Ray Cowhie: Superb footballer, singer and family man

Turner's Cross native excelled in the League of Ireland for Evergreen, Cork Celtic and Cork Hibs
Ray Cowhie: Superb footballer, singer and family man

Action between Cork Celtic and Cork Hibernians at Turner's Cross in 1965, included are Pat O'Mahony, Johnny Clifford, Ray Cowhie.

HE played at the top level of football in the country for almost two decades, experienced magical moments at Flower Lodge, and could have gone further in the game but instead opted to stay in Ireland with the love of his life Cara.

A decision Ray Cowhie will never regret, as 59 years married this year, he smiles each time he mentions her name and looks back on a life where he juggled family, sport, music and business.

The 86-year-old from Turner’s Cross had many talents.

A superb footballer, singer, businessman and more importantly a family man. The father of three grew up in Turner’s Cross, where he still resides today with his beloved Cara.

Ray Cowhie with his wife Cara.
Ray Cowhie with his wife Cara.

Sport became a huge part of his life from an early age and Cowhie’s talents shone through at all age levels.

Known as ‘the ballet dancer’ while playing, the full-back was widely known for the way he jumped up to head a ball and while doing so, he left the leg out which would catch you on the way down. His talent and toughness were evident from early on.

He started his career with Tower Rovers where he became a prolific winner at schoolboy and minor.

Then moved to Cork Celtic in 1954. He later moved to Cork Hibs where he remained until 1971. He also captained Scoil Chríost Rí to win an U14 football title.

He signed for Evergreen in the League of Ireland in 1955 along with players such as Austin Noonan and Mick O’Keeffe and went on to win Three Top Four trophies with Evergreen and Cork Celtic when they changed name.

The Cork Celtic team pictured at Turners Cross in 1960. Back: Con Buckley, Donal Leahy, Bobby Brohan, Donal O'Leary, Ray Cowhie, Mick O'Keefe. Front: Charlie O'Mahony, Frank McCarthy, John Coughlin, Austin Noonan, Paul O'Donovan.
The Cork Celtic team pictured at Turners Cross in 1960. Back: Con Buckley, Donal Leahy, Bobby Brohan, Donal O'Leary, Ray Cowhie, Mick O'Keefe. Front: Charlie O'Mahony, Frank McCarthy, John Coughlin, Austin Noonan, Paul O'Donovan.

The Top Four Cup was an end-of-season super cup competition featuring the four highest-placed teams in the League of Ireland, first held in 1956 and last played for in 1974.

Ray was offered trials with English clubs such as West Ham and Sunderland but opted to stay in Ireland where he could be with Cara, where he went on to raise a family of three, five grandchildren and they set up a holiday home in Roscarberry where they spent the best part of over 40 years.

Ray’s greatest achievement was playing in the cup final in ‘64 in a packed Dalymount Park against Shamrock Rovers. He enjoyed many years playing with great players such as Donie Leahy, Austin Noonan, Jackie Morley, Pat O’Mahony, Karl Davenport, Dave Wigginton, Kevin Blount, John Coughlan Mick O’Keefe, Mick Millington, George Lynham, Connie Buckley and Bobby Brohan.

One of Cowhie’s biggest compliments was from former Shels star Ben Hannigan who quoted Cowhie as his toughest-ever opponent.

Cowhie’s talent lead him to being capped at senior level. He played in the League of Ireland XI which featured the top players from all the clubs at the time and went on to play against England and Scotland. A huge achievement for Cowhie came when playing against future World Cup winners from England’s 1966 team.

He later transferred to Cork Hibs and won a shield medal but after nearly 18 years of playing at the top level, he decided to retire.

It didn’t stop him from wanting to be still on the pitch and he later signed for local side Greenmount Rangers in 1974 helping his side reach the quarter-final of the FAI junior cup.

As sport came to an end for Cowhie, he then focused his time on watching his son Kevin star for Nemo and Cork. Kevin landed numerous county titles with Nemo at minor, U21 and senior level and he also captained Cork U21s in ‘92 which Ray was very proud of.

Brian Hurley looking on as Nemo's Kevin Cowhie passes out the ball. Picture: Richard Mills.
Brian Hurley looking on as Nemo's Kevin Cowhie passes out the ball. Picture: Richard Mills.

Also, after finishing up playing, another of his talents came to the forefront. He joined Turner’s Cross choir and spent the next 35 years there, becoming the longest-serving member.

He also started a courier business, Cowhie transport. So life was pretty hectic but he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

A supporter of Liverpool and Cork City, the 86-year-old still has a keen interest in sport and with the love and support of his family, in particular, his daughter-in-law Alison, Cowhie and his wife continue to lead a happy life, and long may it continue.

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