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JACKIE O'REILLY

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CORK UNITED LEGEND & Cobh's IRISH INTERNATIONAL

Jackie had the longet senior service of any Cork player. He played with four Cork League clubs, Cork Bohs, Cork, Cork Utd and Cork Athletic in a senior career spanning 18 seasons. Jackie attracted the attention of cross-channel scouts after starring for the Cork Utd. side that lost to Shamrock Rovers in the 1936 FAI Cup final.

Manchester Utd, who won promotion to the English First Division, were particularly interested in Jackie, but the Cobh boy choose to sign for Norwich, along with team-mate Owen Madden. His subsequent suspension by the FAI for failing to seek their blessing for the move, meant that he was confined to International Limbo.

In December 1937 Jackie applied for reinstatement but the Free State Council rejected his request. Eventually the FAI relented and Jackie returned to Ireland in 1939 and resumed in the colours of Shelbourne before signing for all-conquering Cork Utd in 1940. With them he won every honour in the game, five Championship, two Cups, Shield and Dublin City Cup.

Almost certainly his earlier suspension had deprived him of deserved international recognition, but in the twilight of his career he gained his just reward when capped against Portugal as Internationals resumed in 1946. And in Portugal’s Stadium of Light he had the honour of scoring Ireland’s first post-war goal before 60,000 excited fans.

The 32 year old winger retained his place on the side that beat Spain 1-0 in Madrid and this time Jackie turned provider, setting up Josiah Sloan of Arsenal for the match winning goal. Jackie was also honoured by the League and showed his versatility with them; starring as right-winger, left-winger and full back against the Northern Regional League.

When Cork Utd disbanded in 1948, Jackie along with other former players Owen Madden and Florrie Burke, helped to launch the replacement club Cork Athletic and the playing trio became directors of the club. With Athletic Jackie added another Championship medal to the five won with Cork United.

PLUNKETT CARTER Profile.

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