Throwback Thursday: Record crowd at ladies’ charity soccer match in 1962

Amongst Pat Fitzgerald’s sporting memories, he tells JO KERRIGAN, was an occasion when ladies’ teams from Ringmahon and Blackrock played a charity match 60 years ago - and attracted a record attendance at the Church Road venue
Throwback Thursday: Record crowd at ladies’ charity soccer match in 1962

Ringmahon ladies, 1962. Back: Pat Hallissey, Marion Cummins, Eileen Keane, Phyl Connoly, Mona Looney, Masie Keane. Front: Betty Swanton, Mary Connolly, Betty O’Leary, Theresa Connolly, Mary Brady. Ref Joe Bray

PAT Fitzgerald’s memories of soccer games in the golden 1950s and ’60s last week in Throwback Thursday were so well received that he sent us some more.

In strong contrast to the endless planning and publicity that goes into pre-game team selection these days, it seems to have been a fairly relaxed arrangement back then, according to Pat.

“Outside the dressing pavilion before matches, selectors would be waiting to see would by chance any of their players be on the next bus.” 

(That wouldn’t have been a polished, specially-commissioned club touring bus, by the way, but the local No.10 or whatever number it was that served Church Road.)

Lack of a key player could mean instant fame - or, in this case, instant dishonour - for a local lad, as Mr Fitzgerald relates.

“If they didn’t arrive, then the next best player would probably be picked at outside left. I remember one night a team called Crusaders were down a lot of players, so they asked myself and John Brohan (who was an outstanding player with Cork Hibs in later years) could we get our boots.”

Of course, they didn’t even think of refusing. You didn’t back then, if you were a kid and they were adults.

“We both cycled home and got our boots and came back to line out for Crusaders AFC junior team. I was 14 and John was 15.”

Ah, happy days in a smaller, golden world, when you could run home for something you’d forgotten.

Once they started, though, Pat couldn’t believe it that it was actually their own club, Ringmahon, that they were playing. And worse was to come for this loyal lad.

“The game was only on about a minute when I happened to get a goal. It was an awful feeling, getting a goal against your own team. It was like scoring an own-goal!

“Anyway, word got down to my brother John who was a great player with the club (and also Hon Secretary), and he came over fairly pronto on his bike to Church Road and told me to get off the pitch. Which I duly did.

“John Brohan and I had to attend a Ringmahon meeting the next week, and were warned that if we ever played with another club against our own team, we would be suspended!”

Can’t you see the headlines in today’s papers? Crisis In Church Road! Shock, Horror, As Scoring Player Suspended!

In 1966, Pat remembers playing against the famed Glasheen team that won the FAI Minor Cup.

“They had great players like Barry McGann, Tom McGarry, and of course Peter Cox from Blackrock. Then, in 1967, I played against the Wembley team that also won the FAI Minor Cup. They had great players like Paddy Short, Paddy Long, and Paddy Lane, who was marking yours truly.

LEFT: The Blackrock ladies’ team that played Ringmahon in 1962 before a huge crowd at Church Road, a fund-raiser for the Blackrock Church.
LEFT: The Blackrock ladies’ team that played Ringmahon in 1962 before a huge crowd at Church Road, a fund-raiser for the Blackrock Church.

“During the long, hot summer nights, myself and my neighbour, Mr Corcoran, of Glandore Avenue, who was a lovely gentleman, would go to a lot of the Inter-Firm games in Church Road. The two of us were like experts, we saw so many games!

“Metal Products and Dunlops would have been the top sides, and Lunhams. You would see League Of Ireland players tog out for some of these matches.

“Two Northsiders, namely Michael ‘Baba’ Geaney and Gerry ‘Woodbines’ Courtney, signed on the dotted line for Ringmahon in the ’50s. They both played under 16 first and then graduated to minor and junior teams. They would play the minor match on Sunday morning and then junior in the afternoon. When the minor match would finish, they would come down to my house in Blackrock with my brother John and have a beautiful full Sunday roast, compliments of my mother Peggy.

“My brother, John Fitzgerald, was nicknamed Langton, and Baba and Woodbines used to say politely to my mother ‘Thanks, Mrs Langton, for the lovely meal.’”

On another occasion, recalls Pat, Ringmahon played Ballinlough up in Number Four pitch.

“Johnny Noble Leahy, that great singer friend of mine, who was a former winner of the Over Sixties, took a free kick just outside the area. Now, Johnny had a great shot with his left leg and I wouldn’t like to be a keeper to try and stop one of his daisy-cutters. 

"Anyway, this shot went high, and the ball hit the crossbar with ferocious velocity, and resulted in the crossbar splitting and falling down to the ground. The game had to be abandoned and refixed for another day.

" I don’t think Number Four pitch was ever played on again. I think perhaps it wasn’t up to FAI standards.”

A ladies’ soccer game was played in Church Road Number One pitch in 1962 between Ringmahon and Blackrock, recalls Pat.

“It was a fund-raiser for the new Blackrock Church. It attracted the biggest crowd ever to be seen at that venue and it was a great success.

“There were also matches between the married and the single as fund-raisers for the church and they drew large crowds too.”

The best teams that played in Church Road in 1961, Pat reckons, were Castleview and Ringmahon. On June 5 1961, both met in the AOH Cup final, which was played in Flower Lodge.

“I happened to make my confirmation on the same day up in the North Cathedral with the North Monastery,” says Pat, 

“When I came back to Blackrock, I went around to my neighbours to see how they were getting on (and also, let the truth be known, I was on a money-making exercise!)

“Anyway, when I got my Confirmation money, I went up to Flower Lodge to shout for my beloved Ringmahon Rangers. It was a glorious sunny day and Castleview went two up in the first ten minutes. I could hear the Ringmahon goalkeeper Michael Styler Keane shouting, ‘Anybody got a cap? I can’t see with the effin’ sun!’

“I had a lovely canvas sun cap on me and I gave it to one of the selectors to give it to Styler. Styler was delighted with it and had an absolute stormer in goal, and Ringmahon won 3-2! He kept the cap since 1961 and he gave it back to me recently with all the names of the players signed on it.

“In later years, Styler played outfield and was a very good player too. But if he didn’t receive a proper pass to his feet, then you wouldn’t hear the grass grow at that precise moment!”

Ernie Nelson, who so vividly recalled his early schooldays at Greenmount in last week’s Throwback Thursday, has sent us some interesting background detail on that establishment:

“Building on the site at Gallows Green for what I would call Old Greenmount School began in 1852. The name of the site was changed to Greenmount, so that people would not be reminded of the area’s somewhat dark history (gallows being a place where people were hanged).

“The building project was supervised by Brother Paul Townsend of the Presentation Brothers, who was a trained architect. 

"The school was built to cater for the growing population around Gallows Green. Other schools in the area had become overcrowded. When it first opened in 1855, the school was known as St Finbarr’s.”

There were two large rooms in the old school, says Ernie, one on each of two floors. “There were more than 150 children in each room, and several classes were taught in the same room. In those days, teachers were helped in their duties by senior pupils.”

The Presentation Brothers applied for formal recognition for the school as a National School in 1880, but it was refused, Ernie tells us, apparently because only a cross and harp were displayed at the front of the building.

“The absence of a royal crown was seen as disloyal to Queen Victoria. So a crown was placed over the harp, and recognition was granted.

“A short time later, though, the crown happened to fall down, and was never replaced. That old school building is now used as a community centre.”

And Clare Lynch writes to say she was delighted to see Ernie’s story last week:

“I’ve just read your article about Greenmount School on I think that nice teacher Ernie Nelson mentioned, who welcomed him on his first morning, must have been my grandfather, Michael William Murphy, who taught at Greenmount School in the 1950s.

“He was the kindest and wisest person I have ever met. I know he was loved by his pupils and many of them continued to visit him after his retirement.

“Maybe Ernie would be interested to know how pleased I was to read his story and to hear that happy memory about my grandfather.”

We are certain he will be delighted, Clare, as we are to hear from you and link up yet another couple of pieces in that colourful jigsaw of Old Cork.

Now, we mentioned recently about ‘The One Bright Spot’, in Parnell Place in Cork city, where you can stand and view all the old landmarks.

Aidan O’Mahony after being named Cork Schoolboy Player of the Year in 1972 - he talks here about his playing days, when his team was Rockmount. His father was transferred from Cork Bohs to Liverpool FC in the 30s
Aidan O’Mahony after being named Cork Schoolboy Player of the Year in 1972 - he talks here about his playing days, when his team was Rockmount. His father was transferred from Cork Bohs to Liverpool FC in the 30s

Aidan O’Mahony, originally of Dominick Street, now living in Blarney, writes to confirm that from that particular point, you can view both the Berwick Fountain and the Savoy Cinema at the same time.

“My father pointed out this nugget of information to me while I was strolling with him through town, back in the day. He was a footballer, and was transferred to Liverpool FC from Cork Bohs back in the 1930s.”

But Rockmount was Aidan’s team, “and me and my buddies honed our soccer skills kicking a ball around the Old Butter Market under Shandon Bells.

“Of course I was a Mon boy. I had the honour of being voted Cork City Soccer Schoolboy of the Year 50 years ago in 1972! And, although living in Blarney, I keep going back around that whole area where I grew up. There is still a real sense of Cork about the place.”

Aidan is still a keen Rockmount supporter, and, when we spoke, was keeping his fingers crossed for that big clash on April 24, when his honoured local team played Bluebell United. from Dublin in the Intermediate Cup Final.

“C’ mon The ‘Mount” echoed over Blarney as it had done in the streets around Shandon for generations.” (That game, incidentally, ended in a draw.)

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