Carling Legends - Denis Irwin Meets Manchester United

As Auditions Go. . .Denis Irwin and Oldham Meet Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo, Andy Cole, Eric Cantona, and Roy Keane.
All famously impressed Alex Ferguson when playing against United. But before CR7 and the rest, there was Denis Irwin.
Thought of by many United fans as the best pound for pound signing made by Ferguson is his remarkable tenure at the Manchester club. Irwin won league titles, league cups, European silverware and no less than three FA Cups in a glittering 12 year career at the club. The Corkman could play left or right back, take set-pieces, defend, attack, and was renowned for rarely dipping below an 8/10 performance.

All that sounds like good value when you consider United picked him up for a sum of £625,000. By 1990, after several strong seasons with Oldham, Irwin was impressing a number of clubs. Oldham themselves were impressing with their run to the Cup semi-final. The then second division club accounted for Birmingham after a replay in the third round, Brighton were beaten in the fourth round, Everton were up next in the last 16.
The Lancashire club needed two replays, but against all odds knocked out the 1987 First Division Champions.
Aston Villa were then dispatched 3-0 to set up a last four tie with United.

Ferguson’s United were struggling in the league but managed to fight their way through to the semi-finals with wins over Nottingham Forest, Hereford, Newcastle United and Sheffield United. Their first meeting was a six-goal thriller at Maine Road. The Latics took a sensational lead in just the fifth minute of the game through Earl Barrett.
Bryan Robson did what he always did when his team needed him most and got United back on par. Neil Webb seemed to have given the Reds a telling lead until Ian Marshall made it 2-2 moments later. Extra time followed with Danny Wallace’s 92nd minute goal being cancelled out by Roger Palmer. 3-3.


Oldham set for another date with Manchester United at Maine Road for a Cup replay. The second game was no less dramatic. Brian McLair’s goal early in the second half looked to have finally booked United’s passage to the Cup final. But then up stepped former United striker Andy Ritchie in the 81st minute to smash the ball past Jim Leighton.

You better believe he celebrated against his former club! Extra time beckoned once again. On this occasion, Ferguson looked to Mark Robbins who’s tidy finish in the 114th minute sent United to the Cup final. The Reds needed a replay in the final but eventually got over the line against Crystal Palace to secure their first trophy under the Scottish manager who’s job was considered insecure at best at the time. Irwin impressed in both games to put the seal on his move to Manchester the following season. Both Ferguson and Irwin would go on to collect a stunning amount of silverware together through the 90s.

Find out more about amazing stories like this from Denis Irwin, with Carling at The Goalpost Pub Tullamore on Saturday 20th April to watch the Emirates FA Cup Semi Final⚽

Claim your FREE ticket and find out what it is like to play in an FA Cup Final by registering here 👉

Your FREE ticket includes a Carling welcome reception, food, a Q&A with Denis Irwin and a chance to win a signed shirt.

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