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Irish Soccer Goal Facts and Statistics
First Irish Goal Scorer
As detailed elsewhere on this site the first person to score a goal for Ireland at the senior international soccer level was Paddy Duncan. At the 1924 Paris Olympics Duncan scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Bulgaria on Wednesday 28th May 1924. From the St James Gate Football Club in Dublin, Duncan played for the Irish Free State on four occasions and scored a total of two goals.
Record Goal Scorer for Ireland
The current record goal scorer for the Republic of Ireland is Robbie Keane who has scored 68 international goals. It is a record that may never be beaten. Keane scored the last international goal of his career in his 146th, and final match, for his country. In the last of the 2002 World Cup qualification matches the previous record had been set at 21 goals by Niall Quinn when he stooped to head the second goal against Cyprus on 6th October 2001 at Lansdowne Road. Robbie Keane equalled Quinn's total on the September 4th 2004 also against Cyprus. Keane became the outright Irish record goal scorer just over a month later when he scored two goals against the Faroe Islands during the 2006 World Cup Qualifying Campaign. Robbie Keane scored his first international hat trick for Ireland against San Marino at Lansdowne Road (now the Aviva Stadium) in a 5-0 win during Ireland's Euro 2008 Qualifying Group. Keane became the first Irish player to score three international hat tricks when he scored three goals during the Euro 2016 qualifiers in a 7-0 win over Gibraltar in the Aviva Stadium in 2014.
Best Irish Goal per Match Ratio
While Robbie Keane is the record Irish international goal scorer, and has an impressive goal scoring ratio, he will never emulate the ratio achieved by former Irish international Jimmy Dunne. From Dublin, Dunne had a playing career that almost lasted twenty years, from 1923 to 1942. His international career began and finished during the 1930's making his debut in May 1930 and his final appearance for Ireland was in May 1939. In 15 appearances Dunne scored 13 goals - that is an international goals per match ratio of 86.66% - impressive by any standards. He spent eight seasons with Sheffield United and scored 143 goals in 173 matches - a scoring ratio of 82.66%. Admittedly it is difficult to make comparisons amongst players across the football eras but by any standards Jimmy Dunne must rank as one of the greatest Irish soccer players ever.
Most Goals Scored by an Irish Footballer in an International Match
The most goals scored by an Irish international player in one match is four. The first player to achieve this feat was Paddy Moore in a qualifier match for the 1934 World Cup Finals against Belgium on 25th February 1934. It was the first ever World Cup qualifier played by the then Irish Free State team. 35,000 fans crammed into Dalymount Park to witness Moore, of Aberdeen in the Scottish league, single handedly keep the Irish in the match. It was a remarkable achievement as Moore's career and life were already being blighted by his alcoholism which eventually led to his premature death at the age of 41.
Former Irish record goal scorer Don Givens also shares the distinction of having scored the most goals by an Irish international in a single match. In the 1976 European Football Championship qualifiers Turkey arrived in Dublin for the last Irish match of the campaign. Ireland needed a big win to retain an interest in the group and to keep the pressure on the Soviet Union. Within 39 minutes of the first half Ireland had raced to a 3-0 lead and Don Givens had scored all three goals. It took another 50 minutes for Ireland and Givens to rack up another goal but by the end of the match the score was Don Givens 4 : Turkey 0. This was all the more remarkable as Givens had scored a hat trick earlier in the campaign against the Soviet Union and notched a single goal in a 1-1 away draw with Turkey. This single football qualifying campaign contributed eight goals to Givens overall 19 goal international record. This was an Irish goal scoring record and lasted until Frank Stapleton surpassed it on 2nd June 1990.
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