IN the 70 years of the Cork Business League’s existence, many teams have left an indelible mark on the fabric of the league by virtue of the various characters contained in the teams and the success they enjoyed throughout their existence.
In the acknowledged glory years of the mid-'70s and early-'80s when the league was at the height of its popularity, no team with the exception of Postal Workers, contained an array of gifted individuals and skilled performers who continually competed at the top table with huge success, than Youghal Carpet Yarns.
Players of the calibre of Dave ‘Badger’ Barrett, Jim Atkins, Walter McCarthy, the late and much loved Bernard ‘Bones’ O’Sullivan, Connie Hosford and later on Davie O’Mahony, Denis Crowley and Greg Cooney, lit up the playing pitches of Killacloyne, Blackpool Park, Hickey Park and Pfizer Park with constant regularity. Indeed, such was the team’s standing in the league in the early 80’s that the Carpets’ instantly recognisable orange jersey with its yarn logo and black shorts and socks was selected by the BL management committee of sec Mick Mooney, chair Jackie Carroll, registrar Jackie O’Driscoll and treasurer Mick Glennon for the league’s representative team in their memorable Wembley Tournament over the Munster Senior League U23s in June 1981.
Founded in 1971, Carpets sought membership to the BL on August 23rd of the same year and became the second carpet weaving company alongside Kincora Carpets to join what was becoming an expanding league. After their opening match against Olympic was postponed due to weather conditions with the score at 0-0, Youghal got off the mark two weeks later with a 1-0 win over Doyles at Southern Park. This was followed by a first shield success after wins over Postal Workers (3-1), Fords (3-2), True Temper (4-1), Lunhams (6-1), Doyles (4-0) and CIE (3-2) led to a 2-1 win over league champions Postal Workers in the final. Incredibly, the victory was only a taste of things to come as the Killacloyne outfit lifted the league and cup double in '73-'74, becoming only the fifth team to have achieved the feat up until then.
Notably, victories in the league triumph included wins over CIE (3-0), Olympic (6-1), Aer Lingus (6-5), Fords (3-2) and Postal (3-2) before the cup campaign began the cup campaign got underway with an impressive 4-0 win over Sunbeam at Rangers Park on Saturday, April 20 1974. A 2-0 win over Doyles in the last four was followed by a narrow 1-0 win over Postal in the semi-final. A week before the cup final was played, a first league title was secured with a 3-0 win over True Temper.
Not for the first time, Lunhams’ failed to produce their best form when it mattered most, in the cup final. But, take nothing away for Youghal’s 1-0 win on the day, Jimmy Burns heading the winner in the 89th minute, heralding the arrival of the first great Carpets’ squad.
Further honours made their way east before the decade’s end with shield successes in '76 and '77 followed by a second cup triumph also in '77. The firm’s second string, Youghal B made it a treble by winning the second division championship in the same season. A year later, another top-flight success capped a very satisfactory first decade of football at work.
Two trophyless seasons followed in '79 and '80 but Carpets got back on track in the spring of 1981 with the Byrne Cup (now Premier Cup) added to the trophy cabinet for the first time after a revenge win over CIE following the shield final loss earlier in the campaign. Third Division Ridge Tools were next to attempt to wrestle the cup from going east again in 1982. Despite a spirited performance by the underdogs, Carpets proved too strong up front, winning 4-2 at the Showgrounds.
After the Workers wiped the boards for the remainder of the eighties, Youghal were not to be eclipsed, surpassing their great rivals by taking all four domestic honours in '93. The Shield campaign off to a flyer on September 6 1992 with a 6-1 win over McSweeney’s at Killacloyne. By the end of October, Carpets reached the last four, having accounted for Old Mill (3-1), O’Driscoll’s (7-0) , Roches Stores (4-0), OLH Utd. (4-2) and Postal (2-1). Yarns needed a second bite at the cherry to overcome Liebert in a final replay at Pfizer Park, 3-2 on penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Youghal had only played twice in the league before the Christmas break but by the end of March had only been beaten once in nine outings by Aer Lingus. With the Mooney Cup in full swing at this juncture, Youghal rattled in 16 goals on their way to their cup final date with Garda Utd, John Bowen and Alex O’Regan among the goals for the winners.
In the first week in May Youghal’s 6-2 win over OLH, was their 11th in 12 outings, made the title win and the treble a distinct possibility. By the mid-way point in the month, Carpets finished their programme with a sparkling 4-1 over Garda. In the Premier Cup Youghal went where no team went before and made history by beating Cork Examiner 5-2 in the final on May 29 to sign off in style.
In response to my selection in last week’s copy of the best BL League XI of the last 70 years, I wish to apologize for the glaring error in not selecting former CIE and International marksman Pat Downey for the centre-forward berth.