Season in the Sun in 1981! – Cork Business League Nostalgia Feature

 ✍? Finbarr Buckley

? Finbarr Buckley

Cork Business League XI ( 2-0 winners over Cork AUL, Flower Lodge, Thurs. June 25th 1981):

L to R (Back): Frank McCarthy (Fords) manager, Laurence Owens (Roches Stores), Brendan O’Keeffe (Fords), Derry Hartnett (Postal Wkrs.), Tommy Searls (Youghal Yarns ‘A’), Harry Speight (Byrnes) (capt.), Peter Gregson (CIE Ath.), Sean O’Donighue (WF Rational).

L to R (Front): Kevin Cannon (Aer Lingus), Jerry Browne (Postal Wkrs.), Pat Downey (CIE Ath.), Noel Kelleher (do), Tony O’Leary (Fords), Billy O’Mahony (Lunhams).


OF the 67 seasons the CBSL has competed in, no one has encapsulated the depth of talent which the league contained than it’s 29th campaign of 1980/81. The big four of Postal Workers (First Division League),  an emerging Cork Examiner (Mooney Cup), CIE Ath. (Shield ) and Youghal Yarns (Byrne Cup) produced an array of talented individuals who came together at the end of the season to display their wares  in the Wembley Tournament in aid of the Middle Pariah along with the then cream of local soccer, The MSL U-23’s, Cork AUL and Cork Youth League.

Postal became the first team to win three top flight titles in-a-row when they edged out CIE 1-0 in a play-off at Rockmount Pk. after both teams finished level on points. In another winner takes all contest , this time to stay in the top division, Lunhams sent AIB down when they won 3-2 at Bishopstown Community School. Byrnes and Cork Examiner gained promotion from division two but Examiner would  later turn the tables on their opponents by  winning the Mooney Cup for the first time in a 1-0 win at Hickey Pk. on Sunday, June 1st. Examiner knocked-out Examiner Utd. (6-1), Roches Stores (3-1), Youghal Yarns ‘A’ (3-2) and Lunhams (5-0) before Kevin Hayes’s 42nd minute headed  winner sealed the final.

CIE retained the shield by beating Youghal ‘A’ 1-0, Pat Downey scoring the only in the 58th minute, having won it for the first time the year before by overcoming Carpets’ counterparts Youghal ‘B’ leaving the ‘A’ team to gain revenge by winning the Byrne Cup for the first time later in the campaign and denying Athletic a treble of successes in that competition.

Goals from Denis O’Sullivan, Martin Cremin and Harry Speight helped Byrnes clinch the Second Division title following a 3-0 win over Bank of Ireland leaving Penn Chemicals to see off WF Rational for the Third Division crown.

And so, to the end of season invitational Wembley tournament which pitted the SL against the Cork Youth League at Old Rockmount Pk. on Tuesday, June 9th in one semi-final with the fancied MSL U-23’s facing up to the Cork AUL in the other side of the four-team competition. The Youths lined up with four of the successful Tramore Athletic FAI Youths Cup winning team of the following season, 1981/82, namely, Dave O’Connor, Kieran Murphy, Micky O’Sullivan and Tony Neiland, but were dismantled by two second-half goals from Downey to finish on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat.

After the MSL U-23 X1 had eliminated the Cork AUL 1-0, courtesy of a late penalty, the winners met in the final at the Mardyke on Wednesday, June 17th 1981. Pat Downey has fond memories of the game. ‘I can still picture the MSL coming out in brand new gear and we trying to warm up in Youghal’s (Carpets) gear’. On a superbly manicured pitch, the Shipping League opened their celebrated opponents up at will in the opening 45 with ‘player-of-the-tournament’ UCC keeper Kieran Buckley producing a number of memorable  saves to deny Downey and Fords’ Brendie O’Keeffe on the stroke of half-time.

The MSL, the tournament favourites, put their lethargic first-half display  behind them and bombarded former Southport, Blackpool, Cork Hibernians and Cork Celtic keeper Peter Gregson and his heroic defence  with waves of sustained attacks . Downey again picks up the action.’ Gregson was outstanding, with nothing getting past Noel Kelleher and Harry Speight’ .With leas than ten minutes remaining, the CIE marksman finally broke the deadlock when he exploded into action with another double strike to bring his total to four in the two games.

Downey, the tournament’s most valuable player saw for himself the impact the win had on the league’s administrators. ‘ The SL committee of the two Jackie’s, Carroll and O’Driscoll and Mick Mooney were beaming after the match.’  ‘All the MSL committee were there in their blazers which made the victory so special for our committee.’

On Thursday, June 25th the AUL challenged the SL at Flower Lodge in a benefit for Martin Curtin of Fords who broke his leg earlier in the season. While the AUL had an opportunity to beat the recent tournament winners, the SL looked to make it a hat-trick of successes over the cream of Cork  soccer. The sun certainly shone in favour of the underdogs who scored twice in the second 45 through Downey and Tommy Searls to rightfully claim the mantle of kings of Cork soccer in the summer of 81!

Munster Senior League U-23 X1 : Kieran Buckley (UCC): Frank Drummond (Tramore Ath.), Terry  O’Shea (Rockmount); Bernard  Murphy (do) (RIP), Mick O’Keeffe (Crosshaven); Barry Neiland (Wembley) (capt.) (Mattie Murphy (Tramore Ath.)), Myles O’Neill (Crofton Celtic), John  Mulcahy (Crosshaven ), Michael Long (Wembley), Martin  Lyons (Ringmahon Rangers), Gerry Collins (Avondale Utd.)  Subs : Michael Lyons (UCC), Donal O’Donovan (Crosshaven), Gerry McAnnany (Albert Rovs.)

Cork & District Shipping League X1 : Peter Gregson (CIE Ath.):  Kevin Cannon (Aer Lingus), Jerry Browne (Postal Wkrs.); Harry Speight (Byrnes) (capt.), Noel Kelleher (CIE Ath.); Tommy Searls (Youghal Yarns ‘A’), Tony O’Leary (Fords), Michael Feehan (Byrnes); Brendan O’Keeffe (Fords), Jim Atkins (Youghal Yarns ‘A’), Pat Downey (CIE Ath.)  Subs.: Pat Quirke (Fords), Derry Hartnett (Postal Wkrs.), Stephen O’Donoghue (WF Rational), Laurence Owens (Roches Stores)

Referee : Mr. Eamonn Fitzgerald. Assists.: John  Bird and Finbarr O’Sullivan.

Cork Examiner (Mooney Cup Winners 1980/81) :

L to R (Back) : Brendan Sisk (assist. referee), Noel O’Connell, John Clifford, Michael O’Mahony, Pat Broderick, Don Bevan, Kevin Hayes, Dave Cronin, Kevin Smith, Michael John Courtney (committee), Sammy Spillane (referee).

L to R (Front): Denis Murphy (assist referee), Frank Linehan (manager), Der O’Mahony, Pat Hawkes, Pat Dorgan, Pat O’Callaghan, Dave Ahern, Tony Stokes, Sinead Stokes, Ken O’Callaghan.