Updated: 03/08/12 : 06:58:09
SLIGO TOWN was represented in the first-ever Irish team to take part in the Olympic Games.
And a famous Games they were, too -- the memorable ''Chariots of Fire'' triumph by Eric Liddell, The Flying Scotsman, is for what it is best remembered.
But Ireland made its own history in the Paris Olympics of 1924.
It was the first time the infant State took part....thanks to a decision made, also in Paris, two years earlier when the annual congress of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to recognise Ireland as an independent nation.
The first Irish team to take part in the 1924 Games were 16 soccer players drawn from just four clubs in the League of Ireland.
On St Patricks Day Athlone Town had won the Free State Cup, now the FAI Cup.
Athlone supplied five players for the Irish squad -- the famed Dinny Hannon who had scored the Cup Final winner and captained Ireland on its Olympic debut, Frank Ghent, Paddy O'Reilly, Tommy Muldoon and John Joe Dykes.
Dykes was from Sligo Town and he played at centre half for both Athlone and Ireland, the lynchpin position in defences, wearing the number 5 shirt -- and a key reason why Athlone had won the Cup without conceding a goal in any round.
Got A Bye
There were 22 soccer teams in the Olympics in 1924, won by a Uruguay team of whom seven would go on to win the inaugural World Cup in 1930.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland stayed out of the 1924 Olympics in a dispute over definition of amateur status.
Ireland's team debut in the Olympics was played in the famed Stade de Colombe, with a capacity then of 45,000.
The official attendance on the day was 1,659.......including 1,137 complimentary tickets!!!
The opponents on May 28th were Bulgaria; each had got a bye from the previous round.
Ireland won 1-0 and then had to face a team which is Ireland's bogey to this day. Holland won 2-1 but only after extra time.
The attendance at the Dutch game on June 2nd 1924 was 893 paying customers and 613 complimentary tickets.
Ireland, incidentally, stayed outside the Olympic village and opted instead to base itself in a nearby hotel. Not that it was all luxury; they had arrived in Paris after a gruelling 48 hour trip which started with the train to Dun Laoire and the boat to Holyhead.
This history-making Irish soccer team features in a special July/August edition of ''History Ireland'' (priced €6.70), which reports on Ireland's involvement in all sports in all Olympic Games since.
The trip to France had, however, the happiest of endings for John Joe Dykes.
The Sligo man was chosen to captain Ireland when it defeated Estonia 3-1 in a friendly played on June 3rd -- the only Sligo native ever to captain a senior Irish international soccer team.
The following day, June 4th, Dykes was with the Irish squad which met Jules Rimet, the President of soccer's international governing body, FIFA, at a reception hosted for them by a Paris club with links to Ireland.
The first soccer World Cup trophy -- including the one won by England in July 1966 -- was named after Jules Rimet.
This month's ''History Ireland'' magazine account of that celebratory evening with the history making Irish soccer squad and Jules Rimet notes: ''Newspaper reports referred to 'A Soldiers Song being lustily delivered late in the evening''!!! The ''garrison game'' had come a long way.
Finally, another soccer squad playing in those 1924 Olympic Games, the United States, stopped off in Ireland on its way home.
John Joe Dykes did not play as the hosts won 3-1 but the game is also famously recalled for American players gathering in the centre circle and doing a battle cry routine.
Not quite The Haka of New Zealand rugby fame but not as ordered either as the post game rituals recently performed by players and spectators combined of Spartak Trnava from Slovakia when it met Sligo Rovers in the Europa League.
Link to History Ireland website: http://www.historyireland.com/
Photo: John Joe Dykes - International Olympic Council (IOC), Lausanne.