Throwback Thursday: Cork Examiner soccer team landed the treble

There was no stopping the side in the Business League 30 years ago
Throwback Thursday: Cork Examiner soccer team landed the treble

Members of the Cork Examiner's successful treble-winning team of 1990/91 pictured at the 25th-anniversary function at the Kiln in 2016. Picture: Finbarr Buckley

THE Cork Examiner’s team of 1990/91 began the 1990s as the best team around going on to equal the achievements of the great Postal Workers squad of the '80s in winning the acclaimed treble of league, cup and shield.

Built on a rock-solid defence and a dependable goalkeeper in Denis McCarthy, the midfield possessed a powerhouse in Dave Higgins who complimented the silken skill of Paul Howley with a constant goal threat coming from Don Bevan and wingers Sean Murphy and Noel O’Sullivan.

Founded in 1949, Examiner reached four cup finals in the eighties, winning two and losing two. But, by the start of the ’90s there was a renewed determination about the club as management duo of Dave Ahern and John Merritt, under the watchful eyes of the experienced backroom staff of Frank Linehan and Jim Kelleher, set about putting in place key players who would complete the jigsaw and transform the team into championship material.

Cork Examiner, the treble winners in 1990/91. Back: Sean Murphy, John Merritt (committee), Denis McCarthy, Michael O'Mahony, Dave Higgins, Mark Woods, Kieran Falvey, Jim Nodwell, Bill Meehan, Don Bevan, Jim Kelleher (committee); front: Frank Linehan (committee), Jim Courtney, Paul Howley, Peter O'Callaghan (captain), Noel O'Sullivan, Frank Drummond, Dave Ahern (manager, RIP) and Pat O'Callaghan (committee). Picture: Tony Noonan
Cork Examiner, the treble winners in 1990/91. Back: Sean Murphy, John Merritt (committee), Denis McCarthy, Michael O'Mahony, Dave Higgins, Mark Woods, Kieran Falvey, Jim Nodwell, Bill Meehan, Don Bevan, Jim Kelleher (committee); front: Frank Linehan (committee), Jim Courtney, Paul Howley, Peter O'Callaghan (captain), Noel O'Sullivan, Frank Drummond, Dave Ahern (manager, RIP) and Pat O'Callaghan (committee). Picture: Tony Noonan

The season kicked off on September 9, 1990 with a 6-0 win in the shield over GSI and following a draw with AIB and wins over Aer Lingus, Co Council and Youghal Yarns in the semi-final, the club’s big test awaited in the final against the star-studded Postal Workers at Pfizer Park on Sunday, December 2.

Despite scoring twice through Andy Maher and John McGrath, Postal couldn’t prevent the first trophy of the season going to Academy Street, as a brace by Bevan along with goals by Peter O’Callaghan and O’Sullivan sealed a memorable success.

The league campaign began on November 11th with a high scoring 5-3 home win over Irish Steel before the visit of in-form Roches Stores to Midleton a week later produced another goal feast, the opposition inflicting Examiner’s first defeat in domestic competition by the odd goal in nine.

The shield win quickly re-focused the team for the visit of champions CIE Athletic with Sean Murphy again in sparkling form with two goals to Brian Gleason’s one.

The New Year began with a tricky assignment away to Aer Lingus, but strikes from Murphy and Bevan settled the nerves.

Jim Nodwell and Bevan were on target in the all-important win over second-placed Postal Workers at Midleton on February 3, and three weeks later the gap at the top was cut to two points with a hard-earned two-nil win over Bank of Ireland at Pfizer Park, the consistent Bevan and Murphy among the goals again.

CRUCIAL:

A crucial point was garnered out of the visit to Newcastle on St Patrick’s Day, where CIE Athletic could only muster a 3-3 draw, a result which virtually ended their championship aspirations. Postal gained revenge for the two previous defeats to win 3-2 at Midleton on April 21, but consecutive wins over Bank of Ireland (5-1), Pfizers (2-0) and one-time leaders Youghal Yarns (2-0) put the club firmly in control with further wins over Roches Stores (5-0), Irish Steel (7-0) and finally Garda (4-0), wrapping up the title at the Regional Park in splendid style.

The assault on the AIB sponsored Mooney Cup began with a comfortable 5-1 over Penn Chemicals at Midleton on January 27th.

Apple Computers were beaten by the same score in round two while the match of the quarter-finals was the 3-3 draw with second division Centra at Killeady.

There was much relief in the Academy Street workplace with the narrow 1-0 replay win a week later.

OLH United were no match in the semi-final despite bringing the best out of Denis McCarthy in the first 15 minutes, as goals by Bevan (2), Murphy and O’Callaghan to Brian Henry’s 25th minute screamer for Our Lady’s, put Examiner back in the final for the fifth time in ten years.

The final itself on May 5 at Turner’s Cross against Roches Stores was comfortably won three-nil with the second and third goal coming in the last 15 minutes.

An iconic moment in the 83rd minute will be forever remembered as Man-of-the-Match Jim Nodwell came out of defence to receive Michael O’Mahony’s pass and lob the ball over the head of the outstanding Liam O’Callaghan, the moment the realization of a remarkable treble was finally realised.

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