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When Cork’s International keeper Fox Foley was transferred to Glasgow Celtic in 1934, a worthy successor was quickly found in the person of Billy Harrington. All sportsmen acclaimed him as one of the greatest clubmen. Cobh born Billy began his career with Springfield and later with Cobh, before moving to assist Cork Bohs in the League of Ireland.

Following their demise he signed for Cork FC and when another keeper was signed, he was willing to play second fiddle and even performed with some success on the right wing. The cream will always rise to the top as it did in Billy‘s case. Through the lean years and the good, Billy never swerved in his loyalty to his Cork club. He was first choice keeper in 1936 and his brilliance was recognised by the International selectors who honoured him on four occasions.

He replaced Fox Foley for the match against Holland in December 1935 and was retained for the games against Switzerland, Hungary and Luxembourg. With Cork, Billy was almost indispensable and in the eight years he remained in the city, he played with its three Free State Clubs. When Cork FC went into liquidation in 1938, Harrington was offered terms by Shels, but turned them down to sign with the new team Cork City.

Two years later Cork City were expelled and Billy threw in his lot with Cork Utd. There was a curious link between Cork’s international goalkeepers Foley and Harrington. The International jersey alternated between the pair and when Fox left for Scotland, Billy replaced him. Again in 1940 Fox returned and Billy played second fiddle.

Now it was Billy who left and he gave his services to Limerick for a few years. Billy answered the call for help in the close season of 1942 when he returned to play with Cork in the Inter-City Cup series. After spending another season in Limerick, he jumped at the opportunity of playing with Cork Utd and in 1944-45 he helped them to their third League Championship title.

Cork Utd signed Ned Courtney from Cobh Ramblers the following season and the man who moved to the Holy Ground as his replacement, was local hero Billy Harrington, who began an extended spell on home soil. Billy helped Ramblers to some great victories in the Munster Senior League, but was unable to save them from defeat by St. Patrick’s in the 1948 Intermediate Cup final. Billy’s career went on and on and even I had the opportunity of playing against him in the late sixties when he was custodian with the Irish Steel.


More in this category: « JOE GAMBLE BILLY HAYES »

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