A colourised photo of the Irish team which played Bulgaria in the Olympics of 1924 - now officially Ireland's first international. Denis Hannon is centre front; Tommy Muldoon is back row, second from left, John Joe Dykes, back row, third from right, Paddy O'Reilly is the goalkeeper and Frank Ghent is in civilian clothes second from right in back row.

Five Athlone Town players now formally recognised as Ireland's first football internationals

Five Athlone Town players have now been officially recognised as among Ireland's first full football internationals.

It comes following a decision by the Football Association of Ireland to recognise Ireland matches in the 1924 Olympic Games as the country's first-ever men’s internationals.

The move is on foot of a campaign by a group of football historians, including Athlone man Tadhg Carey, who is also Westmeath Independent editor.

In a statement today, the FAI said it would now formally recognise the four 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.

Five Athlone Town players, Denis Hannon, Frank Ghent, Tommy Muldoon, John Joe Dykes and Paddy O'Reilly featured in the Irish games in the 1924 Olympics. The first three were from Athlone, Dykes was from Sligo and O'Reilly was a Dubliner.

Today's announcement by the FAI means that the first two captains of Ireland's international team were Athlone Town players as Denis Hannon was the captain for the games against Bulgaria and Netherlands in the Olympics whilst John Joe Dykes led the side for the friendly against Estonia.

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 from a committee including Gary Spain, Tadhg Carey, Aodhan O'Riordan TD, Paul Lennon and Gerry Farrell, a proposal was put forward to the FAI board to re-classify these matches, which covers the two matches played in the Olympic Tournament versus 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 have been tracked down by the committee, to be invited to celebrate their forefathers achievements.

Whilst the vast majority of the relatives have been tracked down, 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 it can invite them 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

- and the Trainer Charlie Harris from Bohemians

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 our first-ever international match and all historical records should now reflect the inclusion of the fixtures in 1924.

"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."

FAI President Paul Cooke said: "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.

"Firstly, I want to congratulate the committee of Gary, Paul, Tadhg, Aodhan 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 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 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."

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 Aodhan O’Riordan 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)