CORK captured the Kennedy Cup for the first time in 33 years this season and the 2022 players joined a prestigious group of teams as a result.
Cork first tasted Kennedy Cup success when they defeated Dublin 3-2 after extra-time at Farranlea Road in Cork in 1977 in only the second year of the competition's existence.
Having fallen at the last hurdle to Dublin in the inaugural Kennedy Cup in 1976, manager Tony Murphy won the prestigious silverware with his '77 side 12 months later.
A nine-year wait followed for more Kennedy Cup honours and on that occasion, Roy Keane was on hand to captain Cork to a memorable victory. The '86 team, managed by Ger Delaney and coached by Liam O’Brien, scored 10 goals in the two-legged final against Offaly having previously beaten rivals Dublin in the semis.
Cork defeated Dublin again in the semi-finals in 1989. Fittingly, the team that lost to Cork in the final this year was the same county that lost in the '89 final to Cork at Dalymount prior to the FAI Cup final. Waterford gave a great account of themselves then in a tight and entertaining final that ended 2-1 in favour of Cork and the final itself acted as a precursor of sorts for the final of 2022.
Confidence was high going into this year’s tournament after Robin O’Day and his management team oversaw a season of ample preparation.
The victorious manager oversaw a top-of-the-table finish in Group 5 at the expense of Cavan/Monaghan, Roscommon and Limerick Desmond before knock-out victories over Donegal and Wexford ultimately set up a place in the final against Waterford.
Eoin Looney was on hand to win the Golden Boot accolade after scoring six goals. The Mallow United youngster shared the crown with Dara Brennan (Midlands), Tim Sweeney (West Cork), and Galway’s Colin Doyle and Jack Sweeney.
Looney’s goals proved to be the difference both in the quarter-final against Donegal and in the semis versus Wexford. The striker had previously kickstarted the 2022 Kennedy Cup campaign by scoring a hat-trick against Cavan/Monaghan with Leeside’s Ryan Dineen, Tramore Athletic’s Darragh Lynch and clubmate Colin Healy also finding the net on day one.
Looney, Lynch and Midleton’s Cormac Deane got on the scoresheet on day two when Cork beat Roscommon 3-0. In Cork’s final group game, goals from Lynch and Healy were enough for a 2-1 victory at the expense of Limerick Desmond.
Lynch was on hand to bag both a brace in the final and the man of the match award with Looney and Douglas Hall’s Jamie Horgan providing the all-important assists.
As a result, O’Day’s class of '22 joined the talented teams of yesteryear.
Christy Keating, Sean Madden, Brian Fleming, Brendan Lucey, Donal O’Callaghan, Gavin O’Sullivan, Kieran O’Callaghan, Pat Crowley, Sean Barry Murphy, Martin Neiland, Tony Coade, Pat Walsh, Louis Walsh, Dave Walsh.
J Glacken, B O’Sullivan, P McCarthy, L Downey, L Jeffers, J Cullimore, J Breen, T Cragoe. Front: P Coughlan, A O’Sullivan, D Martin, R McSweeny, R Keane, J Hickey, A Connaughton, T O’Keeffe.
Ken Touhy, Colin O’Brien, Conor O’Driscoll, Anthony Connolly, John O’Sullivan, Greg Dermody, Sidney Kennedy, Mark Sheehan, Roy O‘Brien, Norman Forsythe, Gareth Cronin, Mark O’Driscoll, James Daly, John Hurley, Jamie Lennon, John Crowley, Paul McCarthy.
Manager: Tony Connolly.
Rory Cullinane, Ross O’Herlihy, Luke McDonnell, Jamie Horgan, Matthew Dowling, Matthew Kiernan, Ryan Dineen, David O’Connell, Cormac Deane, Eoin Looney, Darragh Lynch, Adam Lee, Scott O’Sullivan, Lewis Linehan, Colin Healy, Liam Cregan, Eoghan Hogan, Ben Fitzgerald, Aaron O’Mahony, Shane Murtagh.