FAI recognises 1924 Olympic Games matches as first-ever men’s international fixtures

The Football Association of Ireland will now formally recognise the 1924 Ireland fixtures, including the 1924 Olympic Games matches in Paris, as the first-ever official senior international men’s matches following re-classification and approval from the FAI Board.

The 1924 Olympics Games’ football tournament saw the FAI field a men’s national side for the first-time and these matches were initially considered senior international fixtures until FIFA re-classified them as amateur matches in the 1960s. 

In 1999, FIFA communicated to all respective associations who competed in the 1924 Olympic Games that they can self-determine the reclassification of the matches.

Following extensive historical research undertaken by a committee including Gary Spain, Tadhg Carey, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Paul Lennon and Gerry Farrell, a proposal was put forward to the FAI board to re-classify these matches, which covers the two games played in the Olympic Tournament vs Bulgaria and the Netherlands, and the subsequent friendlies against Estonia and the USA.

The proposal was approved last month and as a result, these matches will be formally recognised by the association at an event on Monday, May 27 and at the Ireland v Hungary match at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, June 4 with the relatives of the 1924 players, who’ve been tracked down by the committee, to be invited to celebrate their forefathers achievements. 

Whilst the vast majority of the relatives have been identified and contacted, the committee have been unable to make contact with the relatives of two of the players and the trainer. Therefore, the FAI is now appealing to the public and the media to help track down the relatives of players so they can be invited to the Ireland v Hungary match with details on how to contact the association below.

The players are:
– Mick Farrell of St. James’ Gate
– Frank Collins of Jacobs
– Trainer Charlie Harris from Bohemian FC

The re-classification of these four matches in 1924 means the Ireland v Bulgaria match at Stade Olympique, Colombes, where Paddy Duncan scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win, is now formally recognised as Ireland’s first-ever international match and all historical records should now reflect the inclusion of the fixtures in 1924.

“This is a huge day in the history of the Football Association of Ireland and a proud moment as we formally re-classify and recognise the achievements of the 1924 side,” said FAI President Paul Cooke.

“Firstly, I want to thank and congratulate the committee of Gary, Paul, Tadhg, Aodhán and Gerry for all of the incredible research and work which went into the proposal. Their tireless efforts has led to the recognition and reclassification of these matches which means the living relatives of the players will be able to join us to formally celebrate their achievements.

“To be able to pass this motion 100 years after the matches and in the same year as the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris gives the Association a great opportunity to recognise the importance these matches have in our shared history and a valued addition to the Irish footballing tradition.”

“This year’s Olympic Games in Paris marks our centenary, 100 years since Team Ireland was first represented on the international stage, also in Paris, in 1924,” said Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO Peter Sherrard.

“Of the 48 athletes, artists, and poets who participated in 1924 for Team Ireland, it was our Olympian footballers who did so first, competing against Bulgaria on 28 May, 1924, and winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Paddy Duncan of St James’ Gate. This opening Game happened many weeks prior to the official opening of the Games on 5 July 1924 and had come following months of fundraising initiatives by the FAIFS to send the players to the Games, including proceeds from a match against Celtic and contributions from Bohemians, St James Gate, Athlone Town, Shelbourne, and Shamrock Rovers. The players who participated are forever recognised as Irish Olympians and deserve fully to be recognised as having participated in the FAI’s first international football match as well.

“I congratulate the Football Association of Ireland for approving this initiative in this special centenary year and in particular, Gary Spain, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Paul Lennon, Gerry Farrell and Tadhg Carey for their work in preparing the proposal.”

“I am delighted to see these pioneers of Irish football honoured on the centenary of these games,” said committee member and football historian Gary Spain.

“These men played at a time when football did not have the rewards or the recognition it has today. The efforts they made laid the foundation for those that came after them. It is great that their story is being told to a new generation of Irish football.

“The players from the Paris Olympics of 1924 were true trailblazers of Irish sport,” said committee member Tadhg Carey. “They were both Ireland’s first full international football side and the first Olympians to compete in a sporting arena representing Team Ireland. It is fitting that they are being recognised and these games reclassified as senior internationals. It restores these footballers to their rightful place in the history books.”

If you’re a living relative of any of the three outlined above, please feel free to contact media@fai.ie or any of the committee members on social media.

To publicise the recognition of the 1924 Olympics Team, members of the media are invited to a press event at the Castleknock Hotel at 1pm on Monday, May 27. Relatives of the players will attend the event with speeches on the achievements of the team from committee members Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Paul Lennon, Gary Spain and Gerry Farrell and an address from FAI President Paul Cooke. 

All committee members will be available for interview as well as relatives of the players in attendance. If you’d like to attend the event, please contact kieran.crowley@fai.ie before Friday, May 24 at 5pm.

Wednesday, May 28 | Stade Olympique de Colombes – Olympic Games Second Round
IRELAND 1 (Duncan 75)
Ireland: Paddy O’Reilly; Bertie Kerr, Jack McCarthy; Ernie MacKay, John Joe Dykes, Tommy Muldoon; Mickey Farrell, Dinny Hannon, Paddy Duncan, Joe Kendrick, Johnny Murray. Coach: Charlie Harris. Att: 1,659.
Referee: A Henriot (France).
Monday, June 2 | Stade de Paris – Olympic Games Quarter-final
IRELAND 1 (Ghent 33)
NETHERLANDS 2 (Formenoy 7, 104) (AET)
Ireland: Paddy O’Reilly; Bertie Kerr, Jack McCarthy; Ernie MacKay, John Joe Dykes, Tommy Muldoon; Mickey Farrell, Dinny Hannon, Paddy Duncan, Frank Ghent, Johnny Murray. Coach: Charlie Harris. Att: 1,506
Referee: H Retschury (Austria)
Tuesday, June 3 | Stade Olympique de Colombes – International Friendly 
IRELAND 3 (Duncan 15, Robinson 48, Ghent 69)
ESTONIA 1 (Upraus 37)
Ireland: Paddy O’Reilly; Tommy Murphy, Jack McCarthy; John Thomas, John Joe Dykes, Tommy Muldoon; Christy Robinson, Frank Ghent, Paddy Duncan, Charlie Dowdall, Johnny Murray. Coach: Charlie Harris. Att: 3,000
Referee: Y Mohamed (Egypt)
Saturday, June 14 | Dalymount Park – Friendly
IRELAND 3 (Brooks 3)
USA 1 (Rhody)
Ireland: Frank Collins; Bertie Kerr, Tommy Murphy; John Thomas, Paddy Duncan, Tommy Muldoon; Mickey Farrell, Tony Hunston, Ned Brooks, Charlie Dowdall, Johnny Murray. Coach: Charlie Harris. Att: 5,000
Referee: J Kelly (Ireland).
John Joe Dykes; Frank Ghent; Dinny Hannon; Tommy Muldoon; Paddy O’Reilly.
Ned Brooks; Bertie Kerr; Jack McCarthy; Johnny Murray; Christy Robinson; John Thomas.
Joe Kendrick; Tony Hunston.
Frank Collins.
Charlie Dowdall; Paddy Duncan; Mick Farrell; Ernie MacKay; Tommy Murphy.
Charlie Harris (Bohemian FC).