The Leeside legends series: Fans were thrilled by Miah Dennehy's magic 

The Leeside legends series: Fans were thrilled by Miah Dennehy's magic 

Cork Hibernians hero Miah Dennehy is carried from the field, shoulder high, by Hibs supporters after the team won the League of Ireland play-off decider against Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park, Dublin. Also in the picture is Hibs’ battle scarred centre-forward Tony Marsden. 

ONE of the biggest names in Cork soccer in the seventies was Miah Dennehy — the former Cork Hibernians star whose scoring skills made him a household name nationally.

Dennehy was born in 1950 and it was his talent on the GAA pitch with St Vincent’s hurling and football club that got him noticed initially.

A ban of that time by the GAA restricted Dennehy to playing the odd game of soccer with his uncle’s club, Northvilla on the Northside of Cork.

Word about Miah’s talent had spread and through the late Paddy Long he was introduced to the then manager of Cork Hibs, Amby Fogarty.

Fogarty invited Dennehy to the Mardyke to play for Hibs against UCC in the 1968 Munster Senior Cup and the rest is history as Miah scored four goals in their 5-4 win.

Dave Bacuzzi, who took over the reins of Hibs from Fogarty, quickly identified Dennehy’s immense talent and made him one of the cornerstones of his team.

At the time Dennehy was being paid five pounds a week — a paltry amount when you consider what some of the top players are presently earning. Hibs, under the management of Bacuzzi, became the giants of Irish football and with talented players like Sonny Sweeney, John Lawson and the late Dave Wigginton to name a few, Cork Hibs won the League of Ireland championship in 1971.

In 1972 Miah became the hero of Cork when he scored a hat-trick in Hibs’ epic FAI Cup win over Waterford, as he recalled on that very special day.

Miah Dennehy scores one of his three goals as Waterford goalkeeper Peter Thomas can only look on.
Miah Dennehy scores one of his three goals as Waterford goalkeeper Peter Thomas can only look on.

They remember the Cup final as ‘Miah’s day'.

A dour game to its dynamic first act, but it was Dennehy who lit it up when he pounced on a ball from Dave Bacuzzi sprinted into the penalty area before beating Peter Thomas with a fierce drive at his near post.

Five minutes later he added a second and then fashioned history by claiming his third seven minutes from the end. Nearly 50 years on it isn’t the goals that remain foremost in his mind but being chaired from the field and the songs in the dressing room after that memorable game.

“It was certainly the greatest day of my life and after the game I realised what this success meant to the people of Cork,” said Miah.

The cross-channel scouts were out in force to secure the signature of Dennehy and it was Dave Mackay who brought Miah to the City Grounds.

Dennehy had a good spell under Mackay but the arrival of Brian Clough as manager of Forest was to see the end of his playing career with Forest.

“For some reason Brian Clough didn’t like me and I never got the chance to fulfill my true potential with him.”

Cork Hibernians players Frank Connolly, Joe O'Grady, Miah Dennehy and John Lawson celebrate after they won the League of Ireland play-off decider.
Cork Hibernians players Frank Connolly, Joe O'Grady, Miah Dennehy and John Lawson celebrate after they won the League of Ireland play-off decider.

From Nottingham Forest to Walsall for another period and after that Miah completed his cross-channel career with Bristol Rovers.

During his career Miah got 13 full Irish senior caps, three amateur caps and one U23 cap. Dennehy really showed his true class for Ireland against Poland in 1973 when he scored the only goal of the game as the Poles had knocked England out of the game the previous week.

That goal made him a folklore hero with the Irish fans but it was the local derby games between Cork Hibs and Cork Celtic were always special.

Dennehy added: “The games were always fun but ironically players from both teams always mixed well with each other.”

Years after being released by Forest Miah met up with Brian Clough at a squash club where he used to work out.

In typical Clough fashion after watching Miah play a game he remarked: “If I knew you could play squash so well I would have never sold you.”

Amazingly Miah played football with Mayfield side Village United up to the age of 51 in the Cork AUL.

Ex Cork Hibs players (front) Declan O'Mahony, Dinny Allen, Miah Dennehy and (rear) John Lawson, Frankie Connolly, Joe O'Grady, John Brohan and ex Cork Celtic player Charlie McCarthy. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ex Cork Hibs players (front) Declan O'Mahony, Dinny Allen, Miah Dennehy and (rear) John Lawson, Frankie Connolly, Joe O'Grady, John Brohan and ex Cork Celtic player Charlie McCarthy. Picture: Larry Cummins

Dennehy will always hold the Cork sporting football public near to his heart as he believes they are the greatest in the world.

“When you are successful in any sport in Cork the people show you so much respect and I will never forget the respect that was shown to me over the years.”

Miah began with a salary of two pounds per week and in 1979 his take home pay was 175 pounds with Bristol Rovers.

Miah Dennehy will always be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the game of soccer.

Alex Ludzic, Liam Brady and Miah Dennehy pictured at the Cork City v Cobh Ramblers Alex Ludzic Testimonial in 1990. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.
Alex Ludzic, Liam Brady and Miah Dennehy pictured at the Cork City v Cobh Ramblers Alex Ludzic Testimonial in 1990. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.

FACTFILE: 

Miah Dennehy scored a hat-trick in the FAI Senior Cup final against Waterford in 1972.

Dennehy won 13 full international caps as well as three amateur caps and one U23 cap.

He retired from soccer in 2001 at the age of 51 as his last game was with Village United in Mayfield.

Dennehy scored four goals on his debut for Cork Hibs in a Munster Senior Cup game against UCC in 1968.

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