ONLY four men had the distinction of being the last line of defence for Cork Hibernians and Cork Celtic in the 19 years the two teams competed together in the League of Ireland.
Dublin-born Kevin Blount was the first to enter the fray when he joined Celtic in 1960 after spells with Shelbourne and Transports had earlier brought him to the attention of the international selectors.
His superb form was rewarded with 12 appearances for the League of Ireland representative side along with being the senior team’s reserve on five occasions.
With Celtic, he played in the league play-off defeat to Shelbourne of 1961-’62 and the cup final defeat to Shamrock Rovers two years later.
He continued his outstanding form into Celtic’s first venture into European competition in the European Cup Winners’ Cup when his acrobatic skills helped the Turner’s Cross outfit to a morale-boosting 1-1 draw with Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria.
He grew tired of the commute by motorbike between Cork and Dublin and joined Dundalk in 1966 in time to star with the Lilywhites in their title-winning campaign of 1966-’67 along with future Cork Celtic title winner of 1973-’74, Ben Hannigan.
A suspension at the beginning of the 1968-’69 prompted then Hibernians’ manager Amby Fogarty to tempt the custodian back to Cork to play six games for the Rebel club before finishing up his 21-year career back in the capital with St Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne.
Joe O’Grady replaced Bobby Brohan between the posts in November 1967 and went on to make 232 appearances, the 11th highest in the club’s history, before moving to Galway Rovers and Cork Celtic where he finished his career in the club’s final season in 1979-’80.
He was an integral part of the team’s championship-winning side of 1970-’71 and went on to add a cup medal the following year in the memorable 3-0 win over Waterford. His medal haul included Shield, Blaxnit Cup and three Munster Senior Cup accolades.
He won five Amateur International caps and was a popular favourite with the Hibs’ faithful and distinguished himself in his time in the Irish Army by taking part in 17 winning All-Army teams.
Another Hibs and Celtic legend Austin Noonan spotted the potential in a young goalkeeper from Ballyphehane whose older brothers Pat and Noel were on the books of Celtic and Hibs respectively. Declan O’Mahony won Minor and U-21 All-Ireland Football titles before signing for Hibernians in late 1971.
He made his debut in a 2-1 FAI Cup first-round win over Shelbourne on February 13, 1972, at Dalymount Park but didn’t feature again until October.
He went on to keep 18 clean sheets in 41 games, winning FAI Cup, Shield, Dublin City and Munster Senior Cup medals as well as playing in Europe against German cup winners Schalke 04.
After 82 games for Hibs, he joined Celtic in 1975, winning Munster Senior Cup honours before switching back to Gaelic football with St Finbarr’s as a full-forward in 1977.
He resided in Newton Court in Grange along with Celtic goalkeeping great Alex Ludzic and was a huge comfort to the Ludzic family following Alex’s untimely passing in December 2002.
Peter Gregson arrived in Cork in August 1973 and came to Hibs’ aid when a goalkeeping crisis arose at the club. He had previously played with Blackpool, Southport and Peterborough United in England and made his debut for the Leesiders against Waterford at Flower Lodge on August 29 in the President’s Cup Final.
His only other appearances came against Czech side Bank Ostrava in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in both legs on September 20 and October 3.
He was released after regulars Joe O’Grady and Declan O’Mahony returned from injury and joined Celtic as understudy to Alec Ludzic.
He found employment in 1974 with CIE as a bus conductor and later as an inspector, going on to marry Susan, a daughter of then Hibs’ chairman Joe McKenna.
He remained with the Turner’s Cross outfit for four years and had the opportunity to renew friendships with some of his Hibs’ teammates when he was a guest with the party which toured the USA in May/June 1976.
After playing with a number of local clubs, he led CIE Athletic to the club’s last Premier League success as player-manager in 1989/90.