Paddy Coad


Blue Plaque erected on 27th September 2014 to honour Paddy Coad, Waterford footballer.


Waterford Civic Trust, the FAI and Shamrock Rovers unveiled a blue plaque to honour the great footballer, Paddy Coad, on Saturday, 27th September. Paddy Coad (1920-1992) is remembered as an extraordinarily gifted footballer who played for Waterford, Glenavon, Shamrock Rovers and Ireland. Matt Busby said of him “Wish I could have seen him as a boy, what ability” in 1957 when Paddy was 37. 

Location: 95 Doyle Street

Paddy Coad: - The Greatest League of Ireland player of the 20th Century


Terms of Reference:


This report will investigate why Paddy Coad is claimed to be the greatest League of Ireland player of the 20th Century. His playing career spanned the period 1937 to 1962 with Waterford United and Shamrock Rovers and also included 11 International Caps.


Method of Procedure:


The researcher will use primary and secondary research. Primary research will include meetings with players who played with and against Coad during his career. Secondary research will include official websites such as, and relative newspaper archives from the local press. It should also be noted that Paddy Coad is the uncle of this researcher and I accept possible bias in this report.




Paddy Coad was born in 1920 and was sent to De La Salle School, Stephen Street. His first sporting distinction was Table Tennis where he became champion of Munster in the early 1930s.  His main sporting love however was soccer and he joined the local junior club Corinthians, based primarily on the Lower Yellow Road area. His exceptional talent was quickly realised by the local League of Ireland team and he played his first game for the 'Blues' in 1937. He moved to the Northern Ireland club Glenavon in the following year but he was there only a short while when WWII broke out and Paddy returned to Waterford to continue his career with the local club. (


After a couple of seasons with the Blues Coad signed for the famous Dublin club Shamrock Rovers in 1942 and it was with Rovers that he transformed play in the League with his tremendous skills; his passing of the ball and his overall leadership showed other clubs the way football should be played and he was responsible, almost single-handedly, for a general rise in standards. (


Every team tried to match Rovers in the new way forward.  At the time nobody could have envisaged the impact that Coad was to have on the Milltown club, he was to win every honour in the game including eleven international caps and he was to captain the Hoops to unprecedented success in the next decade. The Rovers team of this area became known as “Coads Colts” due to number of young players and by the time Rovers won the League title in 1953/54 he had put together what many old supporters believe now to be the best Hoops team ever. (


After he was made their coach, in 1949, Rovers became the dominant force in Irish football. Coad was the master-general and it was said of him that he did everything at the club but drive the bus. As a midfield general he was known, primarily, as a maker of goals but he did score 126 League of Ireland goals and 41 FAI Cup goals in his career.  As player-manager Shamrock Rovers won the League title on 3 occasions (1954, 1957 and 1959);  and were also  FAI Cup Winners on 4 occasions (in 1944, 1945, 1948 and 1956). He was selected eleven times for Ireland between 1946 and 1952 scoring 3 goals. He also played in twenty-four representative games (a record) for the League of Ireland, the last in 1955. These Inter-league representative matches were usually played on St. Patricks Day in Dalymount Park, where crowds in excess of 25000 gathered to see their heroes.


Shamrock Rovers entered the European Cup in 1957(the first time an Irish team had done so) and it was in this competition that Coad reserved one of his greatest performances for Rovers. That night  he dominated the European cup tie against the famous Busby Babes of  Manchester United at Old Trafford. His display that night had to be seen to be believed and it was described as the greatest by an Irish player in England up to that time. And remember - he was 37 years old.  Sir Matt Busby said after the game “ What a performance, I just wish I could have seen him as a young boy”. ( and Waterford Soccer Monthly)

Comments about Coad

 John Giles:”My schoolboy hero, the player we all wanted to be.

Alfie Hale: “A true Football legend”

Liam Touhy: “Loved the man, A genius”


Players such as Roy Keane, Kevin Doyle and Noel Hunt have gone on to make careers in England but none had the longevity of Coad in the League of Ireland. Respected figures in the game such as former internationals Peter Fitzgerald, Alfie Hale and John Giles have been involved in League of Ireland Football since the 1940’s and all are of the opinion that no player has come close to the ability that Paddy Coad showed during the height of his career.


Waterford-born Coad won eleven international caps, scored three goals and found fame in the domestic game. He was a gifted striker of the ball as his record of 126 League of Ireland goals and 41 FAI Cup goals proved.  His tally of 126 League goals ensures to this day his appearance in the top 10 goal scorers in League of Ireland history while his 41 FAI Cup goals makes him still the record goalscorer in the competitions history. (Source

Coad also had the distinction of scoring Ireland's winner in the 3-2 victory over Norway at the Ullevaal Stadium on May 30 1951. What was unique about this occasion was that it was the first time that a substitute had scored for Ireland in an International match.  (



This report found that Paddy Coad is widely accepted as being the greatest player to play in the League of Ireland, choosing not to grace his magnificent skills at the highest level with those who crossed the Irish Sea to further their careers at English clubs but to stay at home and leave his legacy as the greatest League of Ireland player of the 20th Century.  is today regarded, not only as the greatest Shamrock Rovers player of all time, but as the greatest League of Ireland player of the 20th century.  There are many, in Dublin as well as in Waterford, who will say that there never was anyone as good as Coad.  He was a true legend.  (



This report demonstrates that fame and respect in the professional game can be found in Ireland and that money doesn’t necessarily have to be the prime motivator. Perhaps if League of Ireland Clubs took a look back at how clubs were run in the past it might make the game in this country more sustainable. This report also recommends  that something should  to be done to increase crowd attendances at League of Ireland games through proper marketing and competitive pricing in order to try and get the crowds back to levels in the 1950’s and 1960’s when Football was a great leveller and appealed to a far wider crowd


References: (1st October 2012.) (2nd October 2012.) (10th October 2012.)

Waterford News & Star (1985 to date)

Munster Express (1985 to date)

(Waterford Soccer Monthly October  2008)


Conversations with former International Players & Team Mates:

John Giles

Alfie Hale

Liam Touhy