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How an Irish Cup semi-final at Windsor Park led to the formation of the FAI

 

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Split decision: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland line up ahead of their November 2018 friendly clash

Split decision: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland line up ahead of their November 2018 friendly clash

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Split decision: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland line up ahead of their November 2018 friendly clash

One hundred years ago to the day, one of the most consequential goalless draws in the history of football was played out at Windsor Park.

The match was an Irish Cup semi-final between Glenavon and Dublin-based Shelbourne. The tie set in train the sequence of events which led six months later to the inauguration of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the division of administrative responsibilities for the sport on the island of Ireland that persists to this day.

The political situation on the island at the time was, of course, far from conducive to the problem-free staging of any sports encounter. The Anglo-Irish War had broken out in 1919 and continued to sputter. Shelbourne's home city of Dublin was under curfew; Belfast was every bit as tense.


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