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John O'Leary; Avondale United

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Blackrock Online.. People of Distinction.. Sports Category.. Soccer 

John O'Leary of Avondale United 

The former Avondale United footballer of distinction, who is our subject matter for this tribute, had an interesting football career and also excelled in another field sport, namely Pitch & Putt.

At just ten years old John O’Leary strolled in to the Avondale United club, but then at fifteen he swapped a Sky Blue jersey for the Red/Black of another local club, the famed Ringmahon Rangers.

Developing his kills with Rangers over a three year tenure, Newcastle United of Co. Limerick, took John to West Limerick to play League of Ireland football. In 1984 he took up residence at Cork City FC and after a brief encounter with City, returned to his original roots with The Dale, playing in junior ranks.

For the 1984/85 season he captained Dale to the Saxone Cup title and followed up with another Saxone Cup triumph in season 1986/87. Following those triumphs, the senior grade beckoned for John and another move followed for season 1990/91, as John again renewed acquaintances with the Cork City squad for just one season.

Once more he found himself lining out in a Sky Blue jersey with Dale and he was appointed captain once more. The club claimed The Munster Senior Premier League title in season 1992/93 and John was also selected on The Munster Senior League Representative team for the same season.

In an action packed career, John played V Fermoy in an F.A.I. Senior Cup tie, winning 2 – 0 and also V Longford Town with another outstanding victory 2 – 1 achieved. In the 3rd round V League of Ireland side, Shelbourne of Dublin, Dale hosted the famed Shels side at the home ground of Cork Constitution on Sunday 12th March 1995, resulting in a 4 – 0 defeat against the visitors.

In further F.A.I. action John lined out for Dale v C.Y.M. of Terenure, Dubli, in the 1st round, with Dale achieving a 2 – 0 victory. This victory took Dale on a historic northern trip to the famed Bogside home of Derry City, at their Brandywell ground. This 2nd round match, still fresh in the memories of Dale fans, resulted in a 2 – 0 loss on Sunday 11th February 1996.

John O’Leary’s Avondale career provided him with banks of Golden Memories, now proudly preserved by his Blackrock Online incorporation, as a footballer of Distinction on the southern banks of the Lee.

In another competitive sports arena, John also became a player of Distinction and that code was Pitch & Putt. He played out of the now defunct Dunlops club and he is now a prominent member of the Ballinlough club.

Scratch Cups were amongst his honours on a number of occasions and a stand out achievement was his triumph over Carrigaline’s Mick Forrest in the 1983 Match Play Championship played at the Dunlops venue on Blackrock Road. Another honour worthy of recollection, was his selection for an Irish team v England at Coventry in 1984 and he halved both his games at the English midlands venue.

A four times Munster Inter County winner representing Cork, honours were won in 1982/83/84 and 1985. In further notable victories, John also won two National Inter County titles with Cork, in 1990 and again in 1994. Trawling back to 1981, a Juvenile Inter County title was also achieved.

In preserving the family link with Avondale United, David O’Leary, John’s son, is a current (2020) member of the Dale senior squad and won an Intermediate F.A.I. Cup medal in 2019 at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, when Dale made further history by beating Crumlin of Dublin 1 – 0 in the final.

In Cork soccer and Pitch & Putt codes, John O’Leary’s sporting legacy is now preserved for current and future generations of Blackrock Online sports fans, as a Person of Distinction with a proud sporting reputation.

Michael Casey

Soccer Historian @ Blackrock Online

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