The Leeside Legends series: Colin Corkery was a giant for club and county

The Leeside Legends series: Colin Corkery was a giant for club and county

Nemo captain Colin Corkery celebrates a late winner against Crossmolina in the dying moments of the 2003 All-Ireland club final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

IN the last century, the list of talented footballers produced in this county is a very impressive one and for Colm Corkery, the former Nemo Rangers star, his Gaelic football skills always stood out.

Colin originated from the Bally-phehane area of Cork and began his football career in 1981 with Nemo Rangers.

He attended Scoil Chríost Rí and Coláiste Chríost Rí where he picked up his first school honours in 1989.

The occasion was the Munster Colleges senior football final against St Brendan’s Killarney.

“St Brendan’s had a superb team that included Seamus Moynihan, but we produced a devastating display that won the game for us and it’s a game that always sticks out in my mind,” said Colin.

The honours continued to flow at Nemo Rangers as they won a minor city and county double the same year.

Colin joined the Nemo senior ranks in 1990 but he had to wait three years to win his first senior county football championship title.

“I suppose it’s every player’s dream in Nemo to win a county medal,” said Colin.

Another secret in the Nemo success over the years has been the competition for places according to Corkery.

“The number of young players that Nemo produced over the years helped keep the elder lemons on their toes.”

Colin will not forget 1994 as Nemo won the All-Ireland club championship on another glorious day for the Cork club.

However, the southside club had to wait until the millennium year for Nemo to win the Cork county senior football championship again.

In the interim, Corkery built up quite a reputation for his free-taking.

A defeat by Crossmolina in the 2001 All-Ireland club final was disappointing, but, true to form, Nemo bounced back in 2002 to win their second consecutive Cork senior football championship.

It was disappointment once again for Nemo that year as they lost their second All-Ireland final to Ballinderry, a defeat that shattered Colin and his teammates.

“To lose one All-Ireland club final was bad enough but when we lost the second it sent shockwaves through the club.

“To be fair we got together and pledged if we came out of Cork and Munster, there would be no way we would lose another final.”

You need special quality to achieve the best in any sport and Nemo had that as they won the Cork senior county football championship for the third time in a row.

The All-Ireland club football final of 2003 will long live in the memories of the Nemo faithful as they at last succeeded in breaking their sequence of defeats in the competition.

Crossmolina of Mayo were once again their opponents but in a truly terrific game of football, the Cork side prevailed.

Looking back, Colin believes the contribution made by coach Billy Morgan was immense. “Billy Morgan’s influence is a major factor in the Nemo success story over the years as it takes a special coach to come back after being beaten in two All Ireland’s and instill belief into the team.

“That is what Billy is all about getting players to believe in themselves and remember he also did it with the Cork Senior football team that speaks volumes of the man.”

Cork’s Colin Corkery goes down under the challenge of Kerry’s Bingo Driscoll.
Cork’s Colin Corkery goes down under the challenge of Kerry’s Bingo Driscoll.

Colin was never fortunate to win a senior All-Ireland football championship winners medal — in 2003 Cork were defeated by Limerick and Roscommon. Luckily in 1989, Colin was part of the Cork U21 football team when he came on a substitute in the All-Ireland final and helped Cork edge out Galway 2-8 to 1-10.

In 1990 Colin decided to go and play with Carlton in Australia but that only lasted a year as he returned to play and made his senior championship debut for Cork in 1993 as he contributed 2-5 against Clare.

The Rebels reached the final against Derry but with Tony Davis receiving a red card, 14-man Cork eventually lost 1-14 to 2-8 as a late Seamus Downey goal gave Derry their first ever All-Ireland title.

In his time playing football, Corkery suffered from an irregular heartbeat that restricted his routine and prevented him from intense training with the result that he gained excess weight at various times of his career.

Thankfully Colin’s attitude saw him through as his kicking skills graced many pitches in Ireland and he will be remembered as a special talent in his beloved city.

Corkery was immense for Cork in 2020. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Corkery was immense for Cork in 2020. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

FACTFILE:

Colin Corkery is the holder of four Cork senior football championships with Nemo Rangers, as well as two All-Ireland club titles, having played with the club for 25 years.

Corkery was on the Coláiste Chríost Rí team that defeated St Brendan’s Killarney in the Corn Uí Mhuirí final of 1989.

He scored 11 points against Kerry in the Munster Senior Football Championship clash of 2002.

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