O’Flanagan Dr Kevin Image 1 Arsenal 1946


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Dublin born outside left Dr Kevin O’Flanagan was a multi talented amateur sportsman and a double international at football and rugby union. As a junior O’Flanagan played football with Johnny Carey at Home Farm, joining Irish League club Bohemians in 1936. He won the first of 10 caps for the FA of Ireland (Irish Free State) when playing for Bohemians, when studying medicine at the University College of Dublin, and he made his international debut against Norway on 7th November 1937, in a qualifier for the 1938 FIFA World Cup. O’Flanagan scored in the 3-3 draw. His team mates on the day included fellow debutant, Johnny Carey and Jimmy Dunne.

He won 7 of his caps while playing for Bohemians and scored 10 goals in total. The highlight of his international career came when he scored twice in a 2-2 away draw against Hungary on 18th May 1939. With Hungary 1-0 up at half-time, O’Flanagan turned the game around with two magnificent goals in the 52nd and 77th minutes. He scored the first with his left foot from twenty five yards and the second with his right foot from a similar distance. Only a very late goal denied the FAI a victory.

In 1939 O’Flanagan also played twice for the League of Ireland XI, helping them to 2-1 victories against an Irish League XI and a Scottish League XI. He won his last three caps for the FAI XI while at Arsenal. These included the game against England on 30th September 1946 when his team mates included his brother, Mick O’Flanagan. He made his final appearance for the FAI on 4th May 1947 in 2-0 defeat against Portugal. In 1946, while at Arsenal, O’Flanagan also played in two Victory internationals for the IFA (Northern Ireland) XI. On 2nd February at Windsor Park he played for the IFA XI in a 3-2 defeat to Scotland and then on 4th May he helped the Ireland defeat Wales 1-0 at Ninian Park. He also won 2 amateur caps for Ireland between 1949 and 1950

After the Second World War he captained Bohemians as they won the Dublin and Belfast Intercity Cup in 1945, beating Belfast Celtic 3-2 on aggregate in the Final. He then joined Arsenal as an amateur in October 1945. O’Flanagan made his Arsenal debut in a 6-0 FA Cup defeat to West Ham in January 1946, playing in the return leg which finished as a 1-0 victory for The Gunners. He made his Football League debut in September 1946 in a home defeat to Blackburn Rovers and scored three goals in 14 appearances during 1946-47 for Arsenal. He continued to play for Arsenal reserves until 1948. O’Flanagan also played for Corinthian Casuals in 1947, for Barnet in 1948 and 7 times for Second Division club Brentford having joined them in November 1949, playing his last match in January 1950 but saw his career cut short with an ankle injury..

In rugby union he appeared for UCD, Lansdowne, London Irish and Leinster featuring for Ireland’s national rugby side three times between 1942 and 1947. He was also a noted champion sprinter and long jumper and as a youth played Gaelic football for Dublin GAA. In his spare time he also played golf and tennis at a decent level.

He returned to Ireland to concentrate on his practice in Dublin and was doctor to the Irish Olympic team on numerous occasions. A chance encounter with FA chairman Stanley Rous led to his appointment to the British Olympic Medical Commission and to him becoming team doctor for Great Britain at the 1948 Summer Olympics. He also served on the Sports Medical Council. O’Flanagan subsequently became an Olympic official and served on the International Olympic Committee from 1976 to 1994. On his retirement he was made an honorary lifetime member of IOC.

His brother, Mick, was also a notable sportsman and also represented Ireland at both sports. A third brother, Charlie O’Flanagan, also played for Bohemians.


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