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JOHNNY McGOWAN

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From PASSAGE WEST to WEST HAM'S UPTON PARK for Cork Soccer Icon

Many outstanding players starred with Cork Utd during the clubs all conquering short-lived existence in the glorious forties. Johnny McGowan, born in Passage West in June 1920 and reared in Cobh, was one of the greatest. He first played with Cobh Utd and made his debut with Cork B as a mere 16 year old and after just three matches, commenced a glittering League of Ireland career spanning twelve years during which he assisted Cork FC, Cork City and Cork Utd.

Ill-fated Cork City had just one trophy victory to its name - the Munster Senior Cup and Johnny was a member of that winning side. With them he had the distinction of blotting the legendary Dixie Dean out of the game when the record scoring English International played against him for Sligo in the FAI Cup at the Mardyke.

Johnny benefited enormously from the professional set-up at Cork Utd and with them won five League championship medals and two cup winners medals, playing at right back, right half and centre half. He became an almost automatic choice on the Inter League team and he fulfilled a lifetime ambition when gaining international recognition in March 1947.

He wore the number two jersey as Ireland defeated Spain 3-2 before 42,000 enraptured spectators at a throbbing Dalymount Park. When the war ended he transferred to West Ham, along with Tommy Moroney. He had the misfortune to miss his planned English League debut through severe blistering of his feet and worse was to follow, as a succession of more serious injuries jeopardised his career. A knee injury resulted in two cartilages being removed forcing him to eventually retire completely from the game.

Johnny returned home to Cork in 1952 to look after his family sweet business, but was persuaded to manage and coach Cork Hibernians in 1960, until handing over the reigns to his great friend Tommy Moroney two years later.

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