October 24, 1993
Corkery's Explosive 1993
Club Championship and All-Star atone for disappointment
As 1993 draws to a close, the footballers and hurlers of Ireland are settling into a well-deserved break, after the exertions and demands of the G.A.A. season. And few have been busier on the playing field this year than Colin Corkery, probably the football find of the Championship.
Although he played for Cork in last year's National League campaign, the Nemo Rangers man really only came to notice in May of '93, when he had a dream Championship debut against Clare, knocking in a total of 2-5 which included one of the goals of the season. Talk about arriving with a bang! Colin quickly turned into one of the most talked about forwards around but is reluctant to accept the plaudits which were showered on him following 'that' goal against the Banner County. "There were a lot of good goals scored this year and mine was just one of those things that you never plan. I just went past Seamus Clancy and hit it and, luckily enough, it went in", he says modestly.
Colin's impressive tally of scores against Clare sent him on the way to becoming the country's top marksman in the 1993 All-Ireland Championship, with a total of 2-24, the highest in Ireland, and made him a leading contender for an All-Star award which he duly took, last Friday night. While becoming top scorer this year, Corkery established himself as an expert, something which he has practiced diligently since the age of 14. "It makes it a bit easier to be a high scorer when you take frees and I practice hard with them and set myself a target of five points or more in every game". His scoring ability was most recently demonstrated two weeks ago in the Munster club Championship final, as Nemo Rangers comprehensively defeated the Clare champions. Kilmurry -Ibrickane, by 1-17 to 0-4. Colin contributed 1-8 of his side's score, including a penalty goal, four frees and two '45s and regularly strolled through the opposing defence with ease. With just four clubs left in the All-Ireland, Nemo Rangers must be in with a good chance of emulating their Cork colleagues, O'Donovan Rossa, "coming this far, we'd be hoping to go all the way", admits the 6'4" corner forward. "I think we've a good chance but Eire Og are still around and we've to play the Ulster champions next and that won't be easy either".
It seems that as the Championship has progressed, the Cork champions have got better, defeating St. Finbarr's in the Cork county final and then meeting Laune Rangers of Kerry and needing a replay to get past that stiff challenge. "The first match against Laune Rangers was the toughest, because of the awful conditions. It was entertaining and some of the supporters said it was the best game they'd ever seen in that sort of weather". In a year with many peaks - and one or two valleys - the high point for Colin has been the county final victory over a St. Finbarr's side who were chasing a Senior hurling and football double. It more than made up for last year, when over-confidence got the better of the Rangers and they went out to O'Donovan Rossa of Skibereen. "This year we took every game as it came but I think that last year, we were looking ahead to St. Patrick's Day and we ended up losing the county final".
Now that yet another Munster title is safely tucked away in the bulging Nemo Rangers trophy cabinet, Colin can enjoy his first few weekends off since February. All of this sporting activity, however, is a far cry from the scenario in 1992, when the giant forward spent long periods sidelined with a hop injury. This ailment was picked up in Australia, of all places, where Colin spent the best part of 1990 and '91 playing Aussie rules football with the Carlton club. He was there around the same time as other Irish stars like Anthony Tohill, Niall Buckley and also Jim Stynes, and found it a valuable experience. "It took me a few months to get used to it but when I did it was grand and it probably made me a better player". The Corkman was playing on a professional basis and actually had the choice to stay on a long-term contract but he decided to come home. "I had a bad hip injury and was under pressure to train at the club, so one day I decided that I couldn't go on like that and I came back", he recalled.
Back to his native county where Colin had originally learned the trade in the '70s. He had played soccer when he was younger but when he attended the Colaiste Chriost Ri, the big lad couldn't avoid getting into gaelic football and then joined Nemo Rangers at the age of 12. "It was a good school and gave a good apprenticeship to those who are going to Nemo Rangers". As usual, Nemo were among the strongest of the Underage clubs when the young Corkery was playing and he won Minor Championship medals, three Under 21 titles and the Senior Championship this year with them.
Colin first came to the attention of the intercounty selectors back in 1988 when he was chosen to play for the Minor side which lost to Kerry in the Munster final by a point. He made the team the following year also but they suffered the exact same fate in the Championship. However, '89 was not without its glory for Cork and Colin as he was a panelist with the Under 21s who took the All-Ireland crown, and he came on as a sub in the final as the Rebels beat Galway by a point. Shortly after that victory, Colin began his spell down under and, when he came back, wasn't long making his way onto the Senior intercounty panel. But then the hip injury which had first come to the surface in Australia came back to haunt him regularly in 1992. "I didn't enjoy that year because I just couldn't get fit and I had all sorts of problems".
The expert marksman's baptism in the Munster Senior Championship didn't come until this year but the rest has been history as he proved Cork's most reliable scorer in 1993 as the strolled to the All-Ireland final. However, that match was a chastening experience for the Munster champions as they lost an early lead and ended up the wrong side of a 1-14 to 2-8 scoreline. "I've never experienced anything like the depression after that", remarks the Nemo Rangers man. Colin himself missed some vital frees and found himself being taken off as the Cork mentors anxiously set about trying to re-establish their authority in the final. However, he is not bitter about his experience.
"I wasn't really disappointed with my own performance but I know that Billy Morgan doesn't take you off for the sake of it. He had something in mind and I didn't fit into the plan". Colin has his own views on how Cork lost on the day. "Nothing went right for us, including a couple of refereeing decisions. Johnny McGurk was the extra man and he was just the man to do that because he can defend and attack and he did it very well. We have no complaints about Derry being All-Ireland champions but I just feel sorry for Tony Davis because he was sent off". That was the low point of the year for Corkery but the Cork county final a couple of weeks later went a long way towards making up for the disappointment
Following a lack-lustre start to the League campaign, when they lost to Meath in a match which came too soon after the All-Ireland final as far as the Rebels were concerned, Cork have been playing fairly well recently, with two wins and a draw under their belts. After the Christmas break, they will be putting everything into getting promotion from Division 2, them a boost for next year's All-Ireland campaign when they will be anxious to go one better. But will the effect of the defeat against Derry be too much to overcome? Not likely, according to Corkery. "In 1987 and '88, Cork were beaten in the All-Ireland finals but they came back to win it twice. I don't think we'll find it too hard to do that". The reappointment of Billy Morgan as football manager has meant that players, who might otherwise have retired, will stay with the team for another year at least, and will try to bring back Cork's seventh All-Ireland. "Hopefully we'll go one better", he remarks.
Written by the Hogan Stand Magazine
24th Oct 1993
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