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16 October 2007

Harry O'Reilly

Name: Henry James Joseph O’Reilly
Born: 1880, Rathdown

Position: Inside-Left/Centre-Forward

Representative Honours: Ireland: 3 Full Caps (1901-1904).
Club Honours: (with Freebooters) Irish Cup Runner-Up 1900/01.

Club Career:
FA Cup
Dublin Freebooters

In the early 1900s the "gentlemen" Freebooters were among the dominant Dublin teams, supplying four internationals (for a total of ten caps). They were formed in 1898 and played until 1905/06. Their only competitive matches took place in the Irish Cup. In all they played 16 cup matches, winning 7, drawing 2 and losing 7 with a goal tally of 46-36. Harry O'Reilly was Freebooters' leading goalscorer with 11 of those goals.

Their history peaked with an appearance in the 1901 Irish Cup Final against Cliftonville. Apart from that appearance in the Final they reached the fifth round on three other occasions. Their most regular opponent was Linfield who they beat 2-1 in the semi-final in their Cup final year and also managed a 3-3 draw and two defeats. In that Irish Cup Final on the 13th April 1901 the O’Reilly brothers – Harry, John B. and Joe played alongside each other in the forward line. This is the only occasion on which three brothers played together in the forward line in an Irish Cup Final.

Harry O’Reilly made a bright start on his international debut, forcing an early save from the Scottish goalkeeper. It proved a rare bright-spot in the Irish side’s day as they collapsed to an 11-0 defeat at Parkhead in February 1901. A month later Ireland put in a much more accomplished performance, but again failed to find the net in a 1-0 defeat by Wales. During the Welsh match, O'Reilly was reportedly knocked unconscious when Wales' legendary 'keeper Leigh Roose barged him into touch - all part of the game in those days and no free-kick was awarded.

There was a three-year gap between O’Reilly’s second and third caps. He was part of an all-amateur Dublin-based forward pairing with Bohemian’s Harold Sloan. While the duo were generally outclassed by the Scottish backs, O’Reilly was credited for his hard-work in the creation of Ireland’s late equaliser. Still, that proved his final game at international level as cross-channel talent was preferred for future matches.

Ireland Cap Details:
23-02-1901 Scotland A L 0-11 BC
23-03-1901 Wales... H L 0- 1 BC
26-03-1904 Scotland H D 1- 1 BC

Summary: 3/0. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 2.

Additional details by George Glass.

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