04/03/1899 Belfast Wales 1-0 Philip Meldon
James Lewis, John Pyper, Sam Torrans, Archie Goodall, Bob Milne, John Taggart, Thomas Morrison, Philip Meldon, John Hanna, Joseph McAllen, John Peden
A fortnight earlier Ireland had lost 13-2 against England at Sunderland’s Roker Park. For this home match against the Welsh however, the Irish selectors brought together a much stronger team. The only players who kept their place in the side heavily beaten by England were; James Lewis, John Pyper, Sam Torrans, Bob Milne and Joseph McAllen. Jack Ponsonby, Mick Cochrane, James Campbell, Toby Mercer, Jack Waring and Jack Wattie were dropped in favour of Archie Goodall (Derby County), John Taggart (Walsall), Thomas Morrison (Burnley), Philip Meldon (Dublin City), John Hanna (Royal Artillery Portsmouth) and John Peden (Distillery).
The reasoning behind this was because the Irish FA changed tack and began following the example already set by both the Welsh and Scottish FA’s in selecting players born in the associations’ territory but playing their trade with English clubs, rather than solely selecting locally based players.
Unfortunately for Wales some of their English based players had to decline the invitation to join the Welsh squad due to club commitments.
The two teams were therefore evenly matched but it was Ireland who managed to score the vital goal which sealed victory. Ironically it was Dublin based player Philip Meldon (Dublin Freebooters) who scored the winning goal for Ireland on his international debut in the 60th minute of the match.
The gradual increase in Ireland’s competitiveness against the other Home Nations was starting to show in their games against Wales. This victory was their third successive victory against their Celtic cousins. However, only a few weeks later another heavy defeat, this time to Scotland 9-1 showed the Irish FA that they still had a lot of work to do.
* Trivia – Goalscorer Philip Meldon was a member of one Ireland’s most famous cricket families whose deeds spanned two generations. A forcing right-handed batsman, whom some thought unreliable, he was a very good leg spinner of whom Pat Hone wrote, “He must have been the slowest bowler who ever bowled in reputable cricket.”