a 4-1 defeat to Norway.
Northern Ireland’s European non scoring record was subsequently surpassed by San Marino. After taking nearly a year off from playing international football San Marino put a stop to their non goal scoring record with the totaliser reaching the lofty heights of 1,852 minutes [not including injury time] (20.5 matches) thanks to a 7th minute goal against Malta on the 14th August 2012. They went nearly FOUR years without scoring!
David Healy – “It was important we scored and we have got this monkey off our back. It did not matter who got the goal, it could have been anyone, and it is disappointing not to score more as we had two or three good chances.”
Lawrie Sanchez – “There were defensive mistakes but at least the fans have seen a goal. Now they need to see a win. David Healy scored and had other chances and in Andy Smith hopefully we have the big frontman we are looking for. The supporters were fantastic. The welcome I have received has been truly unbelievable and I am disappointed our next four matches are away from home.”