Iconic piece of Ireland's 90s football history up for grabs in auction for Cork charity

Iconic piece of Ireland's 90s football history up for grabs in auction for Cork charity
Alan McLoughlin celebrates after securing a point for Ireland in 1993 to take them to the World Cup in 1994. The matchball is up for grabs in an auction for St Luke's Home in Cork. File picture: INPHO / Billy Stickland

An iconic piece of '90s football history will be used to fundraise for a Cork charity - for the second time in 17 years.

The match ball used in Ireland's crunch tie with Northern Ireland in 1993 which saw the Republic qualify for the '94 World Cup in the United States has been donated by Mary, from Cobh, to raise money for St Luke's Care Home in Mahon.

Legendary coach Jack Charlton and the team signed the ball.

Going into the game, Charlton's men needed just a draw to qualify for the World Cup, but Northern Ireland didn't give up without a fight. A thundering strike from Alan McLoughlin saw the Republic snatch a draw after falling behind, sending them to the World Cup.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Mary, who asked for her full name not to be used, bought the ball back in 1993 for £347 in a charity auction for the same nursing home. But this time around, Mary hopes that the unique ball could raise up to €20,000.

The ball had such power that grown men would call to her house, ask to touch it and cry with emotion when they did.

Mary said:

Back then, I didn’t know one end of a soccer pitch from the other, but at that time - after Italia 90 - we were all so anxious for Ireland to win.

“Everyone had lights on all the trees and flags outside their houses. It was the only topic people spoke about across the whole country - the match and Jack Charlton.

“It was a terrific time. We didn’t have mobile phones or all the TV channels they do now and everyone was so excited about the soccer. It really brought the country together.” 

The target for the fundraiser is just €1,000 but Mary believes that it could fetch much more.

“I think it should raise €15,000 to €20,000. It’s a unique piece of soccer history.

“They [St Lukes] need the money badly. Their fundraising events had to be cancelled with the coronavirus. It’s a lovely place and it should be supported,” she said.

Former Ireland captain and assistant manager Robbie Keane has posted a video on social media urging people to buy tickets and support the cause.

“St Lukes nursing home are auctioning off a signed football from that famous night in Windsor Park when Alan McLoughlin scored the goal to get us to the World Cup in ’94," he said. 

"Great memories. Get behind them. Buy as many tickets as you can. It’s a great cause.” 

Along with the ball, a match brochure from the game is also up for raffle.

And Alan McLoughlin, the scorer of the winning goal, sent an autographed photograph of himself from that night to be added to the raffle prize.

The raffle for the three items will be held on September 14, tickets cost €10 each and can be here.

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