From marking Pele to scoring an overhead goal in Croke Park

David Pugh, future student at St Joseph's teacher training college in Belfast, takes on the legendary Pele in 1968.

Among the Ranchers who’ll surely be talked about next month is the remarkable David Pugh.

The Sligo man was better known for soccer, but was able to represent St Joseph’s at [Gaelic] football after `the Ban’ on ‘foreign games’ was lifted at the GAA Congress held at Queen’s University in April 1971. Somewhat ironically, the only two counties to vote against the removal of Rule 27 were Antrim and Sligo.

Smyth called back to tell a tale about Pugh: “In 1971 ‘the Ban’ was just lifted, so we had playing for us at the time a fella called David Pugh. He played for Sligo Rovers and the Republic of Ireland [at U23 level].

“He also told us that he was in New York, where he marked Pele, which I could well believe.”

Indeed a photograph proves that Pugh did play against the Brazilian legend when representing Boston Beacons against Santos in July 1968.

“We were playing the Ryan Cup Final in Croke Park in May 1971 and the ball came to Pugh. Any other mere mortal would have caught it and fisted it over the bar or kicked it over the bar.

“But the boul’ David embarked on a scissors kick – and scored an absolute rocket of a goal much to the chagrin of our opponents.

“We don’t know if there was any connection, but we didn’t get the cup presented up in the stand - we got the cup in the tunnel at Croke Park.

“Pugh was one of the very few from down south – along with a brother of Enda Kenny, who appeared later.”

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