27 January, 2011

In memory of Jack Lynch; former Taoiseach na hÉireann: 200th Anniversary of Cork's Gael Choláiste Mhuire An Mhainistir Thuaidh: North Monastery School Cork: a fantastic sporting/hurling and political nursery:

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Gaelcholáiste Mhuire An Mhainistir Thuaidh: Cork City's North Monastery Secondary School: for 200 years now an iconic sporting, academic and political nursery
In memory of JACK LYNCH: 1917 - 1999:North Monastery Secondary School 1930-'35
Taoiseach na hÉireann; 1966-1973 & 1977-'79        
5 time All-Ireland Hurling Winner (Cork); 1941-'49 

              To mark the 200th Anniversary of Gaelcholáiste Mhuire an Mhainistir Thuaidh (North Monastery Secondary School);  last night, Cork's "Evening Echo" did a piece on North Mon Hurling Team of Pre-World War Two. Tonight was the turn of Post-World War Two. While I am simply unqualified to comment on pre-World War Two; post-World War Two is a very different story, though admittedly some of the evidence here is anecdotal.
                The pre-World War Two North Mon team was made up mainly of Glen Rovers players. Na Piarsaigh and St. Vincent's Hurling & Football clubs were founded in 1943. From then on, players from these two clubs featured prominently in North Mon teams. 
A special, special GAA man:  Teddy McCarthy
                The Mon won ten Harty Cups pre-World War Two but had to wait until 1955 for their next. This was partly due to the Emergency, where boarding schools had the advantage due to players having extra time to hone their sporting skills. Also attributable to the Mon's Harty famine was the founding of several schools in the northside of Cork city in the late 1940's, meaning the Mon had a smaller pool of talent to choose from. The dam of frustration finally burst in 1955 and the next Harty (Cup) went to Cork's leading northside hurling light in 1960. That year, the Mon won the first of five All-Ireland College's hurling Titles. The Harty was retained in 1961 but the All-Ireland Final was lost to Kieran's of Kilkenny. During the 1960's, players like Teddy O'Brien (Glen Rovers), Tomás Buckley (Glen Rovers) and Michael Ellard (Na Piarsaigh) starred, but the Mon couldn't clinch the Harty again until 1970.
Former Mon boy Marcus O'Sullivan(right): 1984 Olympics
               The introduction of free secondary education in 1966 allowed thousands of children to stay in school until Leaving Certificate level. This increased the Mon's hurling/sporting pool, but also increased that of their rivals. There was a very competitive club hurling scene in Cork in the 1970's and the Cork minor hurling-team won six All-Ireland Championships between 1970 and 1979. The Mon would have to wait until 1980 for its next Harty triumph however.
Cork's 1990 All-Ireland captain Mulcahy
                Once again, the teams from that era featured some marvellous players. Most prominent of these were Pat Horgan (Glen Rovers), John O'Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh), Tom Cashman (Blackrock) and Richie O'Mahony (Glen Rovers). The Mon now had more Harty's than any other school with four Titles. Future Cork three-time All-Ireland winning star Tony O'Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh) was the key scoring sensation, but there were many others: 1990 Cork All-Ireland winning captain Tomás Mulcahy (Glen Rovers - pictured right), Paul O'Connor (Na Piarsaigh) and captain Jim Murray (Na Piarsaigh). The team went on to win the All-Ireland Schools hurling title. Just as 20 years earlier, the Harty was retained in 1981, but the All-Ireland was lost. Teddy McCarthy (Sarsfields) won his only Harty that year. A special mention needs to go to Teddy Mc, because in 1990, he became the only GAA player EVER to win an All-Ireland hurling & football title in the same year. That is now unlikely to be repeated, though the legendary Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (Na Piarsaigh) came so close in 1999. 
               Harty's numbers 17 and 18 came in 1985 and '86. Kieran McGuckin (Glen Rovers), Frank Horgan (Erins Own), Tony O'Keefe (Erins Own) and Christy Connery (Na Piarsaigh) were the stars. The '86 side also won the All-Ireland, beating Community College Birr after a replay.
The greatest Mon man of all?...Seán Óg Ó hAilpín
               The Mon's last Harty came in 1994. Brian Hurley (St. Finbarrs) was the goalkeeper and captain. The backline also contained Kevin Egan (Delaneys) and the aforementioned icon Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (pictured right).  Seán Óg deserves a special mention because he was born in Fiji and lived in Sydney until the age of 10, which was when he first played hurling. He went on to win three All-Ireland senior hurling inter-county Titles for Cork!
               Finally, it's important to mention the people who made the hurling legacy of the Mon possible; the Christian brothers. It was the interest and time of the Brothers who nurtured and facilitated the thousands of boys to express their personalities through hurling. It has been the integrity and character of Cork that have benefitted and not just hurling per se. 

Thanks to Cork's Evening Echo for naming
North Mon team of 1944 to present:

Seán O'Brien (1955 Harty Cup winner); Christy Connery (1985),  Jim Murray (1980),  Teddy O'Brien,  Tom Cashman, Pat Horgan, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (pictured right: 1994); Mick Corbett (1970), Joe Twomey, Teddy McCarthy (1981), Martin Lyons (1980), Tomás Mulcahy (1980);  Eamonn Goulding, Tony O'Sullivan (1980), Ger Hanley (1970).


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