Murphy’s Stout Cork AUL
CORK SOCCER HONOURS AWARDS 2016
All the recipients at the soccer awards held in the Kiln Room in Murphy’s Brewery on Friday night (25 November 2016). Also in the picture is Ted O’Mahony (Cork AUL Chairman and Jim Cashman (Murphy’s Irish Stout).
Cork Soccer Honours Soccer Legend
MICHAEL “Blondie” AHERNE
MICHAEL “Blondie” AHERNE
In May 1951 English League side Luton Town travelled to the Mardyke for a beneﬁt match when “early birds” to the venue enjoyed the curtain raiser, an U14 League tie between Ringmahon Rangers, who were making their ﬁrst ever appearance on a football pitch, and Western Rovers. Some very famous sports stars, including future rugby Internationals Tom Kiernan and Jerry Walsh, lined out with Western who took the points thanks to a lone goal from Don Durston who played for Ilford in the FA Amateur Cup ﬁnal at Wembley in 1968. Among the Ringmahon debutants was an eleven year old kid who eight years later would become synonymous with the venue and with Cork Hibernians. In the meantime he helped create, not one but two records in underage football which could never be bettered. The ﬁrst record was being a member of a Ringmahon team which won the U16 League Championship with maximum points and without conceding a goal. Of course, the International selectors had to take note of that great achievement and two of their stars were capped. Goalkeeper Bobby Brohan had to be recognised and the other cap was awarded to Michael “Blondie” Aherne, the hottest talent on Leeside.
Blondie wasn’t the most popular player down in the ﬁshing village when the following season he transferred to deadly rivals Glasheen. With Glasheen he helped set another astonishing record 7 a clean sweep of every trophy available to Youth teams in the country including, of course, the FAI Minor Cup. Their record in that memorable 1957 season was played 38, won 38, scored 154 goals and conceded just 15.
Blondie made his debut for Cork Hibs versus Transport during the 1959-60 season and in a career spanning seven seasons he played 208 times and scored 19 goals. Up the ‘Dyke he partnered some of the legendary cross channel signings such as Charlie Tully and Tommy Eglinton and provided the assists for lethal strikers Jackie Mooney, Eddie Bailharn and Tommy Hamilton. Hibs in those days were, like their neighbours Cork Celtic, a Cinderella team who suffered two FAI Cup ﬁnal defeats at the hands of the classy youthful Shelbourne in 1960 and ’63. In the 1960 showpiece Blondie was opposed by future Manchester United full back Tony Dunne who, although considered a Speedster, had his hands full trying to contain the equally fast Corkman. In 1963 Hibs had an equalising goal disallowed by the English referee Arthur Holland as their trainer Georgie O’Sullivan had not fully exited the ﬁeld of play after being on to treat an injured player. Those were the sad days but in a memorable career he had the distinction of being capped four times at amateur level against Great Britain, England, Switzerland and Italy. After seven years, the last one interrupted frequently by injury, Blondie announced his retirement on New Year’s Eve 1967 following Hibs League clash with Shels. Major honours may have eluded him in the League of Ireland but when soccer fans reminisce, Blondie’s name trips off many tongues and he is a worthy addition to the list of Cork Soccer Legends.
Cork Soccer Honours Hall of Fame
When the Cork Schoolboys League was forced to vacate their Togher headquarters in 1968 nostalgia went into overdrive. Connoisseurs of the schoolboy grade began selecting the venue’s best ever players
This year’s Hall of Fame recipient Liam Ronayne made most of the lists and was included along with never to be forgotten players like Carl Humphreys, Willie Henchion, Billy Treacy, Tony O’Brien, John Herrick, Bootsie Lynch and Barry McGann to mention but a few.
During his years, the most competitive ever, in the schoolboy grade, honours were shared equally between several teams. For instance in 1964, the year Wembley won the Evans National Cup (the last time the trophy came to Cork), Tower won the local cup and Tramore Athletic, inspired by Liam, clinched the League Championship
When just 18 he signed for Cork Celtic in August 1968 and in his ﬁrst season, belying his youth, he produced a “Man of the Match’ performance on the team which drew with mighty Shamrock Rovers in the drawn FAI Cup ﬁnal. “Ronayne’s composure, conﬁdence and control had to be seen to be believed. His performance was all the more remarkable due to the fact that he had only come into the side two months earlier”, reported the Cork Examiner. Celtic were within eight minutes of a sensational victory when full back John Keogh (a former Shams player) scored an OG. Lucky Rovers won the replay to retain the trophy for the eighth successive season.
It was onwards and upwards for Liam after that and he was a member of the squad that won the League Championship, under Paul O’Donovan, for the ﬁrst time in 1974. Throughout his career Liam suffered with cartilage problems and transferred to the less demanding senior league to assist Everton. In emergency situations he returned to struggling Cork Celtic. After Everton he performed a dual role of senior player and schoolboy coach with Glasheen.
As a veteran he became player manager of Villa United and helped them create a major shock when winning the AOH cup in 1991. He was assisted with Villa by Brian Mooney and the duo (Clough and Taylor of Cork Soccer) worked the magic again in 1994 when taking charge of the Everton team which won the MSL for the only time in their history. From his earliest days to the veteran years Liam was a standout player and is a worthy addition to Cork Soccer’s Hall of Fame.
Distinguished Service Award Winner
Denis O’Driscoll (Cork AUL) presents a Distinguished award to Brian Lennox at the Cork Soccer Honours Awards held in the The Kiln on Friday night. Also in the picture is Jim Cashman (Murphy’s Irish Stout).
Cork soccer history is unique and unlike that of any other in this country it is littered with club casualties, expulsions, dismissals and liquidations all arising out of bad organisation and instability. Nine Leeside clubs all entered the League of Ireland club obituary column and Cork City FC were about to join them on that list in the middle nineties when a group of business men came to their rescue. Brian Lennox, vice chairman of that club saving consortium, emerged to take control of Cork City in 2002 and endorsed the club’s entry into professionalism. Why would anyone want to take ownership of a club in a city with such an abysmal club lifeline history? One football chairman describes the ideal football club owner as having deep pockets, soccer fanatic, mercurial, not faint-hearted and able to watch ﬁfty euro notes burn. Brian Lennox was a successful businessman and a lifelong soccer lover. Coming from a family steeped in sporting traditions, whose father Jackie was revered in his adopted city for his brilliance as a double winning soccer star with Cork Athletic motivated Brian to succeed in his enormous role. He was rewarded with some major successes on and off the ﬁeld. Little things like the family enclosure, the introduction of ticket scan and the securing of the UEFA Club license were all important while the progress in European Competitions and the lifting of the League Championship in 2005 were just dreams come true. For Cork and Brian it was about winning more than just taking part when it came to Europe. After one memorable European victory Brian said, “We have always said that we want to go places. Now we are actually doing something about it. “We are walking the walk and not just talking the talk. This is a very proud night for Cork City FC and a very proud night for me.”
Brian was a pragmatist, a hands-on chairman who was not afraid to air his views and was constantly demanding improvements from footballs administrators. He was not a fan of live TV broadcasts and said, “The Eircom League is not ready for Live TV, it still has not got the product to show”. He advocated a slick well-presented highlights programme shown at a reasonable time (not 11pm) with enthusiastic passionate analysers. Brian was bang on and still a problem exists today as there are certain grounds that will never look good on TV without major infrastructural investment
When Brian took over City the cost of running the club was estimated at around €1.5 million and within a few years had risen to €2 and €2.5 million. During his first four years in charge he invested hugely in the club but didn’t have unlimited ﬁnancial resources and having failed to persuade local business interests to invest the club came into possession of London based Arkaka.
Brian never lost interest in football and is still a patron of the club and widely recognised as the ‘patron saint” of all clubs. He was Avondale’s sponsor in the years that the Ballintemple club dominated Irish Senior soccer. He is well aware of the ﬁnancial constraints associated with the running of junior soccer clubs and has helped many throughout the years. Brian has come a long way since his ﬂying winger days with Lough Celtic in the AUL in 1993 and has perpetuated the Lennox name. It is to his eternal credit that he is revered in Cork soccer as much as his father was in the halcyon years of the Beautiful Game. He is unquestionably deserving of this award for his vast contribution to Cork soccer.
Distinguished Service Award Winner
By way of introducing our recipient for distinguished service to Cork soccer I’ll tell you a little corny story.
One day St Peter came face to face with the devil and he challenged him to a soccer match. “You’re on”, snarled Satan. “Ye haven’t a prayer”, smiled Peter who continued, “All the stars are in Heaven – George Best, Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews, Eusebio and Bobby Moore”. The cocky, mischievous devil replied, “Aaaaahhh you can have them all, you’ll lose, you’ll lose!” taunted the Devil. “What makes you so sure we’ll lose?” enquired St Peter. “Because,” laughed the Devil, “we have all the referees down here.”
It has often been said that the perfect referee must have a skin like a rhinoceros and be as deaf as a door nail. They have been insulted and cursed, snarled at match after match, but still thrive on the excitement of the game at close quarters. Who’d want to be a ref? Unfortunately, not enough former players are willing to step forward. Yet our recipient tonight has, despite those negatives, completed 50 years as a Knight of the Whistle. For him life without soccer was unimaginable and growing up, like all other football fanatics, dreamed of becoming a soccer star. He failed to fulﬁl that lofty ambition but not for the want of trying. Dave Dorgan played underage with Glasheen where his opportunities were limited on a star studded side that included Barry McGann, Blondie Carroll and several other internationals. It was an honour to be a member of that squad which swept the boards in Schoolboy soccer. He wasn’t blessed with the wonderful skills of his uncle Patsy and according to himself wasn’t going to be very good so, while still playing underage, he took up refereeing and officiated in his ﬁrst game when just 16 years old. After playing with his team on a Sunday morning Dave, foregoing his dinner, would either cycle or use two buses to get to Togher to referee a schoolboys match. Life became easier when he called time on the playing side and became a full-time referee. And he unselﬁshly contributed much more to the “Beautiful Game” when he became an administrator in the Cork
Schoolboys League, a role he performed with diligence and enthusiasm for twenty years. Dave by then was ofﬁciating in the AUL, Schoolboys, Cork Shipping and Inter House Leagues. His happiest days were spent in the Schoolboys’ League and he reverted to them any time an opportunity arose. His biggest thrill was being selected to referee the 1978 Evans National Cup ﬁnal when Tramore were defeated at Flower Lodge by Home Farm.
If Dave had a fault it had to be that he was too much of a gentleman and rarely contributed to the ﬁnances of the various leagues with the issuing of red and yellow cards. A golden jubilee is a craved milestone in any walk of life but to achieve it as a ref is deserving of special recognition and surely entitles Dave to a very belated induction on to the list of those honoured for distinguished service to Cork soccer. Football referees will continue to rock on an emotional see-saw, one day ready to pack it all in and then feeling a surge of adrenalin before the next match. It is an obsession which yields more satisfaction than frustration. Age sometimes catches up on referees and when Eddie lost his burst of speed it precipitated his retirement from active participation.
Distinguished Service Award Winner
When Cork Athletics membership of the League of Ireland was cancelled due to their poor ﬁnancial position in 1957, Cork Hibs were elected in their place. All the former Cork Athletic stars had by the time of Hibs late entry signed for other clubs resulting in the newcomers having to recruit players from the local leagues.
The cream of local talent answered the call to arms and eight untried players made their debuts against Waterford at Kilcohan Park. Among them was Rockmount youth player Eddie Goggin who signed along with team-mate Jerry Lane. Rockmount won their ﬁrst ever underage trophy when they defeated the supposedly invincible Glasheen in the Murphy Minor Cup ﬁnal in 1955. The following year Eddie, a classic wing half, played a starring role as the trophy was retained. Twelve months later Rockmount were the talk of Cork and swept the board in youth’s football which included a hat trick of Murphy Cup triumphs.
Using several of their youth stars including the masterly midﬁelder Eddie Goggin, Rockmount made a bid for the coveted FAI Junior Cup. In the semi—ﬁnal, played in a quagmire at Turner’s Cross, they were held by Dublin’s Virginians who won the replay in the capital. Eddie’s sterling display was brought to the attention of the International selectors who selected him to represent the country on a couple of occasions.
His move into League of Ireland football wasn’t unexpected and he enjoyed several seasons with Hibernians. Eddie’s favourite team has to be Bohs as he was on the score sheet in all three Victories recorded against them.
After League of Ireland football Eddie returned to Rockmount and he ﬁnished out his career in the colours of Hillington and with them deﬁed age by performing into his forties. However, he didn’t hang up his boots as he answered every call to line out regularly in veteran’s charity matches and we are all delighted that he has answered our belated invitation to accept this deserved recognition for his distinguished service to Cork soccer.
Distinguished Service Award Winner
Tom Fitzgerald (Cork AUL) presents a distinguished service award to Jerry Myers at the Cork Soccer Honours Awards held in The Kiln on Friday night. Also in picture is Jim Cashman (Murphy’s Irish Stout).