Late Waterford great Johnny Matthews broke the heart of Cork soccer teams

Late Waterford great Johnny Matthews broke the heart of Cork soccer teams
Waterford team that won the league in 1972. Back: Peter Bryan, Vinny Maguire, Peter Thomas, Paul Morrissey, Tony Cottee, Jackie Morley. Front: Carl Humphreys, Dave Kirby, Alfie Hale, Johnny Matthews, John O'Neill, Jimmy McGeough.

ONE of the greatest League of Ireland players of all time.

That was how Cork sports historian Plunkett Carter described Johnny Matthews from Waterford who passed away this week.

The older generation of Cork soccer fans have reason to remember the player who was signed from Coventry City at a time when Jimmy Hill was their manager back in 1966.

At a time when Cork fans had the luxury of being able to support two very successful teams, Cork Hibernians and Cork Celtic, Matthews was often their tormentor-in-chief with his wizardry on the wing and he went on to win six League of Ireland medals with the Blues.

One of his finest hours was that never to be forgotten Sunday in Flower Lodge when Waterford came from 2-0 in arrears to defeat Hibs 3-2 to clinch the league title.

Matthews starred that day in front of over 26,000 people as Hibs fans left the stadium in shock at Waterford’s comeback from the dead.

However, a week later the two sides collided again in the FAI Cup final at Dalymount Park and this time the result was very different, Hibs winning on a 3-0 scoreline with the great Miah Dennehy securing all three goals.

“Matthews was probably one of the best players I ever saw play League of Ireland football," Carter told the Echo.

“He had fantastic pace and the skill to go with it and he left many a fine full-back trailing in his wake.

“Hibs and Waterford had a fierce rivalry in those days, Celtic were a very good side too and Johnny Matthews will be remembered by the huge home fan base that travelled the country back then.

“He also had the distinction of scoring for the League of Ireland against the English League when the legendary Gordon Banks was the goalkeeper for the latter.

“He had a brief spell too here on Leeside, lining out with Cork United who had former many former Hibs players in their ranks after their tenure in the league had ended.

“His passing removes another wonderful player from a great era in Irish domestic football and even though he often broke Cork hearts we should remember him fondly."

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