Corkers... Leeside clubs have clashed in four cracking FAI Intermediate Cup finals

Corkers... Leeside clubs have clashed in four cracking FAI Intermediate Cup finals
Douglas Hall's Brian Wilkinson sees his header touched on to the crossbar by Rockmount's Derek Slattery during the first half of the last all-Cork Intermediate Cup final at Turner's Cross in 2008. Picture: Finbarr Buckley

IN the long history of the FAI Intermediate Cup competition dating back to 1927, Cork teams have enjoyed their share of success.

The Rebel County has provided 10 different winners and has seen a representative from Leeside contest 58 of the 90 finals to date.

Before the cessation of football in mid March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Munster Senior League leaders Ringmahon Rangers had made it through to the last four following a nail-biting win over fellow Munster Senior League opponents College Corinthians to meet Killester Donnycarney in the semi-final. 

The Mahon outfit looked well placed to reach their first final which was due to be played this month and become incredibly the 11th Cork club to lift the coveted trophy.

Interestingly, unlike its senior counterpart, the FAI Cup, which has only thrown up one all-Cork final, the 1953 decider between Cork Athletic and Evergreen United which Athletic won 2-1 in a replay, the Intermediate Cup has brought together four memorable finals featuring Cork teams.

On Sunday, March 16 1980, MSL leaders Cobh Ramblers met holders Tramore Athletic in the first all-Corkonian decider at St Colman’s Park. The Ramblers had been beaten in their previous five final appearances and were in no mood to lose out again on home soil. 

Cobh went into a 2-0 lead courtesy of Michael O’Leary who became the first player to score twice for two different teams at the same venue, having registered a brace in Avondale United’s first trophy success against AIB in 1977/78.

Although Niall O’Keeffe pulled one back for Tramore in the 51st minute, the hosts hung on to win their first major honour in 53 years. 

The final provided another first for match officials John Spillane and his assistants Sean Ware and Tom Bradley who all hailed from Mallow and had been involved with the town soccer club, Mallow United.

COBH RAMBLERS: O’Sullivan: O’Donoghue, Wilshaw; O’Halloran, Mellerick; Stack, McCarthy, O’Neill; O’Leary, O’Flynn, McDaid.

TRAMORE ATHLETIC: Noonan: Swayne, O’Keeffe; Hartigan, O’Donovan; O’Connell, Walsh, P. McCarthy; D McCarthy, F McCarthy, B McSweeney.

Referee: John Spillane. Assistants: Sean Ware and Tom Bradley.

Six years later, on Sunday, April 20, 1986, another Leesider would write himself into the record books by becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in the blue ribbon contest at Turner’s Cross.

The then Evening Echo’s headline, ‘ Cotter’s Day of Glory’ referred to Sean Cotter’s first-half hat-trick for Crofton Celtic in his team’s 3-0 win over near neighbours Everton.

After Laurence Neville turned a Christy White free-kick across the face of the goal, Cotter, in his first season since transferring from Greenmount Rangers, turned in the opener after Everton keeper Christy Dooley could only parry.

Cotter added his second on 12 minutes with a classic diving header from Neville’s cross before sealing the tie with his third in the 40th minute, volleying in sub Tony Sheehan’s downward header. 

Crofton Celtic's Sean Cotter, centre, who became the first player to score a hat-trick in an FAI Intermediate Cup final, with the late Bill O'Herlihy and his wife Geraldine. Picture: Finbarr Buckley
Crofton Celtic's Sean Cotter, centre, who became the first player to score a hat-trick in an FAI Intermediate Cup final, with the late Bill O'Herlihy and his wife Geraldine. Picture: Finbarr Buckley

Plunket Carter in his excellent publication, Evening Echo - Century of Cork Soccer Memories, made reference to the proximity of the two clubs by pointing out that both teams were sponsored by pubs within a stones throw of each other.

CROFTON CELTIC: Hogan: Murphy, McCarthy; White O’Brien; Neville (Sheehan), Howe, Cotter; Cuthbert, Jones, Mullins (Harrington, c).

EVERTON: Dooley: Keane, Walsh; O’Sullivan, O’Callaghan; Twomey, Noonan (c), O’Malley (J Keane); O’Regan, Browne (Mulcahy), Cronin.

Referee: Seamus O’Donoghue. Assistants : Denis Murphy and Michael O’Farrell.

Twenty years would pass before two Cork sides would again lock horns at the Cross, this time John Caulfield’s Avondale United and Brian Murray’s Blarney United made it through to the final on Sunday, May 14, 2006.

Kenmare-born Eoin O’Driscoll struck the only goal of an entertaining tie on the hour to land the Dales their second title. 

Blarney’s luck ran out in after Jeremy O’Sullivan, Stephen Jennings and Dermot Crowley all hit the woodwork at various stages prompting Murray to comment afterwards, ‘You’ll never complain about them getting the winning goal, but we had so many chances, one of them must go in!’

AVONDALE UNITED: O’Keeffe: Hughes, Costine; Hartigan, Ward; Kiernan (Knowles), Giltenan (c), Bruton (Cotter); O’Driscoll, O’Sullivan, Spratt, (O’Connell).

BLARNEY UNITED: Collins: Jennings, Hayes; Fitton, J. Hogan; Crowley, Moynihan (Goggin), O’Leary (c); McCann (O’Riordan), Corkery (Healy), O’Sullivan.

Referee: Finbarr Murphy. Assistants: Larry Buckley and Ken Hennessy. Fourth Official: Damien O’Mahony.

Two years later, in 2007/08, it was the turn the twice winners and four time finalists Rockmount to face debutants Douglas Hall, again at Turner’s Cross.

On a baking hot day, Billy Cronin’s charges put the tie to bed with two goals inside a three-minute spell before half-time. 

Captain Pat Keane, brother of Roy, crossed for Ross O’Callaghan to open the scoring before Rory Beechinor found space to get in a cross for Keane to strike a half volley past Adrian O’Donovan.

Earlier, Brian Wilkinson’s header was touched onto the crossbar by Derek Slattery and Kevin Mulcahy had his shot saved by the net minder.

ROCKMOUNT: Slattery: O’Leary, Busteed; Byrne Oldham; Hoey, Doyle (Michael Deasy), Keane (c); R Deasy (Cummins), Beechinor (Yelverton), O’Callaghan.

DOUGLAS HALL: A.O’Donovan: Hackett, McSorley (K Stanton); Wilkinson (c), Brohan; Cullinane, Mulcahy, Moore, Long (Clarke); O’Connell (R Stanton), R O’Donovan.

Referee: John Lyne, assistants: Gene Stephens, Pat Buckley, fourth official: Aidan O’Regan.

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