Reeling on the banks of the Lee: Cork sports success from 1960 to 1964

Derek Daly reflects on the key moments from the early '60s
Reeling on the banks of the Lee: Cork sports success from 1960 to 1964

Noel Cantwell leading Man Utd out at Wembley prior to 1963 FA Cup final versus Leicester.

THE excellent RTÉ series Reeling in the Years runs from 1962 to the present day.

Here we go even further back, all the way to 1960, to do a Reeling in the Cork Sporting Years collection, with the first half of the 1960s covered this week. While it was a period that coincided with a famine period for Cork GAA on the inter-county front, there was still plenty of local sporting stories to keep Leesiders on their toes.


The boxing programme of the Rome Olympics is famous for introducing the world to a young American gold-medal-winning heavyweight boxer by the name of Cassius Clay, but bantamweight Paddy Kenny from Cork also boxed at those games.

The former Echo boy beat Switzerland’s Emile Anner in the first round, before narrowly losing 2-3 to American Jerry Armstrong in his last 16 bought, thereby ending his medal hopes.

The Cork hurlers were defeated in a classic Munster Final against the great Tipperary team of that era, by 4-13 to 4-11, despite two goals from Paddy Barry and six points from Christy Ring.

In football, Cork were very much under Kerry’s shadow at the time but they didn’t even get that far in 1960, as they were shocked by Waterford in the semi-final in Lismore, by 1-9 to 0-11.

On the home front, UCC beat Avondhu by a point in the football county final but were denied the double by a Joe Twomey captained Glen Rovers, who won the little All-Ireland by 3-8 to 1-12.

Across the water Cork native Noel Cantwell was in the news when becoming the most expensive full-back in history when transferring from West Ham United to Manchester United for £29,500, while Cork-born Charlie Hurley scored his first goal for Sunderland on St Stephen’s Day of this year.

In rugby, Munster were the interprovincial champions, as they won all three games that year, while one of Cork’s most famous rugby sons, Noel Murphy, scored his first try for Ireland in a defeat to Wales.


Ireland beat England 11-8 in the Five Nations Championship, with Murphy starring alongside, Jerry Walsh and Tom Kiernan, while closer to home Cork Constitution won only their second Munster Senior Cup in 15 years.

Cork Hibernians were Munster Senior Cup victors that year, a win that was sandwiched in between the 1960 and 1962 wins of rivals Cork Celtic.

In hurling Blackrock saw off Avondhu 4-10 to 3-7 in the county final, while in the football decider the north Cork division made up for the previous year’s disappointment by beating Clonakilty 1-7 to 1-5.

At inter-county level Ring blasted 3-4 in the semi-final against Waterford, but Tipp were too strong in the final, seeing off the Rebels by 3-6 to 0-7, while Cork also lost the Munster football final, losing 2-13 to 1-4 to the Kingdom. There was some light at the end of the tunnel, however, with the Cork minor footballers winning that year’s All-Ireland, defeating Mayo by 3-7 to 0-5.


This year was the year that the legendary Christy Ring played his final championship match for Cork, which was a defeat in the Munster semi-final at the hands of Waterford, in a career that stretched all the way back to a league match against Kilkenny in late 1939.

Another Cork legend, Vincent O’Brien from Churchtown in north Cork, won his first Derby that year, with Larkspur taking the spoils at odds of 22/1, while yet another Cork sporting hero Tom Kiernan toured South Africa with the British & Irish Lions, with the Springboks whitewashing the visitors 3-0 in the Series.

Vincent O'Brien and his wife at the stables at Ballydoyle, looking at his trophies.
Vincent O'Brien and his wife at the stables at Ballydoyle, looking at his trophies.

The Glen were hurling kingpins again, seeing off UCC in that year’s final, while Macroom were novel winners of a novel football final, defeating their own division Muskerry by 3-4 to 1-4.


History was made in May of this year when Noel Cantwell became the first Corkman to captain his side to FA Cup triumph at Wembley, as Manchester United won their first piece of silverware since the Munich air disaster by beating Leicester City 3-1. He wouldn’t be the last Corkonian to achieve this.

Cork Hibs won the Munster Senior League this year while in rugby Munster again enjoyed a 100% record while being crowned interprovincial champions once more.

It was a great year to be a student, with UCC winning both the hurling and football county titles, seeing off Blackrock 4-17 to 5-6 in the hurling decider, while St. Nicholas were defeated by a single point in the football final.

He may have finished up with Cork by this point but Christy Ring was still Mr Railway Cup, with him winning his 18th and last medal in this competition this year at 42 years of age.


Ring was still plugging away at club level, and he won his final county medal on the field of play in ’64, scoring 1-4 in the final against St. Finbarr’s in a 3-12 to 2-7 triumph.

Christy Ring in action for Glen Rovers against St Finbarr's in 1964. 
Christy Ring in action for Glen Rovers against St Finbarr's in 1964. 

UCC were once again crowned football county champions, with them this time seeing off the challenge of Carbery by 0-12 to 1-6, while Tipp and Kerry once again ended Cork’s interests in the Munster championships, to complete a miserable half-decade on that front.

Cork Celtic would win another Munster Senior Cup this year, while across the pond Charlie Hurley helped Sunderland gain promotion to the old First Division.

In rugby this year saw a famous win for Ireland at Twickenham, with Ireland winning 5-18, with Noel Murphy starring in the victory and scoring a famous try.

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