City Business league soccer teams came of age in the 1960s

CBL will celebrate its 70th season across the next campaign
City Business league soccer teams came of age in the 1960s

Guys FC (League Winners 1959/60): L to R (Back): Derry Connolly (committee), John Morrissey, Brian O’Callaghan, Mossie Crean, Jimmy Deasy, Michael O’Sullivan, Tony Wall, John Murphy, Dan Ring (committee). L to R (Front): Sean Burns, Joe O’Keeffe (Jonathan Rhys Myers’ grandfather), Joe Kelleher (chairman), Tom Foley (capt.), Meredith Talbot (secretary), Ned Byrne, Ritchie O’Connell. (pic: Courtesy Dan O’Leary)

THE Cork Business League embarks on its historic 70th campaign next season, 2022/23, but the 1960s were its decade of change.

This was when the city teams — like the meat-processing companies of Denny’s and Lunhams, along with transport giants CIE, Ford’s, and Guys — eclipsed the harbour-based companies of Cork Harbour Commissioners, Port Workers, and Steampacket, who had originated the league in the early 1950s.

In the first campaign of the decade, Guys FC won the league title for the first and only time.

The season kicked off on Sunday, October 11, 1959, with a 4-2 win over Heaslips at Marina Park. Flying left-winger Tony Wall bagged two, with captain Tom Foley and Ned Byrne also scoring.

Two successive defeats followed to Murphy’s Brewery (6-1) and Steampacket (1-0), before goals from Foley, Wall, Joe O’Keeffe, Dan Ring, and Byrne steadied the ship against ESB Marina on November 1.

Two weeks later, Lunhams inflicted another defeat at Blackpool Park, winning 1-0 in a bruising encounter.

A purple patch followed in the run-in to Christmas, with wins over Fordson’s (2-1), Esso-Shell (4-0), Lunhams (3-2), Murphy’s Brewery (2-1), and Steampacket (3-2). The victories elevated the rampant Guys outfit to the top of the table for the first time.

A 0-0 draw with second-placed Postal Workers set the scene for a titanic final quarter of the season between the two rivals.

The Workers handed out a moral blow to Guys with a 2-1 cup win in mid-April. Super Sunday (April 19, 1960), saw Guys beat Esso-Shell 2-1, while the Postal came from behind to defeat ESB Marina by the same score.

The final match of the season pitted Guys against 1957/58 champions, Postal Workers, at Marina Park on Sunday, May 1. A Mick Mooney-inspired Postal led from the ninth minute, only for Michael O’Sullivan to head in at the far post in the 88th minute, to rescue a draw.

O’Sullivan and Wall scored the crucial goals in the play-off a week later to claim the title with a 2-1 win.

Former player Dan O’Leary recalls the deciding matches, “The league win was particularly satisfying, as we beat Postal Workers after a replay.

Fords (League Champions and Cup Runners-up 1967/68). 
Fords (League Champions and Cup Runners-up 1967/68). 

“What I remember most of the replay itself was that it was played in a downpour, following the glorious weather of the first game.

“Both teams defied the elements to provide a classic. Boy, did our supporters enjoy that victory, when we entered the history books for the first time.” The tide of change continued with league-and-cup doubles for Lunhams and Fords in 1961/62 and 1962/63, before Denny’s repeated the feat in 1966/67.

In the same season, Dunlops battled through to the fifth round of the FAI Junior Cup with wins over Ford’s (3-1), CIE (5-2) and St Mary’s (2-1), only to lose 1-0 to Albert Rovers.

Captain Tony O’Neill, Eddie Quinlan, John Barry, Pat Cummins, and Dave Keating were prominent in Denny’s’ double triumph over Postal Workers, in the league, and Dunlops, in the cup.


The league-management committee entered the Oscar Traynor Trophy competition for the first time. A morale-boosting 4-1 win over the holders, Cork AUL , at Turner’s Cross, was followed by a 5-2 defeat to the Galway District League.

Ford’s ended the decade — in 1967/68 — with a fourth league success and qualified for the Cork area of the FAI Junior Cup. Ballinlough were beaten 5-2 in the first round on Sunday, October 10, 1967.

A month later, Southgate were put to the sword, 5-3, at Marina, before Wembley fared no better at the same venue on December 9, going down 4-0 to the in-form hosts.

In the Cork Area final on February 17, 1968, Albert Rovers progressed 2-1 in an entertaining encounter to end the Tractor Boys’ interest in the competition.

The representative team advanced to the semi-final of the Oscar Traynor competition with impressive 4-1 wins over their Tipperary and Kilkenny counterparts and a 2-1 triumph over the Leinster Senior League. However, a solid Limerick District League were not to be denied in the last four, winning 4-1 at Turner’s Cross.

CIE Athletic was founded by Jackie Carroll, Steve Murphy, Larry Murtagh, and Paddy Gilley. In their first season, (1964/65), the club won the league and shield. After winning the cup in 1965/66 and 1967/68, following victories over Lunhams and Ford’s, Athletic went through the 1968/69 domestic season unbeaten, becoming the first team to win the treble and be justifiably called the first of the great teams.

The bus and railwaymen captured their third shield in five seasons at Marina Park on March 9, 1969 against Spinning Company. Tommy Murphy (2) and Donal O’Leary cancelled out Pat Lynch’s penalty opener for Spinning Co, before Noel Kelleher added a fourth in the second 45.

In the cup final against Ford’s at Turner’s Cross on Friday, May 23, Tommy Murphy broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute and added a second on the hour to guarantee Athletic’s second trophy of the season.

A 4-1 win over the same opposition on the Sunday sealed the treble and what a way to finish a season, unbeaten in Business League competition, scoring a whopping 118 goals, and conceding just 21…a truly momentous achievement!

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