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Eddie O'Brien Of Cork - Star Of 1970 All Ireland Senior Hurling Final
Eddie O’Brien first played for Passage as a 13 year old on the under 15 team of 1958. His family had moved from Cobh a few years previously and he was not long playing when the Passage under age mentors could see that they had a star in the making. As he progressed through the under age ranks of the Passage club all defenders in the City Bord na Nóg dreaded the sight of this all - action young Passage forward. It came as no surprise when ‘EddieO’ won his place on the Cork minor hurling team of 1963, but at that time Cork minors were going through a lean spell and did not progress in the Munster championship.
Also in 1963 Passage senior hurlers were now becoming a force in the Cork county championship, and Eddieo’s club performances earned him a place on the Cork senior team of 1965, alongside another Passage player, Justin McCarthy. A distinguished performance against Waterford in a drawn Munster championship game, brought him further into the spotlight. In the replay, which Cork won, he gave another fine display.
In the Munster final v Tipperary, Eddieo was again selected, but Cork, once again, could not break Tipp’s dominance from 1956 to 1965. In 1966 Cork regained the Munster championship, but Eddieo had surprisingly fallen out of favour with the Cork selectors. However he was playing a starring role with the county under 21's in 1966 and hurling fans all over Ireland remember the epic three games required to give Cork a glorious All Ireland title against Wexford.
From 1966 to 1969, EddieO was by now making rave reviews with his outstanding displays for Passage. The Cork selectors could no longer ignore his automatic claims for inclusion in 1969. In the Munster championship, he gave some fine displays, as Cork made their way to the All Ireland final against Kilkenny. Cork fans had great expectations of Eddieo in the 1969 final, but in an amazing and controversial half time huddle by the selectors, they decided that the Passage player had to be substituted.
Cork’s fiery up frontman was wiped out by this unwise move and a final loss to Kilkenny was greatly lamented. The year 1970 would prove that Eddieo indeed had the temperament, drive and skills, to win a great All Ireland for Cork against Wexford. He bamboozled his marker in the final and left a trail of scoring destruction upon Wexford, that has gone down in hurling folklore. His final tally of 3 goals and 1 point silenced Slaneyside fans who looked on in awe, at one of the greatest displays ever seen at Croke Park on All Ireland final day.
Many shrewd judges of both codes would contend, that despite his hurling fame, Eddieo was in fact a better gaelic footballer. In the Passage club he is regarded as the best footballer in the history of the club. His scoring exploits in club football are legendary and his natural and outstanding ability to kick from the ground with either the left or right boot, is still talked about in Cork football circles.
Regrettably Cork football fans never saw Eddieo in a Cork senior football championship shirt. An extrovert personality on and off the field, he always had an unexpected magic wand to unfold during the game or in the dressing room. The complexion of Eddieo’s make-up made him one of the all time endearing players to wear the rebel jersey. Tales abound that consolidate his great popularity amongst players and fans.
Roll Of Honour:
All Ireland senior hurling medal: 1970
Munster senior hurling medals: 1969/70
National hurling league medals: 1968/69;
All Ireland U21 hurling medal: 1966
Munster U21 hurling medal: 1966
Composed by Derry JF Doody