Business League Dream Team: Picking the 11 best players from 70 years of action

Finbarr Buckley selects an All-Star line-up across every era of the Business League
Business League Dream Team: Picking the 11 best players from 70 years of action

The BL representative team who narrowly lost one-nil to the MSL in June 1982. Back): Timmy Murphy (Byrnes), Mick O'Driscoll (AIB), Steve O'Donoghue (WF Rational), Derry Hartnett (Postal Workers), Peter Gregson (CIE Ath), Tommy Searls (Youghal Yarns A), Laurence Owens (Roches Stores), Liam Mulcahy (WF Rational), J Murphy (Ridge Tools) Pat Collins (Byrnes), Mick Mooney (BL sec). Front: Jackie O'Driscoll (BL registrar), Mick Glennon (BL treasurer), Danny O'Leary (Bank of Ireland), Jim McCarthy (Fords A), Kevin Cannon (Aer Lingus), Harry Speight (Byrnes, c), Charlie Daly (OLH Utd), Pat Downey (CIE Ath), M McCarthy (Fords A) manager.

EVERY league has a ‘Dream Team’ of top performers. From 70 years of football, Cork Business PRO Finbarr Buckley, attempts, through interviews with former players, managers and supporters, to answer the contentious question of who would be selected to represent the best starting 11.

Goalkeeper: 

Peter Gregson (CIE Athletic), Tom Archer (Postal Workers), Aidan Holland (Aer Lingus/CIE United), Padraig Morris (Marlboro Trust).

Selected: Peter Gregson. The former Blackpool, Southport, Cork Celtic and Cork Hibernians number one was the last line of defence for the successful Athletic team of the late '70s and early '80s going on to manage the team to their final league success in 1989/90. 

His towering displays for the representative team in victories of the Cork Youths, Cork AUL and MSL U23s in the Wembley Tournament of 1981 confirmed his standing as the best goalkeeper in the city at that time.

Right Full-Back: 

Kevin Cannon (Aer Lingus), Connie Hosford (Youghal Yarns), Con O’Callaghan (Postal Workers), Henry O’Connor (CIE Ath).

Selected: Kevin Cannon. Cannon was as composed a defender as one would find anywhere, possessing excellent ball control in tight situations.

Left Full-Back: 

Jimmy Kelly (Dunlops), Charlie O’Mahony (Cork Examiner), John Barry (Denny’s), Michael Meighan (Cork Airport/EMC).

Selected: Michael Meighan. The versatile defender came out on top ahead of the more experienced Kelly and O’Mahony by virtue of the consistency of his performances which contributed hugely to his team’s successes in the noughties.

Central Defender: 

Patsy Dorgan (Aer Lingus), Noel Kelleher (CIE Ath), Finbarr O’Brien (Roches Stores), Frank Drummond (Cork Examiner).

Selected: Noel Kelleher. The classy defender was part of Athletic’s three-in-a-row winning team of 1968/69, going on to be a mainstay in the team right through to the middle '80s representing the league in numerous Oscar Traynor competitions.

Central Defender: 

Denis Coleman (Lunhams), Harry Speight (Byrnes), Rory O’Connor (Cara Partners), Cathal Doherty (UCC Utd).

Selected: Harry Speight. A reliable man-marker who developed a fine understanding with Noel Kelleher in representative matches and capable of scoring vital goals from set-pieces in a career which spanned over 20 years.

Centre Midfield: 

Michael Warner (Cork Harbour Commissioners), Billy Falvey (Cork Shoe Co/Roches Stores ), Derry Hartnett and Pat Lester (Postal Workers), Declan O’Riordan (OLH Utd).

Selected: Derry Hartnett. Regarded as The Workers' finest player, Derry was the driving force in the team's rise to prominence in the '80s getting the nod ahead of stylish ball players, '50s star Mick Warner and '70s equivalent Billy Falvey.

Right Midfield: 

Bobby Humphries (Fords), Noel Bradley (Aer Lingus), Lawrence Owens (Roches Stores), Tommy Searls (Youghal Yarns), Tom Frawley (MCM/Marlboro Trust).

Selected: Tommy Searls. The Yarns’ play-maker was capable of playing right across the middle going on to display his undoubted class with Crofton Celtic in the top layer of the MSL following a fine career with the Killacloyne side.

Left Midfield: 

Jim Atkins (Youghal Yarns), Gerry McCarthy (Lunhams), John Good (Fords), John McGrath (Postal Workers).

Selected: John McGrath. In a position once again full of excellent footballers, McGrath gets the accolade following a string of outstanding performances for the Workers in the late '70s and throughout the '80s.

Centre Forward: 

Brendan Mulcahy (Fords), Dave O’Donoghue (OLH Utd), Dermot McAuliffe (Pfizers), Greg Cooney (Youghal Yarns), Stuart Howard (Cork Airport/EMC), Tony O’Reilly (Doolan’s Cow).

Selected: Brendan Mulcahy. The Fords’ talisman was frequently among the goals in all of his team’s trophy successes despite strong opposition from his fellow nominees.

Right Wing: 

Alfie Davis (True Temper/CSO Celtic), Danny O’Leary (Bank of Ireland), Charlie Daly (OLH Utd), Aidan O’Halloran (Naval Services).

Selected: Alfie Davis. Was the driving force behind Temper’s 1977 Byrne Cup success, the striker used his electrifying pace to maximum effect in scoring many memorable goals.

Left Wing: 

Tony Wall (Guys), John Reid (Postal Workers), Don Bevan (Cork Examiner), Dommie Murphy (CIE Athletic), Jamie Murphy (Doolan’s Cow).

Selected: John Reid. An interesting mix of players ended up a close run between the five with record medal holder Reid edging out Doolan’s formidable marksman, Jamie Murphy.

Finally, the debate on who should and should not make the League’s finest 11 will rage on whenever past players are remembered in public houses throughout the length and breadth of Cork city. 

But one thing is for sure, the above team would be a match for any opposition in any era!

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