Dohenys remember county-winning heroes of ’72

December 24th, 2022 12:30 PM

By Tom Lyons

At the reunion of the Dohenys team that won the 1972 county intermediate football championship, club chairman Mark Farr made a presentation to one of the team greats, Denis Collins. On the left is the captain of that great team Brendan O'Rourke. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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‘FIFTY years is a mighty long time,’ said captain Brendan O’Rourke to a large gathering in the Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway at the reunion of the Doheny intermediate football team that won the county championship in 1972.

So long ago, said O’Rourke, that he had to look up the club history book written by club secretary at that time, Raymie Lyons, to check on the matches they had played in that campaign and all the players involved.

‘1972 was a great year for the Doheny club. In fact, it was the start of a new era,’ stated O’Rourke, who was also a member of the team that won the county junior in 1966 and three South West U21 football titles in a row in 1969, 1970 and 1971.

‘Raymie Lyons took over from Joe Lenihan as secretary of the club and held that position for many years, new dressing rooms were opened, a new selection committee was put in place and it was also the year the new plastic football was used in championship for the very first time.

‘This new beginning came on the back of a disastrous 1971 when an extremely young intermediate team had played St Finbarr’s in the semi-final and actually led by 12 points at half time. A Doheny point after half time made it 13 but, amazingly, the game was lost by a single point. The club was in a state of gloom at the following AGM but there was great consolation in the fact that the U21 football team had just completed three in-a-row.’

Members of the Dohenys team that won the 1972 County Intermediate Football Championship at their reunion in the Parkway Hotel were, seated, from left, John Coakley, Vincent O'Sullivan, Denis Collins, Brendan O'Rourke, team captain; Martin Gildea, Johnny Carroll, Donal Crowley, Andrew Collins and Tom Lyons. Back, from left, Michael Farr, Mark Farr, club chairman; Margaret O'Donovan and Mary Mullins, representing their father and team trainer the late Jim Downing; Florrie McCarthy, Jane Kelly O'Rourke, representing her husband the late Colman O'Rourke; Denis Crowley, Mairead Higgins, representing her husband the late Joe Higgins; Seamus O'Sullivan, Bertie Crowley, Denis Lyons, Michael Cagney and Derry Carroll.


O’Rourke then went on to describe the successful intermediate campaign of 1972.

‘Fonsie Lyons, Michael Farr and Derry Farr took over as selectors and brought great experience with them. They had a good blend of mature players from the successful 1960s junior team but also a lot of talented young lads from the three-in-a-row winning U21 team,’ O’Rourke said.

‘Sgt Jim Downing, a Beara native who won a county senior medal with Garda in 1951 and trained lots of teams, including the Carbery divisional team, took over training the team and boy, did we suffer on that hill up Mulloch near the pitch. We had a number of players like Johnny Carroll, John Crowley, Diarmuid Mawe and John Young, who had won county senior medals with Carbery footballers in 1971.’

Quoting from the club history book, O’Rourke detailed championship wins over Newmarket (2-11 to 0-10), and Canovee, always extremely hard to beat (0-11 to 1-5 in Clonakilty).

‘That put us into the county final on October 22nd in the Athletic Grounds against Glanworth,’ explained O’Rourke. ‘We were underdogs in the final against a very good Glanworth team. The club had never won the county intermediate football title, losing three finals, to Bantry in 1936 and 1938 and to St Michael’s in 1969. Ye all remember the effort put into getting ready for the final and what we suffered under Jim Downing, probably the fittest team ever to leave Dunmanway. Well, it all paid off and on the day the team was flying,

‘History was made when we won by 4-10 to 1-7, the first-ever title. The newspaper described the performance as much more polished than the county senior semi-final that followed it. That was only the beginning for that team as they went on to contest the 1975 county senior football final against Nemo Rangers.’


O’Rourke was delighted that the club was honouring the players of 1972 but declined to mention that he, himself, made history on the day when he became the only captain ever to be sent off in an intermediate final but still accepted the cup afterwards from the county chairman, Derry Gowen.

A letter was read out from Con Downing, of Southern Star fame, outlining the part played by his father, Jim, in the Doheny club in those years.

A special framed photograph of the team was then presented to each of the players, or representative, by the club chairperson Mark Farr, with captain Brendan O’Rourke doing the enjoyable commentary. Full marks to the organising committee of Mark Farr, Eddie Moloney, Brendan O’Rourke, Denis Collins and Michael Farr on a job well done.

The players who received presentations included Brendan O’Rourke (captain), Michael Cagney, Vincent and Seamus O’Sullivan, Johnny and Derry Carroll, Florrie McCarthy, Donal and Denis Crowley, Bertie Crowley, Tommy Lyons, Andrew Collins and Denis Collins. Presentations were also made to the selectors Michael Farr, Fonsie Lyons (represented by Dennis Lyons), Derry Farr (represented by Mark Farr) and Jim Downing (represented by his daughters, Mary and Margaret). Players unavoidably absent included Sean and Liam Crowley, Oliver Deane, John Crowley, James Connolly and Gary O’Rourke.

Deceased players included Colman O’Rourke (represented by his wife, Joan), Denis DD Lyons (represented by his wife, Kay), Joe Higgins (represented by his wife, Máiread), John Young (represented by John Coakley), Diarmuid Mawe and Kieran O’Driscoll.


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