Highs and lows for Casement Celtic as we document the club's first 50 years

Established in 1970, the southside outfit have endured and are confident about the coming seasons
Highs and lows for Casement Celtic as we document the club's first 50 years

Casement Celtic celebrate following their 2-0 win over Passage in the Kevin Barry Cup final at Turner's Cross in 2013. Picture: Howard Crowdy

FOR the past 50 years Casement Celtic have played a massive role in Cork soccer. 

It’s a milestone for any club to be in its 50th year and huge credit must go to so many people for keeping the club going over the years. However, a special mention to Mr Casement himself James Wilson, a founding member and current vice-chairman.

Wilson, along with Denis Kelly, Donal Geary, Pat O’Connor, George Scannell and Paddy Power, were the architects behind the birth of the club. In fact, Kelly had the honour of being a founding member of three clubs in the parish, Casement, Kilreen and Ballyphehane United.

The current committee is: Pat Flanagan (president); Eddie Haines (chairman); James Wilson (vice-chairman); Leona Mulcahy (secretary); Pat Mulcahy (treasurer); Ross Haines; Jim Haines; Michael Daly (committee).

Since its foundation in 1970 the club has been competing at various levels of soccer in Cork, winning trophies, developing Cork, Munster and Irish players as well as turning young boys into well-rounded young men.

Celebrating 50 years in football is a long time and thus it will be difficult to condense all the great moments of the club here. Treasurer and former international Pat Mulcahy is thrilled to be part of such a milestone.

“It’s a huge achievement for a club to still be actively involved for 50 years. 

Even more remarkable that one of the founding members and current vice-chairman is still actively involved 50 years’ later. 

"It can become an enormous struggle to keep a club afloat. This is to the eternal credit of past committee members and the managers on the sidelines and parents down through the years that this has not happened,” said Mulcahy.

Such was the demand for schoolboy soccer in Ballyphehane in 1970 that, when Casement Celtic were formed that year, they had to enter three U13 teams to cater for the huge demand.

A splendid U13 cup triumph in their first year of football generated an optimistic view. After two years in existence Casement covered themselves in glory in the most prestigious of all schoolboy trophies, the Evans Cup campaign. Some scintillating performances catapulted the Ballyphehane side to national prominence.

They had a superb 5-1 victory over fancied Crofton Celtic in the Noel Cantwell Cork final, and the national semi-final was a triumph for Richie Kenny whose four goals in Limerick destroyed the Janesboro challenge. 

However, their final against Home Farm was later remembered as the Whitehall robbery. Casement led 2-1 when Home Farm got the equaliser in lost time while two Casement players were receiving sideline treatment which brought the game into extra time which they went on to lose 3-2. Dick Kenny and Ger Coughlan scored for the Cork side with an outstanding performance from Tom O’Brien.

In 1971 Casement requested entry into the first division of the Cork AUL instead of the customary route beginning at league three. 

The first team to be selected to represent Casement juniors was: Jim Hurley, Tony Kelliher, Tony Murphy, Martin Cronin, Mick Bennett, Matt O’Sullivan, Paddy Ryan, Donie McCarthy, Pascal O’Sullivan, Tony O’Leary, Mick Dorgan and Tommy White, and soon after the these were regulars: former FAI president Tony Fitzgerald, Brian Corkery, Liam Mulcahy, Denis Lahive, Freddie Nicholson, Tony Walsh, Eamonn and Ronnie McSweeney.

In 1974 apart from the weekly fixture list and the occasional league table there was very little evidence of their existence.

However, it then became clear that the formative years were coming to an end, and Casement soon reaped the benefits of an outstanding schoolboy section. New signings Christy Coleman, Denis O’Keeffe, Micky Foolkes and Joe Kearney were one of the main reasons why Casement were considered one of the main contenders for promotion.

IRISH CAPS

1974 also saw the club’s first international Dave Keating at U15. Many more internationals were to follow.

Terry O’Donovan and Tommy ‘Tucker’O’Brien (U15 and youths); Alan O’Neill (U15 and U16); Paul Bowdren (U15, U17, U18); Richard Fitzgerald (U15); Pat Mulcahy (Intermediate); Gareth Cronin, John Hurley, John O’Sullivan (U15); Brian Barry Murphy (U16); Brendan Mulcahy (Junior); Seamus O’Leary (Irish Technical Colleges); Mark Dennehy (U15); Alan McCarthy, Roy O’Brien and Anthony Connolly (U15) all represented the club in green. Bowdren and O’Neill won Cork schoolboy league players of the year in 1983 and 1990.

Casement by now had established themselves as a leading clubs in the country with eight teams from U10 to junior. 1975 was another standout memory for the minor side as their bad experience in Whitehall two years’ before stood to them as captain Johnny Bowen raised the precious Munster Minor cup when Richie Kenny’s classic header proved the winner in defeating Hyde Rangers of Limerick. This was the first Casement team to bring home the Munster Youths cup managed by Tony Fitzgerald.

AOH success came in 1978 against Mallow. The most prestigious trophy in Cork junior football. A superb run which saw Casement edge out favourites Crofton after a replay in the semi-final with a goal from Billy O’Sullivan.

In the final, Noel Rea with a wonder goal befitting any occasion completed the victory. Fantastic performance by captain Liam Walsh, Dave Keating, Tony O’Leary, John Downey, John Bowen and Ger Coughlan. The triumphant team returned to the Horse Shoe Inn to celebrate a historic victory.

UNDERAGE

The standard of youths football in the 1970s was very high and Casement Celtic enjoyed some terrific encounters with the classy Tramore Athletic sides.

The Coca Cola Youths final in 1979 was another classic between the two sides and keeper Francis Lennox, who was on the panel for the Irish European Championships emerged as the hero for Casement when three magnificent saves decided the tie in favour of the Ballyphehane outfit.

In 1980, the club had another of their aspirations filled when they were crowned Premier League champions.

Three years later was the red-letter one for Casement. 

Both Casement junior teams met in the Cork Area Final of the FAI Junior Cup at Turner’s Cross. 

A unique occasion that resulted in Casement Celtic overcoming Casement United 2-0 with Billy and Paul O’Sullivan the scorers.

The combined Casement Celtic and Casement United junior teams who contested the FAI Junior Cup final in 1983.
The combined Casement Celtic and Casement United junior teams who contested the FAI Junior Cup final in 1983.

Casement continued to shine at underage level and in 1984 they won the Youths league managed by Jamesie Wilson. The following year the youths once again showed their class when they defeated Glasheen in the final of the Murphy’s Cup at Turner’s Cross. Paul Bowdren and Minty Fitzgerald were the scorers while skipper Lenny Sexton, Noel O’Leary, Pat Duggan made vital contributions.

The following season Wilson’s team retained the Murphy Cup and were also crowned league champions.

The ‘80s proved a very successful period for the Ballyhehane club and in 1987 Casement played in six schoolboy cup finals, winning four and losing two. It was also this year that Casement captured the Munster Senior league First Division title in their first attempt.

Ray Towler, Paul Bowdren, Pat Mulcahy, Michael ‘Mogsy’ Moynihan and Donal O’Donovan were some of the key players for this side.

The late ‘80s proved very successful for the club’s schoolboy section when a total of 13 trophies were won by the club. The U16 team won the league, cup and Marina cup. The first team to do the treble.

Also in the ‘87 season, Cork AUL captured the FAI Youth Interleague title when they defeated Dublin AUL in the final 2-0 at Turner’s Cross. Casement made a major contribution to the Cork team providing joint managers James Wilson and Denis Murphy of Albert Rovers. Players representing Casement were Liam Dawson, Frank Fitzgerald and Derek O’Sullivan.

Another highlight was the opening of their new pitch on Carrigrohane Road in 1992.

The late ‘90s saw the seniors win the O’Connell Cup and the Beamish Cup, but by the end of this decade after the U7 team won the southside league, that became the 101st trophy won by the Casement club.

The year 2000 began with five teams entered from Casement for the season ahead. U13, U14, Minor, Junior and senior level.

The Casement Celtic squad and management, with match mascots Niamh Sugrue, Shannen O'Sullivan and Dylan Twomey and kit sponsor Labour candidate Ciaran Lynch at Turner's Cross for the Corinthians Cup in 2004. Picture: Larry Cummins
The Casement Celtic squad and management, with match mascots Niamh Sugrue, Shannen O'Sullivan and Dylan Twomey and kit sponsor Labour candidate Ciaran Lynch at Turner's Cross for the Corinthians Cup in 2004. Picture: Larry Cummins

As a result of the Foot and Mouth outbreak, there was a big lull in sports activities, so soccer suffered badly for many weeks. This took its toll on the club and were later relegated to the First Division.

This was the beginning of a big fall for the club. Due to the lack of schoolboys in the parish, it has since been a struggle apart from the odd success.

Throughout this decade Casement saw their juniors win the Challenge Cup while the senior team managed by Ger Long were runners-up in the Pop Kelleher and Beamish Cups. They had beaten Avondale in the semi-final of the latter.

WOMEN'S TEAM

The women’s side also completed the league and cup double in 2013, in the CWSSL First Division managed by Pat Mulcahy, Leona Mulcahy and Dave Dineen. While Gary Kelleher and Brian Higgins side won the second division league and gained promotion.

However, it has been a difficult period yet the current committee are optimistic about the future of the club.

“We owe a great debt to the Haines family who came on board a couple of years ago. Eddie, Jim, Ross and Darren are doing fantastic work, bringing in some great players.

“They have revitalised the entire club and we are very grateful for this. Both Darren and James (Corcoran) are the current senior and junior managers are both are doing a fantastic job.

“We are very positive and are looking forward to the return of football hopefully in the not too distant future. Our hopes are to add a women’s team and also maybe an U19 men’s team, and I have no doubt when we return to some sort of normality, we can get to celebrate this huge milestone for our club.”

Casement Celtic U11 and 12 squads pictured in 1986 prior to departing for Limerick to play Ballynanty. 
Casement Celtic U11 and 12 squads pictured in 1986 prior to departing for Limerick to play Ballynanty. 

Over the years Casement have seen some exceptional players wear the red and black with pride. As well as those who received International caps such as Pat Mulcahy, Paul Bodwren and Richard Fitzgerald, there were many other exceptional players who gave tremendous service to the club.

Players such as Liam Mulcahy, Tony O’Leary, Christy Dooley, Tony Coade, Ray Towler, Sean Caulfield, Philip Martin, Michael Moynihan, Noel Elliot, Johnny Bowen, Ger Sullivan, Ger Long, Martin Higgins, Sean Sullivan, Seamus O’Leary, Danny Devereaux, Eric Goulding, Paul O’Sullivan and Tucker O’Brien, are just some worth mentioning.

There were also outstanding managers who greatly contributed to the club over the years. John Dowling, John Downey, Pat Mulcahy, Jim Power, Ger Long, Niall Harrington, Gary Kelleher, Peter Horgan, James Wilson, John Power, Tom Sugrue, Noel Cummins and John Bowen.

As well as players and management, there has been many families in the Ballyphehane area that were synonymous with the club such as the O’Connors, Powers, Wilsons, Towlers, Mulcahys, Foolkes and the Haines.

Alan O'Sullivan, Casement Celtic, tries to block a cross by Cian Lougheed, Leeds. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Alan O'Sullivan, Casement Celtic, tries to block a cross by Cian Lougheed, Leeds. Picture: Larry Cummins.

A special mention to one of Casement’s great clubmen Georgie Foolkes.

Georgie passed away in January and sincere sympathies to his wife Mary and children Peter and Yvonne. A quiet man who loved the game and loved the club.

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