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BILLY HAYES: STAR PERFORMER for Cork United & Huddersfield Town

Billy was capped twice by the Republic, firstly against England in September 1946 shortly after he had returned to Huddersfield from Cork Utd. and then versus Portugal at the end of the season. In the English game Billy did a great marking job on Tom Finney but was injured early in the second half and forced to continue as a virtual passenger on the right wing. Ironically, Finney snatched a late winner for England.

Against Portugal Billy squandered a great opportunity to equalise for Ireland when he shot wide from a penalty kick and the visitors went on to win 2-0. Billy also had the honour of being capped four times by Northern Ireland, against England twice and Scotland twice in 1938 and '39. He became Huddersfield’s longest serving player in a career which straddled the war.

During the five years he played with Cork Utd (1941 to 1946) he displayed the skill and polish of experience which was to raise the standard of football in Ireland to a very high peak seldom, if ever, before reached. In those exciting years he was justifiably acclaimed as the greatest full-back of his time. He helped Cork Utd to win four League titles, Dublin City Cup and Shield medals, but had to be content with runners-up FAI Cup medals in consecutive seasons.

He was also on the teams beaten by Drums and Dundalk in 1942 and 43 and, ironically, had he stayed with Cork a few months longer he would have gained that elusive medal, as they beat Waterford in the 1947 decider.


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