The night of November 2, 2019 will live long in infamy for Shamrock Rovers fans as thousands celebrated the club’s historic achievement of 25 FAI Cup wins.
For one fan, the celebrations didn’t continue for long at the Aviva Stadium.
Shortly after the festivities died down at Lansdowne Road, Robert Goggins was on the way home to begin work on the conclusion to a 21-year project to mark the Hoops’ storied cup history.
When he began work on She Wore a Green Ribbon in 1998, with the club amid their longest-ever cup drought of 11 years, he could scarcely have believed another 21 would tick by before finishing.
He had already released on book on Rovers’ history with former board member Paul Doolan, and he managed to add three more while waiting to conclude the new release.
The plan was always to release the book to coincide with Rovers’ 25th FAI Cup win but, as the text got a little longer every year, Cup final defeats in 2002 and 2010 only prolonged the agony.
But when Gary O’Neill hit the back of the net to seal a penalty shoot-out win for Stephen Bradley’s side against one of the all-time greatest Dundalk teams, Goggins could finally see an end in sight.
“I went straight home straight after the match,” Goggins told Dublin Gazette.
“I came home about eight o’clock and just started straight away to update it.
“I contacted the printer and the graphics designers the next day and everything moved very quickly.
“It was a great relief to have finally signed off on the book because there was still an awful lot of work to be done on it even though I had been working on it for 20 years.”
Whatever relief Goggins the author felt was nothing compared with that of Goggins the fan, who had waited decades to see their side reach such heights again.
Rovers’ last cup win, symbolically, had come in 1987 – the zenith of the four-in-a-row side, but also the year Glenmalure Park was sold from under them by owners the Kilcoynes.
That remains the era Goggins – who says “I’ve done most of Rovers’ history at this point – remembers most fondly, a time when Rovers’ tag of ‘cup specialists’ was one to be feared.
“I’ve always had a special interest in the FAI Cup competition, and it always meant a lot to me to see Shamrock Rovers doing well in it.
“Winning the three cups from 1985-1987, they were three great years and to do the double in those three years. We had a great team.
“Unfortunately, it was sullied by the last year when we discovered coming up to the cup final that Milltown was to be sold for redevelopment.
“I wouldn’t let that take from it because I’ve got great memories from that four-in-a-row era and I’d have known the players personally.”
** She Wore a Green Ribbon is available in the Rovers club shop at Tallaght Stadium or in store and online via Bermingham Cameras, Burgh Quay.