THE current chairperson of the West Cork Ladies Football Board Brian Cotter enjoyed a memorable season in 1988.
The Midleton club man helped the Midleton CBS senior team win the Harty Cup, he won a minor county club title and he was a member of a Cork U17 International Rules team who toured Australia. The prison officer can’t believe 33 years have passed since that fateful year.
“I am turning 50 this year, so when I look in the mirror in the morning it is not that hard to believe! I have fantastic memories. They are still vivid because they were so good.”
The former player said their success was built on a truly ‘golden generation’ of players in Midleton in the late 1980s which helped ensure they captured numerous county and Munster titles.
“I was lucky to be part of a golden generation in Midleton. Every year we were winning county titles.
“I played three years with the Midleton minor team and never lost a game. We won three premier minor county titles. Every year there were four or five from the club playing with the Cork minors. It was a great era.
“From a school perspective, the Erin’s Own players were a big addition. John Dillon and the two Corcoran brothers were key players for us.
“Killeagh players were also a big addition. They traditionally went to Youghal for their secondary education, but they started coming to Midleton.
“East Cork hurling was just on the crest of a wave, we were fortunate to have many talented players from the various clubs. It all fell into place.”
Cotter was one of the younger members of the successful Midleton CBS team who won the Harty Cup in 1988. Brian featured at corner forward in their Munster championship success against Thurles CBS.
“I started off the season at midfield, which would have been my natural position. However, I moved into the forward line in the replayed semi-final against Flannan’s and stayed there for the first half of the final.
“I came out as a third midfielder in the final against the wind. It was some win. It had become the Holy Grail because of the two defeats in the preceding years. It was a breakthrough win for East Cork hurling.
“It was some feeling bringing the Harty Cup to Midleton. In the following weeks, we brought the cup to all the primary schools in the division which was lovely.”
Cotter’s hurling prowess ensured he was a member of the 1989 Cork minor hurling panel, a memory he still cherishes despite their shock Munster championship defeat.
“We were comprehensively beaten by Clare in the first round which at the time was very disappointing. However, Clare hurling was on the rise and a lot of that team featured on the Clare senior team who won the All-Ireland title in 1995.
“The peak of my career was between the age of 14 and 18. I achieved good success with LIT and I played senior hurling with Midleton. I was lucky enough to play with a great group and won county medals in every age group with the exception of senior.”
Paudie O’Brien was one of the top players on that Midleton CBS team.
“Paudie at that stage was the best underage forward in Cork. He was our go-to guy. “He was brilliant at winning the ball. He would drop the shoulder and go for a goal. I remember him scoring 2-4 in a county final against St Finbarr’s.
“We were fortunate we had so many super players. We had a lot of players who played for Cork at some stage.”
He also has very fond memories of playing with a young Brian Corcoran, who was always destined for greatness.
“We always heard this whisper about his young lad called Brian Corcoran. I remember the management team were reluctant to play Brian in the first round as he was so young.
“Brian came on as a corner-forward and scored a few points. We knew then there was no need to worry. He was just exceptional.
I remember watching him play in an East Cork U16 hurling final against Midleton. There were two lads on him, but he still scored 6-7 from midfield. He was the most unassuming player. He was different class.”
August 1988 saw Brian tour Australia with a Cork U17 football team who played a number of games against local opposition in top stadiums over a four-week period. Brian loved the experience.
“We had a good team. We trained for eight months before heading out. Our game plan was to be mobile and athletic.
“Colin Corkery was our most recognisable name. Paudie Palmer was a selector and he was a great character. We got to travel all over Australia for four weeks and we also had a week in Singapore. We played a number of games before AFL games in front of big crowds. The games were physical, but we remained unbeaten.
“A lot of us got our Leaving Cert results while we were away. I rang home from a payphone to get my results. Australia was just about far enough away from my mother when she opened the envelope!
“Between the Harty Cup, training for both club and county, my books took a back seat. I repeated the following year and thankfully it all worked out.”