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Charlie McCarthy was one of the most lethal goalscorers the Cork hurlers ever had. 
Charlie McCarthy was one of the most lethal goalscorers the Cork hurlers ever had. 
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

The Leeside legends series: Charlie McCarthy was a gentleman off the field but a deadly finisher on it

The hurling skills of Charlie McCarthy during the ’60s and ’70s were widely recognised and it was evident from a young age he was destined to play at the top level for his county.

McCarthy was born in 1946 and his determination to succeed was seen from a young age when he just loved to have a camán in his hands.

Charlie joined his beloved St Finbarr’s as a young lad but he had to wait until 1963 for his first taste of success when he helped his club win the Cork County Minor football championship.

Cork and Barrs stalwarts Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Charlie McCarthy. Picture: Richard Mills.
Cork and Barrs stalwarts Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Charlie McCarthy. Picture: Richard Mills.

The following year Cork won his first All-Ireland medal with Cork when they won the Minor hurling title and this was to be the beginning of the McCarthy fairytale in the sport.

St Finbarr’s won the 1965 Cork Senior hurling championship and further successes in 1968, ’74, ’77,’80, and 1981 brought Charlie’s Senior hurling championship medal haul to six.

In 1966 McCarthy won his first Senior All-Ireland medal which was followed four years later by his second medal.

Recalling the inclusion into the 1966 team McCarthy recalled his call-up.

Call...

“We were due to play Clare in the quarter final of the Munster championship but I wasn’t in the squad and after a night out with my girlfriend Pauline (now my wife) I arrived home to be told by my mother that I was to be in Cook Street at 10am on Sunday morning as she got a call from selector Tony O’Shaughnessy and I don’t think that would happen in today’s scene.”

Charlie was one of the rocks that Cork’s famous treble was built on and his skills when games hung in the balance helped the Rebels over the line.

Cork romped to victory in 1976 and after winning the title again in 1977, fate dictated that McCarthy would be the man that would lift the Liam McCarthy in 1978.

That proved to be the highlight of McCarthy’s career as the September 1978 is a day he will never forget.

 Rival captains Ger Henderson, Kilkenny, and Charlie McCarthy shake hands, watched by referee Jimmy Rankins, at Croke Park on September 3, 1978. 

Rival captains Ger Henderson, Kilkenny, and Charlie McCarthy shake hands, watched by referee Jimmy Rankins, at Croke Park on September 3, 1978. 

“It was always an honour to win an All-Ireland but for me to captain the team in 1978 to the magical treble is something I will never forget,” said Charlie.

McCarthy bowed out of Inter-county hurling in 1980 and after playing for 15 years at the top level he recalled the talented players who played in the era.

“I was proud to grace the field with some outstanding hurlers and to me each and every player that I played with had their own special qualities,” said McCarthy.

According to McCarthy when you had to pit your wits and skills against Jim Treacy of Kilkenny and John Glennon of Tipperary you would certainly know you had been involved in a game of hurling.

“The present-day hurlers at the top level are very committed but I do feel first time hurling is going out of the game with the present-day player always looking for the loose man.”

Losing games is something that Charlie never found easy to accept but in his own words he always trained harder the following week after defeat.

For many years Charlie had the luxury of watching his son Cathal don the blue jersey of the Barrs at Senior level but nowadays it is all about getting to as many games to support his beloved club.

“In my time I got a lot from the club and was always proud to give something back by helping the up and coming players.”

Charlie paid tribute to Miah Lynch the former Barrs man of the ’40s for giving him great coaching and advice over the years.

When you speak to the majority of genuine and trusted GAA people and the name of Charlie McCarthy pops up in conversation the word gentleman is always associated with the great man.

The McCarthy family consisting of wife Pauline and three children Donna, Carol-Ann, and Cathal are all very proud of their father’s achievements.

Many great hurlers have been proud to wear the famous red and white jersey of Cork but Charlie McCarthy is right up there amongst the greatest of them.

He was a deadly finisher and an opportunist par excellence.

The Cork Hurling teams that won three All-Irelands in a row was captained by Charlie McCarthy, 1978, Ray Cummins, 1976, and Martin O'Doherty, 1977. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
The Cork Hurling teams that won three All-Irelands in a row was captained by Charlie McCarthy, 1978, Ray Cummins, 1976, and Martin O'Doherty, 1977. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

FACTFILE: 

Charlie McCarthy won his first All-Ireland with Cork in 1964 when the Rebels won the minor hurling title.

The Barrs man is the holder of six Cork Senior county championship medals.

Charlie captained Cork in 1978 to win the All-Ireland hurling championship as their impressive wins in 1976 and 1977 completed a magnificent three in a row.

McCarthy has a total of five senior All-Ireland medals and hurled until 1980 for Cork, after playing at the top level for 15 years.