WHEN people talk about great Cork junior soccer players from a bygone era, several names are usually to the fore of this conversation.
One such name is Eugene 'Janeboy' McCarthy. He was regarded as one of the finest soccer inside-forwards of his generation.
He was also well known in the haulage business starting at a young age with his father, and because of his incredible work ethic and experience, he later was able to set up his own haulage firm.
Janeboy was a late starter to football when he joined St Mary’s at 16. He also played in England with local team Shamrock Rovers from Birmingham when he worked there as there was very little work in Cork at the time.
McCarthy was born in 1934 and was the son of the late John and Kathleen that hailed from Ballymacthomas, Old Market Place in the heart of the Northside. He grew up there with his siblings John, Denis, Karl, Jim, Noreen, Mary-Ellen, Ann, and the late Kathleen.
Janeboy remembers fondly when he first played with his first soccer club St Mary’s.
“The first club and team I played for was St Mary’s minor team in 1951 when I was 16 years old. I was two years younger than the rest of the lads, however, I scored 15 goals that season playing inside right, and was just behind the great Gerry Geaney who had scored 20 goals.
“We did very well that season, and went on to win the Munster Minor League, and were Shield runners-up.
When the season finished I was approached by John Crowley, who owned the Country Club Hotel, and he asked me would I sign with Cork Hibs.
"Unfortunately, I had to turn him down as I was working six days a week driving very long hours, and couldn’t train three times a week.
”I signed for Angleslea United the following year and won the AUL League and Shield, again playing with some great players and friends with the likes of the Sammy Spillane and Dalton brothers, Denis and Micheal.
“I then played with North View, a team from the Market Place for three years winning multiple trophies.”
Janeboy then had to make the difficult decision to travel to England in 1956. He stayed with his sister Mary-Ellen in Hawkley Brook in Birmingham and played with an Irish-formed team called Shamrock Rovers.
They played in the West Midland Alliance League, and Janeboy received plenty of pundits, earnings many Man of the Match awards. On one occasion referee, Maurice Price said he was one of the best players he seen, after a game on route to winning the President’s Cup in 1960.
“I had to travel to England to work in the mid-'50s, and I played with a team of Irish lads called Shamrock Rovers.
“One funny story at my time in Birmingham was when a scout from Aston Villa called to my sister Mary-Ellen’s house to tell me the manager Joe Mercer wanted to speak to me.
“I had to tell him I was too busy at work so I couldn’t meet him. The same man called again a week later and was a little more persistent, so I asked him how old do you think I am?
“His answer was 18 years of age, however, when I told him I was 26 his jaw dropped, needless to say I never heard from them again,” Janeboy said with a mighty laugh.
Janeboy returned home in 1961 to marry his childhood sweetheart Helena O’Sullivan and had four children John, Maxine, Karen and the late Pat. He had a great work ethic and worked every hour he could, driving his own truck that was based out of the Cork Warehouse Company.
“I arrived home after six years to get married to my late wife Helena and was blessed with four wonderful children. My priorities changed when I had a family so I put soccer on the backburner for a couple of years.
“I then joined North View in the AUL league for a couple of years before I joined the Dockers team that played in the Shipping League.
“I started my own haulage company a couple of years later so playing for the Dockers suited me as I only played games.
“I did get offers to play in the Munster Senior League when Rockmount’s Eugene O’Sullivan approached me to sign for them, but I declined, I also was asked to play with St Mary’s and Rockville.
“I was happy playing with the Dockers because it gave me a chance to play with my brother Denis, and the Shipping League was very strong at the time.
“The Dockers had some great players those days with the Curtin brothers (Con and Anthony), Ray (Darky) Forde, Jackie Conway, John Murphy, Tommy Jones, Dan O’Leary (who was the keeper) to mention a couple, and many more great players that made us a very successful team winning many cups.”
Janeboy played up until the age of 50, however, he's still a very fit man today at the age of 87. After getting his hip replaced last year his now walking on his treadmill twice a day.
Still putting us all to shame.