DOYLES STEVEDORES, better known as The Dockers, spent five eventful seasons as a member of the then Cork & District Shipping League.
Joining in 1969-70, the debutants made an immediate impact by spectacularly winning the championship at the first attempt.
Drawn in section B of the early competition, goals from Roger Walsh and Tommy Jones sealed a 2-0 win over Cork Examiner at Marina Park on Sunday afternoon, September 13, 1969. Jones was again among the goals, this time with Seanie Mullins, two weeks later in another 2-0 victory over Guys.
A 5-2 defeat to Fords and a 3-0 loss to St Mary’s in the FAI Junior Cup was followed by a first win in the league as a John Murphy hat-trick registered all the winners’ goals. A 4-1 win over Spinning Co made it three wins out of four in the shield before a run of three league matches yielded four points out of six to take the newcomers to joint top with early leaders Fords who won three on the bounce.
John Murphy took his tally for the season to five with the decisive goals in the 2-0 win over Guys and despite losing for the first time in the league, 5-2 to Cork Shoe Company, a 4-0 win over Southern Mills kept the heat on Fords.
It was back to shield action six days later as Aer Lingus were dispatched 5-2 at Marina Park. Despite losing 2-1 to Fords in the shield semi-final on January 30, goals from Denis Kennefick and Murphy on February 14 against Spinning Co in the league notched up a third win out of four.
It would be another month before Doyles would get to play again in the league. By that stage, their closest rivals Fords and Cork Shoe Company moved 10 and eight points ahead with six and five more matches played.
With a lot of catching-up to be done, Doyles hit Lunhams for four without reply on March 14 with new signing from Rockmount in late January, John O’Callagahan, sharing the goals with Murphy, Kennefick and a Donie Coleman own goal.
Spinning Co went under for a second time as goals from Jim Cronin, Tommy Jones, and Jackie Conway made it four league wins on the trot.
On the first Saturday in April all three title contenders claimed full points as Doyles had Jackie Conway to thank for all three goals against Guys. The 5-1 win over Postal Workers at Marina Park on Sunday, April 12 proved significant in reducing the deficit at the top to two points with two matches in hand. A double from Conway paved the way for Kennefick and Murphy along with John Murray to add further goals.
After Jones netted the crucial winner in the 1-0 win over Lunhams, the 3-1 win over second-placed Fords on April 2 recorded an eighth win in a row to take the winners top for the first time.
By the time the first-round cup tie against Spinning Co came around. Kennefick, Conway, and Murphy were among the goals in a 3-1 win over Fords.
A replay was needed to squeeze past Spinning Co in the cup and after Guys were defeated 2-0 in the quarter-final, the championship was confirmed after the 7-2 win over Examiner on June 2. Holders CIE gained revenge for the league defeats by winning 2-1 in the cup semi-final.
An application to change the team’s name to Dockers was rejected at the start of the 1970-71 season and despite the return of John Murphy from Castleview and Richard Murray from Botanic, Doyles relinquished their crown to Irish Steel and exited the cup at the quarter-final stage to CIE Athletic.
A disastrous start to the shield campaign in 1971-72 resulted in four straight defeats before the cup campaign offered hopes of a revival as wins over Olympic (2-1), Postal Workers (3-2) and CIE Athletic (4-2) in the semi-final, secured a first cup final appearance against Irish Steel.
However, defeat in the league to champions Kincora Spinners was followed by a 2-1 loss in the cup final at Wembley Park on Friday, June 23.
Despite doing well in the shield campaigns of 1972/73 and 73/74, a series of walkovers in the league campaign of 1974-75 signalled the end of the line but Doyles’ place in the roll of honour of champions will be talked about whenever tales of the 1969-70 campaign are recalled.
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