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Isaac Doherty

Name: Isaac Doherty
Born: 2 June 1879, Belfast
Died: 4 July 1945, Belfast
Position: Inside-Left

Representative Honours: Ireland: 1 Full Cap (1901); Irish League: 1 Cap (1903).
Club Honours: (with Linfield) Irish League Runner-up 1898/99, 1899/1900; Irish Cup Winner 1898/99; Charity Cup Winner 1898/99; County Antrim Shield Winner 1898/99, Runner-up 1899/1900; (with Belfast Celtic) City Cup Runner-up 1901/02, 1902/03; (see note below).

Club Career:
Teams......... --Seasons-- -Signed- League
Linfield...... 97/98-99/00 Apr-1898 .51/15 (all games)
Belfast Celtic 00/01-03/04 Aug-1900 .??/20 (all games)
(see note below)

Isaac Doherty, an inside-forward or winger, started his career with Linfield and made his senior debut in a City Cup match against Distillery on the 9th April 1898. He was a regular in the team for 1898/99 season, mainly as an inside-left, but deputised on the left wing for International left-winger Joseph Croft McAllen when he was not available. Linfield had a very successful season in 1898/99 and Isaac gained winner’s medals in the Irish Cup, County Antrim Shield and Charity Cup, as well as a runner-up medal in the Irish League.

The Irish Cup in 1899 was won in controversial circumstances. The Glentoran team walked off the pitch after 85 minutes, causing the match to be abandoned. Glentoran claimed that a Linfield player had punched the ball off the goal-line, and that no penalty was awarded – three days later Linfield were awarded the Cup, and the 1-0 scoreline stood.

In 1899/1900 season Doherty made sufficient appearances in the start of the season to gain another Runner-up medal in the Irish League. However, his appearances were few and far between after this. He did however play several matches in April 1900 as inside-right replacement for recently signed Royal Scot’s player Paddy Hagan. During this spell he played in the County Antrim Shield Final, losing 2-0 to Distillery. When the offer came to join Belfast Celtic he accepted and signed for them in August 1900.

It was after his move to Belfast Celtic that Doherty was capped for the only time, in a 3-0 defeat by England at the Dell, Southampton. Two years later he won his only Inter-League cap, in a 1-0 win over Scotland at Distillery’s Grosvenor Park. Apart from his appearances for Ireland and the Irish League probably his most memorable moment would have been guesting for Linfield at Windsor Park in a match with Glasgow Rangers on the 9th April 1901. For the record Rangers won 8-1 and Linfield played three guest players (the three inside-forwards). Namely Walter Wheeler (Cliftonville), Hugh McKelvey (Glentoran) and Isaac Doherty (Belfast Celtic)

Doherty spent four years at Belfast Celtic, playing regularly on the left wing scoring a credible 21 goals for them. Belfast Celtic had to take part in Play-offs in the City Cup Competitions of 1901/02 and 1902/03 to gain Runners-up medals. One bizarre incident of note took place in 1901. In the fifth round match at Celtic Park on the 12th January 1901 Cliftonville were defeated 2-0 by Belfast Celtic. At the end of the match an astute Cliftonville Official measured the goalposts at one end and discovered them to be 2 inches short. Cliftonville lodged an appeal which was upheld. The match was ordered to be replayed at Solitude. In the replay on the 18th February, Cliftonville won 4-2, to progress into a Semi-Final against Derry Celtic. Relations between Belfast Celtic and Cliftonville were not improved by this incident. Crowd trouble between the two sets of supporters was already common-place and notices that trouble-makers would be prosecuted were posted at both grounds.

Celtic did reach the County Antrim Shield Final and the Charity Cup Final in April 1904 but strangely Isaac did not appear in either of these matches. His time at Belfast Celtic had come to an end. 

(See notes below)

Doherty was married in 1900 to Sara Jane Turner, the sister of William Turner who was later knighted and served as the Lord Mayor of Belfast as well as act as suffer a political defeat to one of Doherty's international teammates, WK Gibson in the 1909 Belfast Corporation election. The couple had four children, two sons and two daughters. Sadly both daughters died comparatively young, the first from Scarlet Fever. Doherty appears to have lived his entire life in Belfast, residing at various times on the junction of the Falls Road and Broadway, on Cupar Street and just off the Crumlin Road. When he died in 1945 he was laid to rest in the Glenalina Section of the Belfast City Cemetery.

Ireland Cap Details:
09-03-1901 England. A L 0-3 BC

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

Season 1904/05 is sparsely reported in the Newspapers. They did not include the usual reports on player’s movements from club to club or new signings for the season. Also very few Christian names or initials were mentioned. It is therefore virtually impossible to confirm that the outside left who played for Glentoran that season was Isaac. On the other hand as there is no trace of such a player other than at Belfast Celtic 1903/04 and anywhere else in Irish football for quite a few years later it is very conceivable that the following could relate to him.

Club Honours: (with Glentoran) Irish League Champion 1904/05; City Cup Runner-up 1904/05.

Club Career:
Glentoran ..... 04/05 ..... Aug-1904 .28/ 9 (all games)

Doherty made his debut for Glentoran against Distillery in the Irish League on the 3rd September 1904. He played at outside left in 28 consecutive matches, scoring 9 goals in the process. Most pleasing for him would probably have been his goal against his old club Belfast Celtic in the 3-1 defeat of them in the Test Match to decide the Gibson Cup. Unfortunately he missed the final match of the season – the Charity Cup Final against Linfield on the 6th May 1905.

His last known match in Senior football was v Distillery on the 2nd May. Was he injured and never played again?

Can you provide any information that would confirm or rule out the above conjecture? Please get in touch.

Football career information and picture by George Glass. Personal information provided by Tom Doherty, Isaac's grandson.


Emma said…
Dear Sir/Madam

I have been doing research and believe that Isaac Doherty could be my great-grandfather. I may not be correct but love be grateful if i could be put in contact with Tom Doherty to find out if i am correct.

Best Wishes

jcd said…
Hi Emma,
If you email to I can forward your details to Tom.
Emma said…
Hi Jonny

Thanks for getting back to me.
Yes I will email you now.

Best Wishes