Throwback Thursday: Cork Hibernians rounded off golden era with FAI Cup success 

50 years ago Cork Hibs lifted the FAI Cup before they feel from grace soon after
Throwback Thursday: Cork Hibernians rounded off golden era with FAI Cup success 

FAI Cup joy in 1973 for Cork Hibs. 

THE radio said 'tie a yellow ribbon around the ole oak tree' and colour television was the craze as RTÉ broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest.

The summer of sport, that would see Limerick crowned All-Ireland champions and Sam Maguire go to Offlay for the first time, was just getting started.

The GAA had just voted to remove the ban on members playing ‘foreign games’ and the news was announced at a time when Cork Hibernians were the team on Leeside.

They were at the end of their golden era, a period that would accumulate with back-to-back FAI Cup successes on their own pitch against Shelbourne on April 29 1973.

This was to be the hurrah, as they would cease to exist in just three years.

This wasn’t about some foreboding sense of doom, but the rush of a team that won everything there was to be won over a two-year spell that went from 1971-73.

It started with a 3-1 victory over Shamrock Rovers in play off for the League of Ireland title. The following year they won the Blaxnit Cup and became all-island champions. They then lifted the FAI Cup and Munster Senior Cup; which brought a cup treble to Flower Lodge.

Next up Hibernians lifted the Dublin City Cup, League of Ireland Shield, another Munster Senior Cup, and the FAI Cup.


That was the crowning glory. It came just a few months after they beat Pezoporikos in the European Cup Winners Cup, and it rounded off their trophy haul while securing their legacy.

This wasn’t because of the national glory attached to the competition, but because it was done on their own turf.

This was essentially the end, the last of the big days out as they were about to freefall into a financial crash that would be the death knell for another football club on Leeside.

The cup run was legendary, despite the defending champions going through the competition almost unnoticed as conversations surrounding Irish football at the time involved the gruelling schedule that Shamrock Rovers were going through.

The Hoops had to face Dundalk three times in the First Round, and then they played Athlone Town four times. Things got so congested that they ended up with just two days to prepare for a quarter final with Limerick. As for Cork Hibernians, they opened their FAI Cup defence with a 3-1 victory over Rialto.

Their reward was a Munster derby with Waterford and they played out a 0-0 draw in Cork. John Lawson scored twice in the replay and that put Hibernians through to the semi-final, and they were drawn at home to Limerick.

Cork Celtic were on the other side of the draw and they managed to reach the semi-finals by defeating Swilly Rovers and Bohemians. They played Shelbourne, and their first game ended in a stalemate at Dalymount Park.

Flower Lodge hosted the replay and a 2-2 draw meant they had to do it all over again in Dublin.


There was to be no all-Cork final as Celtic lost 1-0 at Dalymount Park, with Ben Hannigan scoring the goal to send Shelbourne through to their first FAI Cup final since 1963. John Lawson got on the score sheet once again in the other semi-final, and Gerry Coyne made sure that Hibs got the result.

Dalymount Park hosted the final and the two teams drew 0-0, meaning a replay would decide the destination of the FAI Cup.

The second game was held on April 29 1973 and only 11,000 people turned up at a rainy Flower Lodge.

The Cork Hibernians team who beat Shelbourne in the replay of the FAI Cup final at Flower Lodge. 
The Cork Hibernians team who beat Shelbourne in the replay of the FAI Cup final at Flower Lodge. 

The Shelbourne team that travelled down was ravaged by injuries following a recent game against Finn Harps in Donegal.

“We were plagued with injuries following that league game,” said manager Gary Doyle.

“We lost Paddy Dunning; Billy Newman had to go up to Bobby McGregor in Belfast for treatment and Tony McDonnell and Paul McNaughton had to take tests before the replay.”

The final was a special occasion for Denis Allen, who came into the team after Miah Dennehy transferred to Nottingham Forest before the cup started.

Noel O’Mahony had a similar reason to cherish the occasion as his brother, Declan, started the final in goal. Carl Humphries scored in the 83rd minute and Hibs hung on to win the cup at Flower Lodge.

Carl Humphries and Denis Allen celebrate the winning goal. Also included is Sonny Sweeney 
Carl Humphries and Denis Allen celebrate the winning goal. Also included is Sonny Sweeney 

While hindsight shows that this was the end of an era, the atmosphere was a little diluted once the trophy was lifted over outside factors.

“We had won everything in the space of a few seasons and the crowd had become too used to success,” said Noel O’Mahony.

“The place to win the cup was in Dalymount Park.”

Whatever about the final, Hibs created a legacy that transcends nostalgia and defines an entire period for Cork and its sporting history.

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