ROCKMOUNT, the oldest club in the Munster Senior League, founded in 1924, celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1998/99 by winning the Munster Senior League and FAI Intermediate Cup for the first time.
After spending three seasons in the Cork City Minor League, winning the Munster Minor Cup in 1926/27, the club made the move to junior football and spectacularly won the Munster Junior Cup in their inaugural season of 1927/28 by beating St Joseph’s (Waterford) 3-2 after a 2-2 draw in Cork.
The MJC was won for a second time two years later with victory over Clonmel Wanderers at Victoria Cross on September 11, 1930. The blue ribbon event of Munster junior football was retained in 1933 following victory over Waterford’s Shamrock Rovers after winning the local league and cup double the previous year.
Tommy Linehan and his assistant Tommy Murphy founded the club’s schoolboy season in 1951/52 before the club finally established themselves as Munster Senior League members in 1976 after earlier spells in the '30s.
The appointment of team manager Billy Cronin and his assistant Noel Burke led Rockmount into the 1998/99 campaign confident of winning a major trophy. Despite losing, 2-1, on the opening day to Avondale Utd, in the Keane Cup on August 23, a 5-0 win over Cork City secured a first league win two weeks later. Michael Deasy netted a hat-trick with Philip Hogan and Kieran O’Sullivan also among the goals.
After Glasheen won 2-1 at Whitechurch, six wins in all competitions took the club into 1999 on a high. Two further league wins over Leeds, 1-0, and St Mary’s, 2-0, set up a Munster Senior Cup clash with Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park, Rockmount squeezed through on penalties after the teams failed to score in 110 minutes.
Ashtown Villa were Mount’s next opponents at Whitechurch in the Intermediate Cup quarter-final. A narrow 1-0 win was followed by a one-one draw with College Corinthians in the league. A 3-0 win over Fermoy in the Beamish Senior Cup at the end of February maintained Rockmount’s interest in more than one competition with the Intermediate Cup semi-final at home to Donegal’s Swilly Rovers on Sunday, March 14, the biggest game so far.
In between the semi-final and final, Casement Celtic were overcome 2-1 in the league.
Again another one-nil win set up a first-ever showdown with Dublin-based Garda, also appearing in their first final, on home turf at Turner’s Cross on Sunday, April 18.
The yellow and green-shirted outfit were attempting to become the seventh Cork club to win the cup and the first since Tramore Athletic toppled Dublin’s Bank Rovers in 1986/87.
Under the watchful eyes of local referee Christy Byrne and his team of assistants Damien O’Mahony and Alan Kelly and fourth official Tony Thompson, captain Alan Martin led Mount out to tremendous applause from the sizeable home following.
After a cagy first-half, the match burst into life with the tie’s opening goal on the hour. A superb run by Rockmount’s Alan Falvey up the left wing which took him past the tackles of four opponents ended with an inch-perfect cross which Pat Oldham skilfully directed past Garda keeper Vincent Daly. Despite falling back on defence as Garda poured forward in search of the equaliser, Martin was on hand to head Rockmount further ahead in the 76th minute after Kieran O’Shea’s shot was brilliantly parried by Daly.
Christy Byrne’s final whistle heralded scenes of unbridled joy for the 2,000 strong home support as Martin lifted the cup for the Whitechurch-based club on a historic day on Leeside. It was back to league action a month after the final as Everton were undone 1-0 at Whitechurch and Glasheen were beaten 2-1 at Glasheen Park.
By the end of May, Rockmount were crowned league champions with two matches to play as second-placed Cork City finished their programme on 41 points from 22 matches and could not catch Rockmount who had amassed 44 points from twenty played.
After 75 years in football, Rochmount finally arrived at the big table of prestigious Cork champions and in the process began a run of remarkable success in local and national football. Four years after appearing in their first Intermediate Final, Mount lost their second final in a replay to Dublin’s Belgrove.
However, wins in ‘04 over Bluebell and ’08 over Douglas Hall were inspired by the ’99 win which put the club to the forefront of Irish football.