The Leeside Legends series: Eamonn Young was a Cork football colossus 

The Leeside Legends series: Eamonn Young was a Cork football colossus 

Eamonn Young, right, with Tadgh Crowley, at Cork senior football training at the Mardyke in 1945.

SKILLFUL and courageous, Eamonn Young was arguably one of Cork’s greatest footballers of the 20th century.

Eamonn grew up in Dunmanway and football was like a religion in the West Cork town. The local youngsters were introduced to Gaelic football via the Dohenys club and the annual street leagues.

The leagues were played with all the intensity and determination one would expect in an All-Ireland final.

Eamonn’s father, Jack Young, who was the local schoolmaster, instilled in every child great pride in the tradition of Dohenys.

Indeed, the Young family is synonymous with Dohenys, as Jack won an All-Ireland senior medal with Cork in 1911.

In 1933, Eamonn was on the School Shield team that won the West Cork and county schools titles.

He received his secondary education in the Good Counsel School in New Ross. Good Counsel were the leading school in Leinster colleges football.

Young’s natural skill, ability, and determination were obvious, as he progressed as a player.

Eamonn made his senior debut for Dohenys in 1939, against a Bantry side that included such notable names as Tim Harrington, Tim Cotter, and Danny McCarthy.

Eamonn rose to the challenge and helped Dohenys to a famous win, with the Dunmanway side defeating Beara in the next round, but losing the game following an objection.

At that time, Eamonn played with TJ and Jack Lynch, Bob Meara, Scotty Hayes, Eric Sheehy, Donal and Paddy Foley, Timmy O’Brien, Con Aherne, Eric Bernard, Connie Coughlan, Toby McKenna, and Combo Mahony.

Eamonn continued to play senior football with Dohenys until transferring to the city-based army club, Collins, in 1943, and was at the peak of his football powers during those years.

Eamonn Young, third from left, with the Cork team that played Carlow in a challenge football match at the Cork Athletic Grounds in 1945.
Eamonn Young, third from left, with the Cork team that played Carlow in a challenge football match at the Cork Athletic Grounds in 1945.

During the war years and into the 1950s, the army side were one of the top five clubs in Cork.

The games against Garda, University College Cork, St Nick’s, and Clonakilty drew attendances of 10,000-plus spectators, as Eamonn helped Collins to county titles in 1949, 1951, and 1953.

In 1961, Eamonn returned to play with Dohenys and had a new position at corner-forward and a new role as free-taker.

Although now 40 years of age, he was still playing champagne football and helped Dohenys to clinch the Cork County junior football championship in 1966, before finally hanging up his boots at the age of 45.

Eamonn won his first inter-county football medal with Cork in 1939, when he played on the first Cork minor team to win the Munster crown.

MEDAL:

In 1940, he won another Munster medal, this time with the Cork juniors, and a year later he was introduced to the Cork senior football panel.

Young was on the 1943 team that won the Munster senior championship, with his brother, Jim, also a member of that side.

Eamonn crowned his inter-county career by winning a senior All-Ireland medal in 1945 when Cork defeated Cavan.

He won two more Munster medals, in 1949 and 1952, and also a National Football League medal, in 1952.

Eamonn also participated in Munster’s Railway Cup victories of 1941, 1946, and 1949, as well as many All-Army football championships.

Eamonn was also a skilled hurler, winning All-Ireland minor winning medals in 1938 and ’39 and went on to win a National Hurling League medal with Cork and a county championship with Glen Rovers.

His brother, Jim, was also a leading player with Cork and Glen Rovers hurling teams, but Eamonn decided that the Cork footballers needed his talent more than the hurlers.

Young enjoyed many notable successes, but Doheny’s junior championship win in 1966 gave him the most satisfaction.

Eamonn Young, right, with Donie O’Donovan,in his coaching years.
Eamonn Young, right, with Donie O’Donovan,in his coaching years.

Eamonn was also a very innovative Gaelic football coach, long before the modern-day coaching methods were developed. He was deploying skill training and strategies that helped evolve the game.

Young was a trainer and a selector with Cork teams that won Munster titles in 1956, 1957, 1966, and 1967.

The only regret for Young was that Cork failed to win an All-Ireland under his charge.

In truth, the name of Eamonn Young will always be a part of Dohenys and Cork football history.

FACTFILE:

  • Eamonn Young began his career with Dohenys, in Dunmanway, where he played football until 1943.
  • Young transferred to Collins, the Cork army club, in 1943, and helped them win the 1949, 1951, and 1953 Cork senior football championships.
  • He won All-Ireland minor hurling medals in 1938 and 1939.
  • He retired from football in 1966, after helping Dohenys win the Cork junior football championship.
  • Young won Railway Cup medals in 1941, 1946, and 1949.
  • He wrote a column for the Evening Echo in Cork for many years, under the byline ‘Rambler’.
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