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Glorious Hurling Career Of Cork's Gerald McCarthy
Known throughout the hurling universe as the youngest ever player to captain an All Ireland senior hurling winning team in 1966, the name Gerald McCarthy is synomonous with Cork hurling history. Despite all of Gerald’s outstanding silverware collection, his departure from Cork hurling management ended in waves of controversy, but absolutely nothing will ever tarnish his successful playing career with St. Finbarrs, Cork and Munster teams. And as a coach at club and county levels his successes will go down in history as remarkable achievements.
Cork’s hurling fortunes were in the doldrums from 1954 to 1966, without winning an All Ireland senior hurling title and fans needed a new messiah to lead them out of the wilderness. In to the breach stepped a 21 year old St. Finbarrs hurler. Cork won a fortuitous Munster title in 1966 and needed a replay to dispose of the Clare challenge in the 1st round. History recalls that Cork made heavy weather of claiming the Munster 1966 Munster championship.
The scribes rated Cork as total outsiders in the 1966 All Ireland final against Kilkenny and the rebel hurlers thoroughly desereved their underdog tag. In a final not registered as a classic for skills, Cork outscored their fancied opponents 3-9 to 1-10 and Gerald McCarthy, as captain, became an overnight household name in Ireland. He wore his famous mantle with great distinction in the years to follow, and especially as a vital member of Cork’s historic 3 in a row successful teams of 1976/77/78.
Born in 1945, Gerald won 4 Cork senior hurling championships in 1965, 1968, 1974, 1977 and Munster titles in 1965, 1974 and 1977. All Ireland club titles were won in 1975 and 1978. In club football Gerald won a Cork senior football title in 1976.
The elite titles of senior All Ireland hurling came in 1966, 1970; 1976, 1977 and 1978 and Munster senior titles were annexed in 1966; 1969; 1970; 1972; 1975 (captain); 1976; 1977; 1978; 1979 (captain). In the Cork colours Gerald also won 3 National Hurling League titles in 1968/69, 1969/70 and 1973/74.
The historic All Ireland Under 21 Championship success of 1966,with Gerald as captain, is remembered for the 3 games required to decide the destiny of the title. Wexford were Cork's opponents on those famous occasions.
With Munster in the Railway cup a glorious 5 titles were claimed in 1968 (sub), 1969, 1970 (captain), 1976 and 1978.
Following retirement, Gerald went into coaching with his native St. Finbarrs and won the Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship in 1980 and 4 Cork Senior Hurling titles in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1984. In 2006 the former Cork hurler managed his club senior camogie team and duly won the Cork title.
On appointment to the Cork senior management, 3 Munster titles were won in 1982; 1982 and 1992 and when Cork won the ‘Double’ in 1990, Gerald was at the helm with Fr. O’Brien. A National Hurling League title was also won in 1992/93.
With Cork Gerald was a class performer as a midfielder or at half forward, and in Cork club hurling duels with Blackrock’s Frank Cummins, fans came along especially to witness the warzone that erupted when the two midfield hurlers collided. Many Cork fans were left wondering how Gerald, such a famous Cork hurler, could take on the mantle of managing Waterford, but he set a trend that is talked about in Decies country. Cork, Kilkenny and Tipperary famous hurlers, seldom accept a challenge to lead any other county, but hurling needs messiahs with famous credentials to spread the hurling gospel universally.
Gerald McCarthy of Cork hurling fame is an automatic incorporation in our All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery and this editor had the distinction of hosting a ‘This Is Your Life’ SportsLife Tribute Show to the Cork and St. Finbarrs hurler in 1989 attended by several hundred people.
Derry JF Doody