This season marks the 65th competition of the blue ribbon trophy of the league’s calendar, the Mick Mooney Cup, writes Finbarr Buckley.
Only eight teams competed in the first competition of the then named Shipping League Cup back in 1953/54 which was won by Dwyers who defeated Steampacket 2-1. Postal Workers, who would go on to win nine cups, became the first team to win back to back finals in 1958/59 and 1959/60 following wins over Irish Steel (2-1) and ESB Marina (3-2). The latter half of the sixties belonged almost exclusively to CIE Athletic who competed in six finals in seven seasons, winning five, beginning with the 2-0 win over Lunhams in the World Cup year of 1965/66. After Denny’s overcame Dunlops in ’67, 1-0, CIE defeated arch rivals Fords in the next two finals before doing likewise to Cork Shoe Co. in ’70 and ’71.
Doyles Stevedores deprived Athletic of making it five in-a-row in 1972 and for the remainder of the seventies three clubs, namely, Fords, Youghal Yarns ‘A’ and Postal Workers would dominate before the eighties would herald the emergence of Our Lady’s Hospital Utd. and the two main banking institutions Bank of Ireland and AIB. OLH would have to experience defeats in consecutive finals before they would need a replay to defeat the Workers, one-nil with a goal from Donal Cronin in the 1987 decider.
Bank of Ireland and AIB’s successes were indeed against the odds as BOL, as a second division team at the time, shocked the Workers, one-nil, at the Farm on 1983 with a goal from Tomás Maher set up by Danny O’Leary five minutes from time. Two years later, at the Showgrounds, AIB, whose sponsorship of the trophy in the year of Cork 800, 1985, would be lavishly rewarded by the team’s stunning four-nil win over OLH courtesy of a brace each from Paudie Dennehy and Pat Ryan. Postal sealed their only treble in 1987/88 by defeating Cork Examiner while Examiner themselves would have better days three seasons later when they completed the elusive treble in 1990/91 following a three-nil win over Roches Stores at Turner’s Cross.
Examiner made it a historic double double of league and cup in 1991/92 before handing over the mantle to Youghal Yarns who themselves became the first team to win all four domestic trophies in the one season in 1992/93, their cup triumph coming at the expense of Garda Utd., two-nil. Greg Cooney and Alex O’Regan registered the goals for the quadruple winners. New clubs to inscribe their names on the cup included Liebert in 1990 and 1994, at the expense of AIB, after a replay, and ESB, Roches Stores in 1996, Naval Services in 1997 and Cara Partners in 1999.
The millennium would see the introduction of a new trophy in 2002, won by Cork Plastics who needed a replay and a Pat Walsh goal to overcome Motorola. After the controversy of the Roches Stores/Postal Workers decider of 2003 in which six players were dismissed in the first match at Turner’s Cross in what was to be called, the Red Mist Final, a new era of cup winners would breathe new life into the competition. MCM, McSweeney’s twice, EMC, Novartis and Bru Centra would all taste success. Following the death of the league’s first and much loved secretary Mick Mooney in January 2007 it was decided to name the trophy in his honour.
In the final later that year EMC would go on to lift the trophy for the first time following a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over holders McSweeney’s at the ‘Cross after EMC’s O’Donovan and Trust’s McCann shared the goals in the ninety.
A year later, Novartis put five past RCI in their only cup win to date. Bru Centra added the cup to their shield triumph in 2009 following a 3-1 success over Fermoy Nissan. A new decade would welcome the former McSweeney’s, now Marlboro Trust, back to the top with consecutive wins over Tile King. Like EMC before them, Anglers Sports Lounge would prevent Trust from making it three in-a-row, Bright Buddy and Richie Wallace on target for the winners with present Premier Division Player of the Month for October, Tom Frawley replying for Aidan Kelleher’s charges.
Doolan’s Cow recorded successive wins in 2016 and 2017 leaving Quinlan’s Bar to become the last team to triumph at Turner’s Cross in 2018/19 after accounting for holders Satellite Taxis who had lifted their first Mooney success after a penalty shoot-out triumph over Alpha Sud in 2018.