The Leeside Legends series: Blackrock's Eudie Coughlan was one of the first iconic Rebel hurlers

The Leeside Legends series: Blackrock's Eudie Coughlan was one of the first iconic Rebel hurlers

Lory Meagher, Kilkenny and Eudie Coughlan, Cork shake hands before the 1931 All- Ireland Hurling funal. 

BLACKROCK hurling club has produced many superb hurling stars since its foundation, but one name that will always be synonymous with the Rockies and Cork is Eudie Coughlan.

As a young boy he swung his first hurley on a grassy pitch at the ‘Pound’ here many threatened disruption to the tram service.

During that period Eudie would row his father’s boat from Blackrock to Belvelly Bridge near Cobh as they would pick the mussels on the strand and then row all the way back to the ‘Pound’.

They would throw the mussels on the bank and weigh them, four buckets to a bag and then make their way up the two miles to the city quays from where the mussels would be dispatched to Sir George Petrie in Liverpool.

Eudie played his first senior game for Blackrock in 1918 against Kinsale and the class he showed in those early days caught the eye of the Cork selectors.

The Blackrock star won his first Senior All-Ireland medal as a sub with Cork in 1919 and it was the Rebels first All-Ireland in 16 years and the first time they wore the now famous red and white jerseys although the subs had to be content with white jerseys.

Seven years later Eudie Coughlan was one of 10 Blackrock men on the Cork team which won the 1926 All-Ireland title when defeating Dublin in the final.

In that season Cork were captained by Sean Og Murphy and trained by Packie O’Mahony.

After winning two more Senior All-Ireland winners medals in 1928 and 29’ Eudie proved to be the master again in the 1931 final where it took three games to decide the eventual winner.

Cork’s opponents Kilkenny looked to be on their way to victory in the first game when they led by a point in the closing seconds but right at the death Coughlan scored a brilliant point that forced the game to a replay.

Eudie was actually on his knees when he struck over the equalising point a score that was talked about for many years after that memorable game.

The second game was the best of the three and in hurling circles it is rated the best hurling All-Ireland finals in the history of the sport.

After that hectic encounter the third game was anti-climax with Cork having a comfortable 5-8 to 3-4 win.

That win was a dream come true for Eudie as he was captain of the victorious team and with great pride, he accepted the All-Ireland trophy form the Bishop of Hobart on that cold November evening in 1931.

The 1931 finals were still fresh in minds of the hurling supporters when the news of Eudie Coughlan’s retirement hit the national newspapers as many of the Cork faithful couldn’t believe he had called it a day so soon in his career.

Aged 31 and recognized as one of the finest hurlers in the country how could Eudie with so much skill decide he hang up his boots.

Goalmouth action from Blackrock v Glen Rovers in the Cork County senior hurling championship final at the Cork Athletic Grounds. Included is Eudie Coughlan. 
Goalmouth action from Blackrock v Glen Rovers in the Cork County senior hurling championship final at the Cork Athletic Grounds. Included is Eudie Coughlan. 

It was later revealed by Eudie that the County Board had taken the selection of the Cork team away from Blackrock and the decision incensed Coughlan after the success of the team and that made him walk away from the game.

On the other side of the coin many pundits felt there was more to Eudie’s retirement than the County Board decision.

He once told a close friend: “You know it used to take me a fortnight to get over a game and feel normal again.

“I know it was a great honour to represent your club and county but I sometimes wonder was it worth all that pain.”

Perhaps those sentiments suggested that it could have been behind Eudie’s decision to call it a day.

Perhaps he felt a decade in the red jersey was enough as he had given the best any player could dream of giving and he was retiring before his admirers could detect a decline in his brilliance.

He left behind memories of a truly great player with 1931 not only the conclusion career of Eudie Coughlan but also the end of the golden era in Cork hurling.

It all begun in 1926 with the first National League title, continuing with the All-Ireland the same year, the Munster championship in 1927, two more All-Ireland’s in 1928 and ’29, the league again in 1930 and a fifth All-Ireland in 1931.

Eudie was one of the best!

FACTFILE: 

Eudie Coughlan was born in 1900 and won his first senior All-Ireland medal in 1919 when he was a substitute in the final.

He won a total of five senior All-Ireland medals and captained Cork to the 1931 title after two replays against Kilkenny.

Eudie retired from the game in 1931 at the age of 31, ending a glittering career.

Eudie passed away on January 4, 1987 at the age of 86.

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