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TOMMY MORONEY

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An EXCEPTIONAL CORK SPORTSMAN

TOMMY MORONEY was not just a great dual player, but a tremendous all-round athlete, who won County and Provincial Championships in sprints and high jump. However, it looked as if it was going to be as a top class rugby player that he would make his name. He displayed his talents at an early age when starring in Schools Rugby with PBC and while with them was chosen for the Munster Schools Inter Provincial team.

After leaving school he played briefly with Highfield before commencing a promising career with Cork Con. Honours came quickly and the dynamic youngster played for Munster and the Rest of Ireland against the Universities. Unfortunately, International rugby was suspended during the war years depriving him of a certain International Cap. Despite the strong appeal of rugby, Tommy chose soccer as a career and for a number of years successfully mixed both; playing rugby on Saturday and soccer on Sunday.

This dual involvement brought its problems as playing with the country’s top teams, Cork Con and Cork Utd, surely was a recipe for disaster. He was idolised by followers of both codes who recall his hectic weekend schedules. One Saturday in 1946, he was brilliant against Leinster in Landsdowne Road and equally so a day later against Shams in the FAI Cup at the Dyke. A week later it became chaotic - an FAI Cup semi final replay was fixed for Dublin on a Friday night, followed twenty hours later by a Munster Senior Rugby Cup final against deadly rivals Garryowen at the Mardyke and an appearance for the Irish Army against the FAI back in Dublin on Sunday.

Cork Utd went down with colours flying against Shams in the FAI Cup and the dash back to Cork was rewarding, as he scored a sensational late try to win Cork Con the Munster Cup. Not surprisingly Tommy cried off the Irish Army team, so he was able to rest his weary feet and celebrate with his Cork Con mates at a mighty bash in Cork. 

It was 1943 when Tommy decided to have a go at soccer and after serving a speedy apprenticeship with Cork Utd B team, he was promoted to the first team. With United he won League Championship medals in 1944-45 and '45-46 as well as an FAI Cup medal in 1947. His fame spread across the Irish Sea and several top English clubs were disappointed, when in 1947 he chose to sign for West Ham.

He marked his international debut with Ireland’s goal in a 2-1 defeat by Spain before 65,000 spectators in Barcelona in May 1948. The highlight of his International career was undoubtedly the starring role played in the defeat of England ,at Goodison in 1949. Tommy went on to serve his country with distinction and won the last of his twelve caps while with Evergreen Utd against France in 1953.

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