Cork mourns hero John Bennett

John Bennett, whose death occurred yesterday, was an All-Ireland senior hurling medal winner with Cork in 1966 and a member of the Blackrock team which in 1956 reclaimed the county championship after a 25-year wait.

A native of Douglas, he was an accomplished singer and made several records with the Ardellis Ceilí Band.

Born in 1934, the lack of an under-age structure in Douglas prompted his move to Blackrock, and he lined out in the first of three county senior finals in 1954, when Glen Rovers were champions.

Two years later, he shared in a memorable triumph over the Blackpool club and in 1961 won a second medal, against Avondhu.

The club history The Rockies credits him with playing a key role at centre-forward, stating: “He mastered Johnny Browne, who, up to the final, had beaten all comers.”

Remembered in particular for his involvement in the 1966 All-Ireland victory over Kilkenny, when he lined out at right corner-forward, he filled a number of forward positions with Blackrock.

Jim O’Brien, father of current club Secretary Marie O’Brien, was a member of the 1961 team and remembered him as “very strong and very fast, with good wrists.

“John always kept himself fit. He was a great man to train. He also played on the wing, but I would say that his best position was corner-forward,” he commented.

While he didn’t start in the opening games of the 1966 campaign, he was brought in for the Munster final against Waterford. His selection was very topical at a time when there was strong speculation Christy Ring would be recalled and given the chance of winning a record ninth All-Ireland medal. But, he declined the offer, reportedly when he learned he was being spoken about as a substitute, with Bennett chosen ahead of him (and scoring 2-1).

He played in the 1962 League final, when Cork lost to Kilkenny and was also on the losing side in the 1965 Railway Cup final.

Towards the end of his career, he played for two seasons with Douglas in the intermediate football championship. His removal takes place at 7pm tonight from O’Connor’s Funeral Home on Boreenmanna Road to St Michael’s Church, Blackrock, with Requiem Mass tomorrow at 11am.

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