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Dublin 2011: City's Irish connections part 1

Peter Doherty

Peter Doherty

City have always enjoyed a strong affiliation with both sides of the Irish border that stretches back almost a century.

Dublin-born half-back Billy Walsh's family moved to Gorton when he was seven and he played for England Schoolboys before joining City in 1936 and signing professional terms in 1938.

During the War, he made 227 amateur appearances while working as a miner. Eventually, Walsh made 118 professional appearances for City from 1946 until 1950. But the War meant his international career for Ireland was limited to 15 caps.

Peter Doherty is seen as one of the finest Irish players of all-time. The inside-forward had everything in his locker from tackling to scoring goals by the hatful. Born at Magherafelt in 1913, he eventually crossed the Irish Sea in 1933 when Blackpool signed him.

Two years later he joined City in a club record £10,000 deal. He went on to score 81 goals in 133 appearances for the club, in which time he won the league championship in 1937, before the war ended effectively his career

...Peter Doherty - MCFC legend


Winger Fionan ‘Paddy’ Fagan was another City Dubliner. He arrived in Manchester in 1953 after two years at Hull and stayed for seven seasons, playing 164 games on either flank and earning eight caps for the Republic.

Fagan left City in 1960 to join Derby before playing non-league football in the north-west. He has left a lasting legacy as a founding member of the Former Players’ Association in the mid-1990s.

Midfielder Johnny Crossan, who played 24 times for Northern Ireland skippered City to the Division Two title in 1965/66 and was a huge crowd favourite at Maine Road during his spell with the Blues.

Martin O’Neill was a two-time European Cup winner by the time he signed for City in the early 1980s. The man from Kilrea only played 13 times for the Blues, and left after only a year to join Norwich.

Additionally, he had a prolonged international career, winning 64 caps for Northern Ireland. O’Neill is known by the majority of younger fans for his managerial work having had successful spells at Leicester, Celtic and most recently Aston Villa.

Barnsley-born centre-back Mick McCarthy joined City from his hometown club and helped gain promotion to the First Division in 1985. He played 163 games before a move to Celtic.

McCarthy’s 57 caps would not be his final association with the Republic of Ireland - he went on to manage the national side for six years from 1996, reaching the World Cup finals in 2002.

City fans would be forgiven for not knowing that Neil Lennon began his career with the Blues, as the midfielder only played once for the club before being signed by Dario Gradi at Crewe in 1990.

The transfer saw a progression in his career as he gained a reputation for being a tough-tackling midfielder, which earned him a move back up the leagues to Leicester where he continued to thrive.

The Lurgan-born man then joined his boyhood club Celtic where he won the Scottish League on five occasions, and he is now manager of the Parkhead side.

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