His flat green cap was his signature garb, but Finbarr O’Shea, who passed away Wednesday, was wrapped up in his beloved Cork City FC his entire life.
A friend to players, staff and supporters at Turner’s Cross, Finbarr “devoted his life” to the club, his nephew Tony Tobin has said.
“As a young boy in the 60’s he would bring me to Turner’s Cross, Waterford, Limerick to see Cork Celtic playing. He loved soccer all his life.
“When Cork City came along they became his new passion. His first involvement was when he sponsored the club (O’Shea owned and iron works business). And it took off from there. Whatever job needed to be done, Finbarr was there, willing and able.”
Cork City FC said everyone was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the longtime supporter and volunteer.
"Finbarr, known for his famous green Cork City flat cap, was a popular figure among football fans in Cork and beyond, and he will be sorely missed by all. Our thoughts are with Finbarr’s family and friends."
Double-winning manager John Caulfield, said today: “Finbarr was a witty, sincere generous man who throughout my playing and management career followed us home and away until he fell unwell in recent years. When no one went to places like Derry and Monaghan in the old days, we were always guaranteed there would be one car pulling into the ground with Finbarr at the wheel - a true gent who leaves many great memories.”
Along with legendary club volunteer Noelle Feeney, the pair became a formidable team around the club.
Confirmed Tony Tobin: “He was Noelle’s right hand man. He used to drive her everywhere and was great friends with her brother Seanie.
“They would travel all over Ireland to matches together. More often than not they would have Gary McSweeney with them as well - Finbarr was like a second father to him.” Finbarr was always on standby to ferry players to and from matches if required.
“If a player was working and couldn’t make the team bus then Finbarr would drive them to the game.
“I remember when Phil Harrington was working with CMP, Finbarr would often bring him to Dublin and straight back down afterward. And he never, ever took a penny or a cent for that.”
No task or request was too big or too small.
“He used to stand outside the dressing room and if any of the players wanted anything outside he would go and get it for them.” Some jobs though were more taxing than others: “He was a mighty man for climbing up on the roof of the stand if a ball was after getting stuck up there.
“Many a time when a ball went into a garden around Turner’s Cross, Finbar was the man who would go knocking on front doors to get it back.” Finbarr never drank or smoked - though many questioned the former given how he was often the life and soul of the party!
“He wore his Pioneer pin with pride. There was one story about a flight to a European game being delayed and they were killing time at the airport.
“Liam Kearney’s father was there and was a great box player. So he started playing and Finbarr was up dancing around with the air hostesses. People couldn’t believe that he didn’t drink.”
He was perhaps best known for his famous flat green cap.
“He was hardly ever seen without it,” Tony explained, “and when he didn’t have it on people didn’t recognise him.
“When the hospital rang his wife Helen they wanted to know what clothes did she want him to be buried in. She asked that they dressed him in his Cork City gear and that the flat cap will sit on top of the coffin.”
In 2016, when City won the Cup, midfielder Steven Beattie, brought the trophy into St Finbarr’s hospital, where Finbarr was recovering. Beattie, who has rejoined the club recently, tweeted: RIP to ‘my aul pal’ Finbarr. A gentleman in every sense of the word. A proper Cork City legend.”
RTÉ’s John Creedon, another avid City fan, said Mr O’Shea was “a sweetheart of a man.
“This is truly the end of an era, as Finbarr joins John Kennedy, Noelle Feeney and all the other City volunteers in that great City dressing room in the sky. I trust St. Finbarr will have a fresh cardigan and flat cap waiting for him.”
Club kit manager Mick Ring added: “Another one of the Cork City family taken too soon. Finbarr was a mainstay at Turners' Cross for as long as I can remember. A real gentleman, with an infectious smile.”