Bit O’ Red Wall: The Gallagher Rovers connection

It is more than 50 years since Sligo Rovers were involved in an epic FAI Cup run, ending with a 2-1 defeat against Bohemians, at their Dublin home ground, Dalymount Park, in a second replay. 

It was one of the most memorable adventures in Rovers’ colourful history.  Player manager, Ken Turner had assembled a talented squad that included centre half, David Pugh in his prime; striker Johnny Brooks; skilful midfieder Johnny Cooke; Galway-born goalkeeper Tom Lally; Glasgow Celtic teenager, Pat Mc Closkey, provided on loan to by Sean Fallon to his home town club, and locals, Gerry Mitchell and Tony Fagan.

Rovers had beaten Cork Hibs in a replay and the three-game 1970 Cup FInal final saga tested the financial resources of many fans. 

Some of the packed  ‘football specials’ trains struggled to get back to Sligo station on schedule and one wag christened them ‘the love trains.’ 

Even though Bohemians had most of the good fortune in the decisive match, Rovers’ football style and courage and the loyalty of its fans added to the club’s reputation.

Another local player also featured in the squad – winger, Dessie Gallagher.  

A native of Saint Brigid’s Place, Dessie was a winger with great pace and very solid on the ball.  

He was naturally fit because in his day job Dessie was a skilled painter employed by Meldrums of Castle Street and he used his bicycle to cycle to and from work.

On Sundays Dessie could be seen beetling down the wing in the Showgrounds.  

Dessie Gallagher with the great Tony Stenson

But for the rest of the week you might spot him cycling along Temple Street, wearing his white overalls with a ladder attached to his bicycle.

Dessie’s older brother, Johnny Gallagher, made his debut for Sligo Rovers in 1960 and was one of the youngest players in the history of the club.  

Unfortunately injury cut Johnny’s career but he remained a loyal supporter for the rest of his life.  

The late Johnny Gallagher

He worked as a breadman with local bakeries, McCarters and Tighes.

Dessie Gallagher died far too young in the 1980’s.  Johnny passed away in 2001.  But the Gallagher family’s link with Sligo and the Showgrounds is to be celebrated in the next phase of the Bit O’Red Wall.

Johnny’s son, Paul Gallagher, follows Sligo Rovers from his base in Singapore. 

Paul has been a generous supporter for the range of fundraising events that has kept the club afloat in recent years and he is keen to celebrate the family links on the Wall.

Paul, Kieron and Dominic Gallagher (son of Dessie, based in Manchester)

Paul is the managing director in the Asia Pacific region for Renishaw, a UK FTSE listed company and has lived in the region for 25 years.  

He and his wife, Patricia, have two sons . 21-year-old Kieron is studying at the University of Manchester and 18-year-old Jared is currently doing his military service in Signapore, after which he hopes to play in Singapore’s professional S league.      

A young Jared Gallagher on a visit to The Showgrounds in 2013 receiving a ball from Danny North. Jared trained with the Rovers Under-17’s on his last visit home and has played for Kitchee SC in Hong Kong 

The tile commemorating the Gallagher brothers will read

Johnny & Dessie


Wore The Red

The Singapore Gallaghers

The first phase of the Showgrounds Wall, featuring 315 tiles, was unveiled last year.  

It is planned to have a second section in place for the opening of the new season.  

The work is carried out by the renowned Boyle-based Stonemasons, Feelystone.

Click here to purchase a tile

Each tile, costing €100, has space for 3 lines with 16 characters, including spacing, in each line.

If you wish to book a space in the new section, please click here.

For more information, or to purchase a tile over the phone, you can contact Shane on 087-7526445.