The Republic of Ireland’s international friendly against Israel on November 10, 1987 wasn’t shown on television.
That evening, national broadcaster RTÉ 1 broadcast A Growing Obsession, the first in a series on gardeners who cultivated exotic plants, while RTÉ 2 was showing a repeat of weekly soap opera Glenroe. There wasn’t even a highlights show aired, with documentaries on sheepdogs and the music of composer John Field shown instead.
It’s hardly surprising – the win over Brazil in May of that year hadn’t been shown live either – but, even if it the match had been on TV, it’s unlikely that the majority of the viewers would have noticed the subtle changes to the Ireland kit that night.
On first glance, you may assume that you are looking at the 1990 World Cup kit, but that had no cuffs, a ‘V’ pattern in the fabric and a wrapover neck.
Essentially, it was the same kit as that which had been worn for the previous year and a half since adidas had come in (the crest had been updated in that time), but orange trim had been added to the neck and cuffs.
David Kelly made his debut for Ireland that night, scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win, and Eddie O’Mahony has Kelly’s shirts on his fine site, Ireland Soccer Shirts.
Perhaps adidas’s Irish licensees Three-Stripe International were using the game as a low-key opportunity to test elements of the new kit to be worn at Euro 88 – when that first appeared in Ireland’s next game, at home to Romania the following March, it featured orange on the neck and cuffs, as well as the distinctive armbands.
Unfortunately, it’s another of those answerless mysteries we seem to be collecting.