Cambridge Boys tribute to Joe Corcoran

Pictured Above: Joe Corcoran.

Pictured Above: Joe Corcoran.

The tributes came from every level of football. From the fond memories of players, to the touching words of his friend, Sir Alex Ferguson. Joe Corcoran’s legacy has many strands – as a manager, as Manchester United scout and as an administrator – but it’s in Ringsend Park where the true strength of his legacy will be felt.

Ringsend Park was Joe’s real-life field of dreams and Cambridge’s clubhouse at the top of the park remains Joe’s biggest gift to Ringsend’s future footballers.

Cambridge has been woven into the fabric of the area since 1969, but it was in 1996 when the first sod was turned on their remarkable clubhouse that they finally had a place to call home.

It took two years and a lot of hard work before the doors opened, but Joe was the driving force behind it all. Eileen Lawless recalls:

“There were endless fundraisers, the begging letters, ticket sales and buy-a-brick schemes. Meetings with building suppliers to ensure walls went up, that floors went down and pipes got connected. It was never-ending work but the club, with Joe at the hub, didn’t falter.”

The club stands as a beacon to their hard work and determination. The first clubhouse in Ringsend built by the club for the club. “Joe was so proud when we built the club,” says Eileen.

Before the bricks and mortar there were those halcyon days of the 1970s. A brilliant Cambridge team, under Joe’s stewardship, conquered all. Trophies came, including All Ireland success, thanks to players like Gino Lawless, Nailor O’Neill, Alan Ennis, Paddy Joyce to name a few.

A tour of America ensued, unheard of for the times, as Joe’s side took the States by storm. They played over a dozen games and lost only once. It was a remarkable achievement and a remarkable trip to embark on.

Faded photographs have captured their achievement for prosperity, but their bond remains almost 40 years later, a bond knitted together by their manager. After more than four decades they remain Joe’s team.

Joe’s attention to detail is renowned. The introduction of bright yellow socks wasn’t a fashion statement. That distinctive yellow flash helped Joe track the movement of his players. On the pitch, the distinctive socks helped team-mates pick each other out with ease. It was one of many master strokes.

The night before games, the jerseys, in order of 11 to 1, were perfectly washed and folded. Shorts and socks neatly packed. Even tie-ups for the socks were placed in the kit bag. Every little detail was covered and the players never forgot.

After the glory days came struggle. Still, Joe and Eileen remained steadfast and Cambridge started to rebuild. The small steps of the late 1980s soon became thundering strides. Soon under-age football in Ringsend had its palace to house their young stars.

Cambridge is full to the brim these days with over a dozen teams and a flourishing girls’ section. Former players like David Cassidy returned to coach his girls’ team to glory. The Under-18 title winners of David Doyle and Thomas Gregg were nurtured through the ranks.

These things do not happen by chance, they happen because people like Joe Corcoran cared. Cared for the club, for the area and most of all cared for the players. The continued sight of young players in blue weaving their magic across the park ensures Joe’s legacy remains long after the final whistle has sounded.

By Niall Feery