Reeling on the banks of the Lee: Páirc Uí Chaoimh opens but Ring leaves the stage

Derek Daly looks back at the history of Cork sport in the second half of the 1970s
Reeling on the banks of the Lee: Páirc Uí Chaoimh opens but Ring leaves the stage

Cork and Kilkenny met for the opening of Páirc Uí Chaoimh on June 6, 1976, with /Kilkenny defenders Larkin and Pat Henderson clearing their line watched by Cork's Pat Moylan, John Fenton and Sean O'Leary

IN the fourth part of our Reeling in the Cork Sport series we look at the second half of the 1970s, where the highlights were the opening of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the wonderful hurling three-in-a-row, and the unfortunate loss of the Cork’s finest ever hurler, as well as the demise of two of Cork’s most famous soccer clubs.

1975

The era of the star soccer signings had arrived on Leeside, with English international Rodney Marsh playing three times for Cork Hibs, scoring once, while later that year the one and only George Best would rock up at Cork Celtic, playing three times as well, but failing to score.

Blackrock won the county in hurling, beating city rivals Glen Rovers 4-11 to 0-10, with a young Tom Cashman bagging 1-2. 

Earlier that year the other city behemoth St Finbarr’s became All-Ireland club champions with a 3-8 to 1-6 victory over Fenians of Kilkenny, with Jimmy Barry-Murphy scoring 1-4 in the triumph.

In the football decider, Nemo Rangers were easy winners over Dohenys, winning 4-12 to 0-2, with Noel Morgan contributing 2-2.

Cork were denied a three-in-a-row of Munster football titles by Mick O’Dwyer’s emerging Kerry, as the Kingdom won the Munster Final easily by 1-14 to 0-7.

In hurling Cork were Munster champions, with a comprehensive 3-14 to 0-12 win over Limerick, with Charlie McCarthy scoring 1-5 and JBM 1-2, but they would go on to lose the All-Ireland semi-final to Galway by 4-15 to 2-19.

1976:

Cork Hibs fold before the start of the season, only five years after being League of Ireland Champions. Their place in the league goes to Cork Alberts, who are managed by one Noel O’Mahony.

Meanwhile, Geoff Hurst becomes the latest big name to ply his trade on Leeside, as he made three appearances, and scored three goals, for Cork Celtic.

The Athletic Grounds is no more, as a brand new Páirc Uí Chaoimh opens. It is officially opened on the 6th of June with the hurlers playing Kilkenny and the footballers playing Kerry.

Just seven weeks later Kerry would return, with the venue creaking at its seams, as the two sides played out a 0-10 to 0-10 draw. Kerry would win the replay after extra time, by 2-19 to 3-20.

Action from the 1976 Munster football final in the Páirc.
Action from the 1976 Munster football final in the Páirc.

The Cork hurlers won the All-Ireland, as a Ray Cummins captained side saw off Wexford by 2-21 to 4-11. Pat Moylan top scored with 0-10, with Charlie McCarthy 1-3, Cummins 1-2 and JBM 0-4, also contributing as part of a star-studded forward line.

Cork would also win the U21 hurling title, with an easy win over Kilkenny at Walsh Park, while on the home front Patsy Harte’s 2-2 inspired the Glen to a 2-7 to 0-10 win over the Rockies, while the Barr’s were football champs, beating St. Michael’s by three.

1977:

Cork’s Vincent O’Brien wins both the English and Irish Derby’s with The Minstrel.

The Republic of Ireland soccer team beat France 1-0 at Dalymount Park, thanks to a Liam Brady winner, but they miss out on World Cup qualification by a mere two points.

In the club hurling championship JBM scored a hat-trick in the semi-final as the Barr’s saw off the Rockies, and they would then go on to beat the All-Ireland club champions Glen Rovers by 1-17 to 1-5 in the final. The Glen had beaten Laois side Camross earlier in the year by 2-12 to 0-8 in the All-Ireland Final with Tom Collins scoring 2-1 in the victory.

Cork retained their All-Ireland hurling title with a 1-17 to 3-8 win over Wexford in Croke Park. Martin O’Doherty was captain that year as Gerald McCarthy rifled over six points and Charlie McCarthy five, with Seanie O’Leary scoring 1-2 from play.

Nemo were country champs in football, again, with Dinny Allen scoring 1-2 in a 1-8 to 1-3 win over St Michael’s.

1978:

The three-in-a-row is complete, as Cork beat Kilkenny by 1-15 to 2-8. Captain Charlie McCarthy scored 0-7, while JBM scored 1-1 in the history making triumph.

In football Dinny Allen scored 2-2 v Kerry but it is not enough as the Kingdom win the Munster Final 3-14 to 3-7.

The club championship goes better for Allen, as he scored 1-3 to help beat poor St. Michael’s again, by 1-9 to 1-3.

1-4 from Ray Cummins helped Blackrock to a 4-12 to 1-7 win over Glen Rovers in the county final, while the Barr’s could boast of being the All-Ireland champions in the same year, as they saw off Rathnure of Wexford by 2-7 to 0-9.

Legendary West German football Uwe Seeler makes one appearance for Cork Celtic in this year, grabbing a brace to show his class.

Munster’s most famous day occurs on 31 October as the Tom Kiernan-coached side famously beat New Zealand 12-0 in front of a packed Thomond Park, in a result that goes down in folklore.

1979:

We lose Ringy!

The great Christy Ring passes away after suffering a heart attack on the 2nd of March. 60,000 mourners would line the streets on the day of his funeral as former teammate and Taoiseach Jack Lynch gave a wonderful oration at his graveside where he stated: “As long as hurling is played the story of Christy Ring will be told”.

Mourners line the streets for the Christy Ring funeral, March 4 1979. 
Mourners line the streets for the Christy Ring funeral, March 4 1979. 

On the pitch, the Cork hurlers would go on to win a record fifth Munster title in a row but would fall to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final by 2-14 to 1-13, as the four-in-a-row bid ends without Ringy there to inspire the troops.

Blackrock would win a classic All-Ireland club final, beating Kilkenny’s Ballyhale Shamrocks 5-7 to 5-5, with Ray Cummins bagging a crucial 2-1.

Nemo are the All-Ireland football champs, beating Monaghan’s Scotstown 2-9 to 1-3 in the final.

On the homefront the Rockies beat the Barr’s in the hurling decider, while the Barr’s make up for the loss in the football, beating Castlehaven in what was their first-ever appearance in a county final.

In soccer, Cork Celtic are expelled from the League of Ireland. Champions in 1974, when Hibs were third. Just five years later both clubs are gone forever.

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