THIS day 30 years ago Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton breezed into town as guest speaker at a Bord Gais lunch.
The cross-channel season had just finished leading to the usual spate of international friendlies, which normally had a high absentee rate.
It was 24 hours before Ireland began their World Cup preparations with a game against Finland at Lansdowne Road which doubled up as Liam Brady’s testimonial.
Charlton began the process of selecting his squad for the finals in Italy and interest in our first ever qualification on the world stage was starting to pick up.
Ireland were drawn in the same group as England, Egypt and Holland, with the opening game against the English a month away.
The Ireland manager was quite free in his discussions about facing the country of his birth and as a World Cup winner himself in 1966.
Charlton didn’t shy away when quizzed about the possible presence of Paul Gascoigne in the England line-up.
“Paul McGrath will be asked to look after him alone,” the manager said, matter of fact.
Charlton knew all about Gascoigne because he signed him as a 17-year-old when Newcastle United manager.
“I brought him straight into the team. He has a lot of ability though there was always a question mark over his temperament at the higher levels. Paul is a very good passer of the ball.”
Then with Spurs, Gascoigne wasn’t certain of starting against Ireland, but he was set to be included in a friendly against the non-qualified Danes at Wembley.
Charlton was skipping the Ireland game to run the eye over England.
“I want to check on their style of play rather than on any one individual,” he added.
Meanwhile, 160 miles up the road in the capital, assistant-manager Maurice Setters was overseeing training for the Finland encounter.
And the big concern surrounded the fitness of key Liverpool midfielder Ronnie Whelan, who hobbled into the camp after suffering an ankle injury against Arsenal.
Despite having his leg in plaster, Whelan remained upbeat about his chances of making the England game in Cagliari on Sardinia.
“Don’t worry about me for the World Cup, I’ll be there,” Whelan said on arrival.
He made a point of flying into Dublin to reassure the Irish management that all would be fine.
“I fractured a small bone about three weeks ago and was walking away without realising that I had done it.
“I thought I had damaged ligaments. It didn’t show up on the first x-ray and it wasn’t getting any better.
“It was still sore, so I went for a scan and that showed up the broken bone.
“The plaster comes off in a couple of weeks and the fact that it took two x-rays to find it shows it can’t be bad. I’ll be in Italy,” Whelan declared.
The Liverpool great was just one of many out injured or involved in play-offs, a combination which was playing havoc with Ireland’s preparations and finalising a squad, too.
That had to be unveiled at the end of the month and Setters outlined the extent of the problems facing management.
“We are in a critical position and we could be the last country to name our World Cup 22.
“Our plans are more at risk than anyone else and we could end up delaying our selection until the deadline on the 29th. We are certainly not ruling out any single player at this point although we know ideally who we want in the squad.But we could end up taking a couple of players no-one has even thought about,” Setters commented.