The late Joe O’Mahony, Limerick’s title-winning captain in 1980, has been honoured by the League of Ireland club with the retirement of the number four jersey in tribute. O’Mahony made over 400 appearances for the Blues between 1966 and 1986, leading them to the championship under Eoin Hand, and captaining the side in the European Cup against Real Madrid.
O’Mahony also won two FAI Cups with the Treaty City side, in 1971, and as skipper in 1982, and a League Cup. His final game for Limerick came in October 1986 against St Patrick’s Athletic in Hogan Park, aged 38.
Capped at youth international level, O’Mahony earned a senior call-up for a World Cup qualifier in Czechoslovakia but was an unused sub. To the cries of “Have a go, Joe”, the defender became a legendary figure in Limerick soccer over two decades, not least for leading the club to a first League of Ireland title in 20 years. A 1-1 draw with Athlone in the final match of the 1979-80 season saw Limerick pip Dundalk to the championship by a solitary point.
The European Cup draw pitted Limerick against Spanish giants Real Madrid, then six time winners of the competition. The home leg took place in Lansdowne Road on 17 September 1980 to accommodate the expected larger attendance. A Johnny Matthew’s goal was disallowed for offside before Des Kennedy gave Limerick a deserved lead. With 20 minutes remaining Madrid were awarded a disputed penalty and Juanito drew them level before Pineda netted in the 84th minute to win the game 2-1.
“Two weeks later, O’Mahony led Limerick out at the Santiago Bernabeu in front of 60,000 fans.”
Des Kennedy was on the scoresheet again but the home side ran out comfortable 5-1 winners. Madrid went on to reach the final where they were defeated 1-0 by Liverpool.
“Limerick FC deeply regrets the passing of Joe O’Mahony, one of the greatest soccer players ever produced by Limerick,” said club chairman Pat O’Sullivan. “In appreciation of the contribution made by Joe O’Mahony to Limerick soccer, we feel it is appropriate and fitting to retire the No4 jersey which was worn with so much distinction by Joe.”
Title winning manager, and former Ireland boss, Eoin Hand described O’Mahony as “the best captain I could have had.”
Joe O’Mahony recently passed away at the age of 65 after a short illness. RIP