Recalling Cork's first All-Ireland minor football success in 1961

Victory over Mayo in front of the biggest crowd ever at Croke Park crowned a memorable year for the youngsters
Recalling Cork's first All-Ireland minor football success in 1961

The Cork minor team that won the 1961 All-Ireland minor football title: Back row from left: Tommy O'Sullivan (selector), Dan Dineen, Denis Philpott, John McGrath, Vincie Cronin, Ray Cawley, Ned Monaghan, Brendan Larkin, Donal Barrett, Frank Cogan, Joe O'Keeffe, Gus Harrington, Andy Kenneally (selector), Dave O'Brien (selector). Front row from left: Derry Gowen (selector), Flor Hayes, Tommy Burke, Dermot Kehilly, Tom Monaghan, Ned Coughlan (capt.). Jimmy O'Donoghue, Mick Archer, Des Nangle, Pat Daly, Mick Barrett (selector and trainer).

THIS is the 60th anniversary of the first of Cork’s 11 All-Ireland minor football titles.

In 1961, a star-studded side embarked on a campaign determined to make amends for the previous year’s defeat by Galway in the final.

Cork could call on seven survivors from that team and their experience would prove invaluable.

Also central to the success was the important link to Colaiste Chriost Ri, who supplied seven players to the side.

Cork qualified to meet the Connacht champions again in the decider, but it was Mayo who provided the opposition on this occasion.

Of course, there were very different times back then as Cork found out, when they went to select their team.

Regular full-back Myles Lyne from Castletownbere, a strong and dependable operator, was studying for the priesthood and his availability came under the spotlight.

While the authorities granted permission for Lyne to play in the semi-final against Antrim, he was denied on this occasion, until the 11th hour.

Word came through only the day before the game that Lyne would be allowed attend, but the team had already been picked and he didn’t make it.

Under the direction of manager Mick Barrett, Cork switched their team as a result.

Vincie Cronin moved from the pivotal centre-back role to corner-back with John McGrath diverting to full-back.

Jimmy O’Donoghue was introduced to left half-back with Brendan Larkin, one of the survivors from the previous year, switching to the number six role.

The final itself was very one-sided, Cork starting like a whirlwind and never looking trouble as they eased to a 3-7 to 0-5 victory.

Kildorrery’s Tom Monaghan was their ace in the pack in attack, scoring a couple of early goals to knock Mayo back and a third from Fred Hayes late on just illustrated the gulf in class.

After the trophy presentation, the Cork lads watched the senior final between Down and Offaly among a record crowd of 90,856.

And to this day they still marvel at the exploits of Down legend James McCarthy, who caught a ball with his back to goal, turned in the air and stuck the ball in the back of the net before his feet touched terra firma again.

The homecoming was different because Cork travelled home after the game before returning to the station on Monday evening.

They were ushered into a room and then mingled as if they had just got off the train.

The official reception was held in the old Victoria Hotel, where the players lapped up a smashing meal and a sing-song soon started.

All was well with the world until the players were asked to sing and one stepped forward.

The elders were expecting an Irish song, but ended tut-tutting and head shaking on hearing a Jim Reeves ditty ‘Put Your Sweet Lips Closer To The Phone.’

It was a ‘foreign’ song, usually defined as British because of the infamous ban, though the old crooner himself was born in the USA.

It went down like a led balloon and there was even talk of disciplinary action until commonsense prevailed.

Criost Ri players were also royally treated, when visiting the school with the cup.

Players from Nemo Rangers and St Finbarr’s back-boned the school team, which managed to reach the Corn Uí Mhuirí final, but lost surprisingly to St Flannan’s from Ennis.

Seven members of Colaiste Chriost Rí who were members of the victorious Cork minor football team which won the title for the first time in 1961. From left: Brendan Larkin (Douglas); Frank Cogan (Nemo Rangers); Ray Cawley (do.); Donal Barrett (do.) with cup; Vincie Cronin (St. Finbarrs); Denis Philpott (do.) and Gus Harrington (do.).
Seven members of Colaiste Chriost Rí who were members of the victorious Cork minor football team which won the title for the first time in 1961. From left: Brendan Larkin (Douglas); Frank Cogan (Nemo Rangers); Ray Cawley (do.); Donal Barrett (do.) with cup; Vincie Cronin (St. Finbarrs); Denis Philpott (do.) and Gus Harrington (do.).

In later years, midfielder Frank Cogan was the only player to win the Sam Maguire in 1973.

Cork were slow to promote youngsters unlike Galway for whom Noel Tierney, Seamus Leyden, Cyril Dunne and Enda Colleran from the 1960 minor team won three All-Irelands on the trot.

The team was: R Cawley (Nemo Rangers); D Nangle (Ballincollig), J McGrath (Mitchelstown), V Cronin (St Finbarr’s); A Harrington (do), B Larkin (Douglas), J O’Donoghue (Macroom); F Cogan (Nemo Rangers), E Coughlan (Newcestown), captain; F Hayes (Clonakilty), D Barrett (Nemo Rangers), D Philpott (St Finbarr’s); T Burke (Millstreet), M Archer (St Finbarr’s), T Monaghan (Kildorrery). Subs: D Kehilly (Newcestown), P Daly (Rosscarbery), D Dineen (Bantry), E Monaghan (Kildorrery), J O’Keeffe (Kiskeam). Others who played in the championship were: M Lyne (Castletownbere), V O’Callaghan (Bantry), J McEvoy (Lees), K O’Connor (Mitchelstown).

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