UCC end celebrations in style against Ivy League

THE UCC football club will mark the conclusion of their celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the club’s foundation with matches against teams representing the famous Harvard and Princeton universities in America next week.

UCC will spend almost two weeks in America and will play six matches, including two each against the first and second choice teams of Princeton and Harvard. The other matches will be against Bowdoin University in Maine and a social game against a local team from the Boston district, Druid Celtic.

This is a very attractive programme, one that has been a long time in planning by club president John MacCarthy, chairman Darren Hayes and Kieran Nestor, chairman of the club's alumni.

Kevin Kerrigan is the man credited with founding UCC football club in time to play in the 1952/53 season in the Munster Senior League. This is the same man who helped establish Home Farm in Dublin with the late Brendan Menton, father of the former FAI General Secretary of the same name.

The first match played by UCC was in the MSC when they played Transport at Turner's Cross on Sunday, October 5, 1952.

It was an auspicious beginning for UCC who won 6-1. Centre-forward Neil O'Connell, an engineering student, scored five of their goals.

Interestingly, advertisements for the game specified admission fees of one shilling for adults and six pence for children. That would be about six cent and three cent respectively in today's currency.

The club's fortunes varied enormously over the years until more recent times. Now it is thriving under good management and with a increasing and talented playing membership.

UCC has always produced very good players, young men whose talent took them beyond the bounds of intervarsity football. Austin Bradley, father of rugby international Michael, played for Ireland's amateur international team in midfield.

Frank McCarthy was also capped by Ireland at amateur level and represented the League of Ireland many times in the course of a distinguished career with Cork Celtic and UCC.

Derry O'Driscoll, international athlete, opened his career in the late sixties and played consistently with the club until the early nineties. Goalkeeper Tommy Healy, Emmet Curran, Jimmy Murphy, Barry Groeger, Barry O'Brien, Barry Long and Dave O'Donovan were among those who played for Cork clubs in the League of Ireland, while John Clancy played for Waterford.

Kevin O'Sullivan was one of many UCC players to be capped in Universities' Internationals. He was a goalkeeper who went on to become an international referee.

Yet no College team has matched the success of the current squad. They won the Collingwood Cup in Cork; the Crowley Cup, for junior 'varsity teams, in Belfast; and the Freshers' Harding Plate in Galway. They won the club's first senior trophy in the MSL when they beat Rockmount 2-0 in the final of the Beamish Cup.

Six UCC players travelled with Ireland for the World Student Games in Korea this week Brendan O'Connell, Allan Weldon, Shane Hennessy, Paul Rose, Ken Bruton and Richard Bambury.

Michael Mulconry declined selection because he is under contract to Cork City. Rose recently signed for St. Pats and David Spratt is another student in the National League with Cork City.

There will be 45 in the UCC party who leave for America on September 5, a visit that will bring to a close a programme of celebrations that involved several functions over recent months.

President John MacCarthy highlighted the significance of matches against Harvard and Princeton by saying:

"We played Princeton three years ago and established good friendship with them and we secured fixtures against Harvard through the good offices of friends in the USA.

"It is considered a feather in our caps to set up these matches and our fixture against Bowdoin as well. It is not easy to get matches against the Ivy League colleges.

"Princeton's team played in England and in Italy this summer. They have a strong relationship with the Parma club in Italy where a couple of their players have been on trial with Parma."

It is little wonder that these universities enjoy privileged status in the USA. Harvard produced six USA presidents, Princeton four and one Bowdoin past pupil went on to reside in the White House.

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