Eoin Hand delights RISSC audience

Eoin Hand - Guest Speaker at the February 2006 Club Meeting
RISSC (London) was delighted to welcome former Republic of Ireland international player and manager, Eoin Hand, as guest speaker at the February 2006 meeting of the club. Eoin, who was born in Drumcondra, joined Portsmouth in 1968 after a brief spell with Swindon Town. Eoin remained with the Fratton Park club until 1976 and returned again to the south coast of England for two seasons from 1977 to 1979.

Eoin cut his managerial teeth with Limerick in the League of Ireland and at 34 became the youngest manager in International football when he was appointed to the Ireland job. Ireland were only defeated twice in the 1982 World Cup qualifying group which contained France, Belgium, Holland and Cyprus and failed to qualify for the finals on goal difference. It was also during the reign of Eoin Hand that Ireland recorded its record 8-0 victory over Malta in Dalymount Park.

Following the failure of the team to qualify for the 1986 World Cup finals from a group containing Denmark, USSR, Norway and Switzerland, Eoin was replaced as Ireland Manager, by Jack Charlton. A four year stint as manager of Huddersfield Town was followed by periods in Saudi Arabia and South Africa before he returned to Dublin in 1996.

Eoin told his audience at the Crown Moran Hotel, of the personal trauma that coloured his life during August 1997. His recovery from serious surgery was a remarkable feat of courage and he told us that while many considered him to be Ireland's unluckiest manager, he himself did not share that sentiment and believed his real stroke of good fortune was his survival and emergence from those dark days.

Eoin outlined the background leading to his current role as Career Guidance Officer for the FAI. He explained the challenges and difficulties surrounding the export of young Irish footballers to England and Scotland and his position in providing appropriate advice and guidance to these young footballers and their parents. He also addressed the issues,which befall many of these young men, when the dream fades and they are cast adrift from the professional game across the water.

At the request of many of his RISSC audience, Eoin revisited some of the highlights and indeed low points of both his playing and managerial career. He told us of his time as an international player under the stewardship of the legendary John Giles, of the infamous 1982 trip to South America and the journey to the old USSR when his wife accompanied the party as cook. Those were the days!

Following completion of his excellent presentation, Eoin spent some considerable time in discussion and debate with numerous interested club members and he will be a very welcome return visitor to the club, hopefully, in the not too distant future

Eoin now resides in the delightful surroundings of Moyvane in County Kerry and in addition to his invaluable role as Career Guidance Office, is also a soccer analyst with RTE and can be heard summarising Eircom League matches on Friday evening radio throughout the season.