Liam McCarthy has been a master of all trades in the soccer world

Liam McCarthy has been a master of all trades in the soccer world
Distinguished Service Award winner Liam McCarthy and family; Lisa, Noreen, Gillian and Karen. Picture: Larry Cummins.

EVERY sport lover will tell you that they know a person who eats, sleeps, and drinks a game which they love or are even addicted to.

A guy who would be immediately identifiable here in Cork to observers from grassroots to senior level shares a name with an object that is craved on Leeside.

Of course we are talking about Liam McCarthy the soccer fanatic not the four handled silver icon.

Liam began playing soccer when he was 10 and moved up through all the grades from schoolboy to senior league.

Players, coaches, referees, administrators, and volunteers have all been honoured for distinguished service to Cork soccer; remarkably Liam gained recognition in all those different roles and many were performed at the same time.

He was a jack of all trades and it’s small wonder he managed to make time for his profession as a painting contractor.

During his playing career he was never one to shoot for the stars and was happy to improve his skills in leaner times with Morton, Dunbar, Everton, Glasheen, Shearsville, and Ringmahon Rangers before settling with Kilreen Celtic where his brothers were regulars.

Technically he was excellent and a major asset to the teams fortunate enough to avail of his services.

After years of trying he eventually got his hands on silverware, in 1979. He was described then on the Evening Echo as the veteran pivot who inspired Kilreen to 1-0 victory in the league decider against Farnanes.

It’s worth noting here that in the week prior to the final, Farnanes’ Scottish striker Brian Taylor had scored seven on Wednesday and four in a cup final the following Sunday, but clever Liam, with a little help from Christy O’Keeffe, had him in a vice-like grip for the 90 minutes.

The Cork Branch of the Amateur Referees Association was founded in 1972 and Liam answered the call for members a few years later.

He was soon established as one of the most popular members of the fledgling group and officiated mainly in the schoolboys league either before or after playing in the AUL or MSL on the same day.

If his diary wasn’t already full enough, he joined the Cork Schoolboys League committee.

His career took another surprising twist when, tiring of sitting around the boardroom table, he left for UCC to major in football coaching.

Kieran Dowd, Sports Administrator in UCC, reflecting on Liam’s time with the skull and cross-bones outfit said: “Liam’s very friendly manner endeared him to everyone involved in football.

“Very modest, he was always someone you could share your thoughts with.”

Kieran, who was at the helm when UCC lost consecutive Collingwood Cup finals against Galway and UCD in 1984 and 85, handed over the baton to Liam in 1986 and “Macker’s” boys, against all the odds, dethroned the holders, League of Ireland side UCD, in Belfast.

Liam, who has a great love for student sport, has always been involved in the administration of the game whether with UCC or the Irish Universities in his role as registrar.

He has always been involved in the organising of the collegiate competitions — the Collingwood, Harding, and Crowley Cups — and has served as selector and manager of the Irish Universities international squads.

Liam spent seven years on the management team of the Munster Football Association and was a unanimous choice when the provincial body sought a manager for the Munster Youths squad.

He retained the position for seven seasons and a large percentage of the teens who played under him in those provincial championships graduated to play in the League of Ireland afterwards.

Liam is still infected by the soccer bug and can be seen regularly around UCC Farm and in Turner’s Cross on Fridays to support Cork City.

Long after the floodlights go out, when spectators have reached home to put their feet up or are sitting on high stools in their favourite pubs, Liam a much respected volunteer would, more than likely, be still at the Cross scrubbing the dressing rooms.

People like him cannot be forgotten and he is a deserving addition to those honoured for Distinguished Service to Cork Soccer.

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