Ronnie Whelan, Sr. (b. November 17, 1936, Dublin; d. 1993) was an Irish international footballer chiefly associated with St. Patricks Athletic FC. His son, Ronnie Whelan, Jr., would later exceed his father's fame and become one of the most decorated players in English football history.
Whelan, a forward, reputedly owed his advancement at junior level to the good offices of Paddy Moore's wife, who brought the youngster's potential to her husband's attention, in his capacity as manager of renowned Dublin junior schoolboy club Stella Maris. Whelan subsequently graduated from Stella Maris as a talented young player to, Home Farm, where his precocious prowess earned him a brief but ultimately frutiless trial period at Chelsea F.C.
Upon his return to Ireland, Whelan placed his talents at the disposal of St. Patricks Athletic, a club still riding the initial surge of momentum which had elevated it from junior football in 1950 to instant League of Ireland champion status in the 1951-52 season. Whelan contributed an aggregate of 89 league goals to St. Pat's scoring ledger in a seven-year tenure at Richmond Park which encompassed FAI Cup victories in 1959 and 1961 (the latter of which remains, as of 2006, St. Pat's most recent success in the competition.) Whelan attained full international status in 1963, winning the first of two Republic of Ireland caps against Austria in a European Nations Cup qualifier.
The toll exacted upon Whelan's ability and availability by an accumulation of injuries contributed to his departure from St. Pat's in 1967, whereupon he commenced a six-year association with Drogheda United. Whelan steered Drogheda to an inaugural appearance in the 1971 FAI Cup final, where the Co. Louth club succumbed to Limerick City after a replay. It would be a further thirty-four years before Drogheda captured the blue riband event of Irish football, but Gavin Whelan's opening goal against Cork City in the 2005 decider brought his family's footballing narrative full-circle; the midfielder is Ronnie Snr.'s grandson.
Whelan died, aged 57, in 1993. His legacy endures in the person of his sons, Ronnie Whelan Jnr. (fifty-three times an Irish international and the winner of countless trophies and plaudits with Liverpool F.C.) and Paul Whelan, a Shamrock Rovers stalwart and father of Gavin Whelan