Reeling on the banks of the Lee: History of Cork sports 1970 to 1974

Derek Daly opens the archives from the early '70s to reflect on how Cork teams fared
Reeling on the banks of the Lee: History of Cork sports 1970 to 1974

Cork's Dave McCarthy scores against Kerry goalkeeper Paud O'Mahony in the Munster football final at Killarney in 1974.

THIS is the third part of our Reeling in the Years Cork sport series, with the arrival of the 1970s seeing what was arguably the greatest sporting decade ever for the Rebel county.


Cork won the first of four camogie All-Ireland’s in-a-row this year, with a 5-7 to 3-2 victory over Kilkenny in the final.

In May of this year, Dave Bacuzzi joined Cork Hibernians, while this was the year that the Millstreet Maestro Billy Coleman won his first National Rally Championship.

Churchtown’s legendary horse trainer Vincent O’Brien won both the Irish and English Derby’s with the equally legendary Nijinsky.

On the local GAA scene, UCC beat Muskerry 2-12 to 0-16 in the small ball final, with Ray Cummins scoring 2-3 for College. One Frank Murphy refereed the final. In the football decider, Muskerry beat Nemo Rangers in a classic, 3-10 to 4-6.

Cork were All-Ireland Hurling Champions at senior level, with a 6-21 to 5-15 win over Wexford in the first-ever 80-minute final, with Charlie McCarthy with 1-9 and Eddie O’Brien with 3-1 doing major damage.

It was a great year for Cork at underage level, with an U21 double achieved thanks to wins over Wexford, again, after a replay, on a huge scoreline of 5-17 to 0-8, while the footballers beat Fermanagh 2-11 to 0-9 in their decider. In minor hurling Cork had a comprehensive 5-19 to 2-9 win over Galway in the final.


Cork Hibs win their only League of Ireland title this year, beating the mighty Shamrock Rovers in a league title play-off 3-1 at Dalymount Park after they had finished the season level on points. Miah Dennehy bagged a brace while Dave Wigginton got the other.

A John Horgan captained Blackrock beat St Finbarr’s in the hurling club final by 2-19 to 5-4. Ray Cummins scored two goals in the county final for the second year running, but this time for the Rockies, while Pat Moylan rifled over 10 points. 

Charlie McCarthy scored a hat-trick for the beaten Barrs, while a young 17-year-old Jimmy Barry-Murphy raised a green flag of his own.

In the football final, Declan Barron scored two goals as Carbery beat UCC 3-11 to 2-8.

At inter-county level Cork hammered Kerry in the Munster final by 0-25 to 0-14 with dual stars Denis Coughlan and Ray Cummins scoring ten and six points each in the victory, but they would fall to eventual champions Offaly by five points in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Cork were to secure another U21 All-Ireland double, while the minor hurlers won another title at Kilkenny’s expense.

In camogie, Wexford were the victims this tear, as Cork won by 4-6 to 1-2 in the All-Ireland final.


Glen Rovers were county champions, beating a Youghal side containing Bill Cooper’s uncle Frank as well as one Seanie O’Leary. Tom Buckley, Pat Doherty and Patsy Harte doing the damage on the scoreboard for the city side.

While the Glen were taking the local bragging rights the Rockies were busy winning the second-ever All-Ireland club final, beating Rathnure of Wexford 5-13 to 6-9, with John Rothwell scoring 3-1 in the win.

Cork would reach the All-Ireland Final, playing some wonderful hurling, but a late fade out in the final against Kilkenny would prove costly, with Cork eventually losing 3-24 to 5-11, when they had led by eight with 13 minutes remaining.

There was All-Ireland success for the camogie team, with a 2-5 to 1-4 win over Kilkenny, while the minor footballers also tasted All-Ireland glory, with a 3-11 to 2-11 win over Tyrone.

Nemo Rangers won their first-ever county title in this year, with a Billy Morgan captained side seeing off UCC by 2-9 to 0-8, with a young Dinny Allen bagging 1-6.

FAI Cup Final hat-trick hero Miah Dennehy, left, celebrates with his captain Dave Bacuzzi following the team's homecoming in 1972. 
FAI Cup Final hat-trick hero Miah Dennehy, left, celebrates with his captain Dave Bacuzzi following the team's homecoming in 1972. 

History was made in the FAI Cup Final, with Miah Dennehy scoring a hat-trick as Cork Hibs beat Waterford United 3-0.

In the Olympic Games in Munich Cork’s Fanahan McSweeney represented Ireland in the 400m on the track.


The Cork footballers win a brilliant All-Ireland, with some swashbuckling displays, scoring five goals against Kerry in the Munster final and five more against Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final.

They only managed three in the final itself, a 3-17 to 2-13 triumph over Galway. JBM was the big story, a 19-year-old skinhead scoring 2-1, but Ray Cummins with eight points and Jimmy Barrett with 1-2 also starred.

The first Millstreet Horse Show happened this year, while Cork Hibs retain the FAI Cup with a 1-0 replay victory over Shelbourne at Flower Lodge.

Down the road at Musgrave Park Munster are deprived of history when a last-minute New Zealand penalty secures a 3-3 draw for the All Blacks. That scalp would have to wait. Ireland also drew with the Kiwis at Lansdowne Road with Cork Con’s Barry McGann seeing his late conversion attempt to win the game shave the post. It is noteworthy that the great Tom Kiernan played his final game for Ireland this year.

In a complete reversal of the previous year, the Rockies would be county champions while the Glen would succeed them as All-Ireland champions. Nemo Rangers would also end the year as All-Ireland champions, beating Dublin powerhouse St Vincent’s after a replay.

Seamus Coughlan in action for Nemo in 1973.
Seamus Coughlan in action for Nemo in 1973.


The sequence in the All-Ireland hurling club championship continued with the Rockies being champions again, with a five-point win over Rathnure. The Barrs would beat them in the county final, however, by 2-17 to 2-14, with Charlie McCarthy pilfering 2-3.

Cork retained the Munster football title, beating Kerry 1-11 to 0-7, but they were caught on the hop by a coming Dublin side in the semi-final, losing by 2-11 to 1-8.

At minor level, there would be a double, with Kilkenny and Mayo being seen off by two and four points, respectively.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more