IT may still be 2019 for another number of days but the 30th anniversary celebrations for the Cork All Ireland double winners have already begun.
The 1990 season will never be forgotten on Leeside. On a glorious day in September of that year, Cork GAA created history.
Just a couple of weeks after the hurlers lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup thanks to an impressive win against Galway, the footballers followed suit by narrowly defeating Meath in a tight and tense affair to claim the Sam Maguire.
In doing so, the class of 1990 joined the great Cork teams of 1890 and the Tipperary sides of 1895 and 1900, in winning the Double. But this was the first time the feat was achieved in the more arduous modern era.
“It was a marvellous and unique occasion and it will probably never be repeated again so it was great to be a part of it,” said the legendary Billy Morgan, who was in charge of the footballers at the time.
Morgan was speaking to the Echo at the launch of the 1990 Cork GAA Double All-Ireland team commemorative shirts at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at the beginning of December.
Suits Distributors in Ballycurreen were behind the idea as they wanted to mark the 30-year anniversary of those triumphs while raising money for local clubs and charities in the meantime.
Five euro from each shirt sale will be going to the underage club of the customers choosing while another five euro is set to go to Cork Penny Dinners to ensure they can continue to do their good work.
“It really is a very, very good cause. The work that penny dinners are doing is fantastic and if we can help in anyway small way we are only happy to do so,” added Morgan.
The launch itself saw a number of the key members from those All-Ireland winning teams reunite to show their support for this initiative.
Legendary figures such as Tomás Mulcahy, who was the captain of the hurlers, Larry Tompkins, who was the captain of the footballers and Teddy McCarthy, who of course played his part in both finals, joined Morgan to reminisce about the glory days.
“It’s hard to believe it (winning the double) was so long ago — 29 nearly 30 years — because it is still so fresh in the memory,” added the former goalkeeper who won the All-Ireland in 1973.
“I still have vivid memories of it, I remember the run-up to it, the game itself and then the afters you know as I said it was fantastic and it will probably never be repeated again.
“It is unique, I know it had been done by Cork 100 years previously but to do it recently in this kind of modern era was really something special.
“It probably will never happen again although you just never know.” Unfortunately, the predicament the current footballers find themselves in at the moment couldn’t be more contrasting.
While the 1990 footballers, under the tutelage of Morgan, won their fourth Munster title on the bounce before claiming their second consecutive All Ireland — the first time ever Cork retained the cup – the 2020 crop face a battle to even qualify for the competition.
Having suffered relegation at the beginning of the year, Cork will start the new season in division three and they know that if they fail to earn promotion they will need to win the Munster title to reach the All-Ireland stage.
The Rebels will need to finish ahead of the likes of Derry, Down and Tipperary in order to return to the second division and Morgan believes it won’t be as easy as many would believe.
“I would hope that they will win the third division, try and put out their best team every time and then come out of it with a winning mentality,” Morgan stated.
“They will have momentum going into the championship then and they will have qualified for the All-Ireland series then as well.
“Hopefully they will do well in the third division but it won’t be as easy as people think because there are some very difficult trips that they will have to go on but hopefully, they do and I’m sure they will.”
But despite that relegation, Cork enjoyed a productive end to the year as they produced a strong showing in the Super 8s while the U20s and the minors recovered to secure their respective All-Ireland titles.
And that is why Morgan remains confident that there will be good times to come for Cork football.
“I’m sure 2020 will be better (than 2019), I would be very, very confident of that,” he enthused.
“I would be reasonably hopeful. After a bad start to the year with being relegated to the third division, the U20s didn’t have a manager.
“The minors were hammered in their first-round game by Kerry but they came back to win an All-Ireland and the U20s came back to win an All-Ireland as well.
“And then the seniors finished reasonably strong as well so I would be optimistic about the future.
“But I just hope that the young players aren’t rushed and people will be patient with them and I am sure they will so I am optimistic about the future.
“The seniors seemed to change their style of play during the year, it was more positive and it paid dividends so hopefully, they will kick on from there.”