Monday 15 July 2019

Seán Ryan: 'A fitting tribute to Cork's shooting stars'

John Caulfield. Photo: Sportsfile
John Caulfield. Photo: Sportsfile

Seán Ryan

History has a habit of repeating itself, and nowhere is this more obvious in the football world than in the city of Cork. In the southern capital, club has succeeded club in practically every decade since the foundation of the FAI; they have enjoyed some brief success, and then gone out of existence.

Is this to be the fate of the present Cork City also? Ever since the appointment of John Caulfield as manager, they have hung close to the coat-tails of Stephen Kenny's Dundalk, possibly the best team the League of Ireland has ever seen, and have even relegated them to second place for one season.

Now that Kenny has been wooed away by the FAI, is the time ripe for a Cork City takeover, or will history repeat itself, with the departure of Caulfield, and the subsequent break-up of the club?

Thoughts like this are inevitable when you read Michael Russell's magnificent history of Cork Hibs - Hibs! A History of Cork Hibernians FC 1957-1976 (Onstream Publications, €25). Like Cork City, Cork Hibernians enjoyed four glorious years - one League title, two FAI Cups - under manager Dave Bacuzzi. But, when the silverware dried up, a split decision of the board decided not to renew Bacuzzi's contract, much to the disgust of the fans, who marched in protest to Flower Lodge.

Bacuzzi wasn't long out of work, leading amateurs Home Farm to an unlikely FAI Cup triumph in 1975. But it was all downhill for Hibs, who exited the League the following year, finishing in the unexpected surrounds of the USA, where they completed a gruelling set of 11 matches in 23 days, travelling from east coast to west and back as a guest team in the American Soccer League, one of the precursors to the present MSL.

Russell's book of more than 400 pages is in three sections. First, he records the history of the club, on and off the field, with a chapter for each of the 19 seasons.

Section Two is his paean of praise to each of the 228 players who lined out for Hibs. Even if they only played one game or even made a substitute appearance, Russell has given them their due. For the record, the top three in terms of appearances are Noel O'Mahony (441), Donie Wallace (364) and Jackie Morley (362), while the top goalscorers are Dave Wigginton (132), Wallace (65) and Miah Dennehy (63). The totals in each case include all competitions.

Section Three is for the stattos, including as it does the statistics for each season, covering every match, every player and every goal.

It is a fitting tribute to a club that lingers in the memory, and it is written by a Kerryman. Very much a labour of love, the profits from the sale of the book will go to Marymount Hospice.

Sunday Indo Sport

The Throw-In: Kerry back to their best, Connolly’s return and Cork’s baffling inconsistency

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport