Cork Hibs and Greenmount mourn loss of Matthew O'Donovan

O'Donovan was an elegant midfielder for Hibs before committing four decades to Greenmount in a variety of roles
Cork Hibs and Greenmount mourn loss of Matthew O'Donovan

Cork Hibs team that defeated Cork Celtic 3-0 in the Munster Senior Cup final in 1973. Back: Carl Humphreys, Matthew O'Donovan, John McKenna, Declan O'Mahony, Pat Kirby, John Brohan. Front: John Lawson, Martin Sheehan, Dave Wiggington, Jerry Finnegan, Dave Kirby.

FORMER Cork Hibs midfielder Matthew O'Donovan passed away after a brief illness at Cork University Hospital. 

His death will come as a great shock to his large circle of friends and supporters.

Matthew kick-started his extended career on the old schoolboy pitch in Togher. Coming from a family steeped in local sports history he graduated from that bumpy ground to play in some of Europe’s top stadiums. 

During his schooldays, Togher was his Wembley Stadium and in the '60s, a glorious decade for underage soccer in Cork, he contributed greatly to the regular successes of Everton AFC. 

In 1956 the Management Committee of the defunct Cork Motor Traders League presented a beautiful perpetual trophy to be awarded annually to the boy whose all-round performance attained the highest standard in ability, integrity and sportsmanship. The inaugural award winner was the great Noel O’Mahony and it was every boy's dream to be good enough to follow that star. 

In 1968 that dream came true for Matthew when he brought the coveted trophy home where it was placed on the sideboard next to his dad’s FAI Junior Cup medal won as a member of Evergreen, the first Cork team to achieve that honour in 1936.

An elegant midfielder, he went on to play in consecutive seasons with the Cork AUL Youths Inter League team which he captained in his second season. 

He was signed for Cork Hibs by Dave Bacuzzi and made his competitive debut on the team which defeated Bohs at Dalymount in September 1970. Matt became the utility player with the outstanding Hibs squad which dominated the early seventies in League of Ireland soccer. A very energetic, disciplined defensive midfielder he was regularly deployed by Bacuzzi for European games and featured in the home and away ties in Fairs Cup and Euro Cup Winners Cup matches against Valencia (Spain), Pezoporikos (Larnaca) and Schalke 04 (Gelsinkershin).

 Former Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn with Michael Russell, author and former players Martin Heffernan, Martin Sheehan, Joe O'Grady and Matthew O'Donovan at the launch of Hibs! A History of Cork Hibernians FC 1956-1976. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Former Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn with Michael Russell, author and former players Martin Heffernan, Martin Sheehan, Joe O'Grady and Matthew O'Donovan at the launch of Hibs! A History of Cork Hibernians FC 1956-1976. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

With the glamour days of League of Ireland football a thing of the past he returned briefly to his former club Everton before joining the newly founded AUL side, Barrack Rovers. 

From Barrack, he moved to Greenmount Rangers to commence a 42-year love affair. During the last four decades with his beloved Greenmount he has filled every role imaginable from chairman/treasurer to kit man; his hands-on approach and presence on committees are among the main reasons that the club still continues to compete.

Undoubtedly, their greatest ever signing he was there through good times and bad times and was the driving force as the club, having experienced the ecstasy, was striving to overcome the agony.

Never seeking the limelight his contribution was often invisible but it was recognised by the AUL in 2012 when they bestowed on him an award for Distinguished Service to Cork soccer. 

It was a fitting honour for a sportsman who loved the game. May he rest in peace.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more