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Education in County Kildare

Second Level - Soccer

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History of Soccer in Ireland

It was John M. McAlery, a Belfast merchant, who introduced association football or soccer to Ireland in 1878.

The Football Association was established in London in 1866, but because of the travel and communication problems of the day, its influence took a long time to spread. Cad had been the traditional field sport in Ireland. But in 1874, a powerful new organisation was born with the formation of the Irish Rugby Football Union. Because of the influence of students commuting between Ireland and England, Trinity College filled a major role in catering for rugby as the sport of the middle and upper classes in Ireland, but would, in turn, also have a major impact on the game of association football.

His first move was to invite two teams; Queen's Park and Caledonians to play an exhibition game at the Ulster cricket ground in Ballymafeigh. The response among the local public was favourable and thus encouraged, McAlery proceeded to found the Cliftonville club in Belfast in 1879.

A year later, on November 18th, 1880, the Irish Football Association was born in the Queen's Hotel in Belfast. The seven founding clubs were Knock, Oldpark, Distillery, Moyola Park, Cliftonville, Avoniel and Alexander (Limavady). Moyla Park won the first Irish Senior Cup.

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