Former Irish soccer great Noel Cantwell honoured in Cork

Roy Keane and John Delaney among those present for naming of pedestrian road

 

Former Irish soccer and cricket international Noel Cantwell was on Friday honoured in his native Cork when a pedestrian passageway near where he grew up in the city was named after him.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Mary Shields officially unveiled a plaque on Noel Cantwell Way off the Mardyke before an audience which included members of the late sport star’s family.

Mr Cantwell’s widow Maggie and his daughters Kate and Elizabeth travelled for the ceremony from Peterborough in the UK where Mr Cantwell died in 2005 at the age of 73.

Mrs Cantwell spoke warmly of the great welcome that the family had received in Cork and their delight that her late husband was being recognised by his home city in this fashion

“We are absolutely overwhelmed by the welcome we have received and we are delighted at this honour being given to my late husband – Noel was a true son of Cork,” she said.

“He loved this city and he was never more pleased when the children were young, than when we would sail up the Lee in the good old Innisfallen and spent our days in the Mardyke.”

Born on the Mardyke, Mr Cantwell played for Western Rovers and Cork Athletic before transferring to West Ham and later joining Manchester United with whom he won two leagues as well as captaining them to FA Cup success in 1963.

Among the many guests were FAI President Tony Fitzgerald, Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane and FAI Chief Executive John Delaney who praised Mr Cantwell.

“I would like to thank Cork City Council for the decision to give one of our greatest sportsmen proper recognition by naming this walkway after him,” said Mr Delaney.

“He was always proud to wear the Irish jersey and of course will always be remembered for his performances for Ireland as well as for Manchester Utd and West Ham Utd.

“Noel won his first Irish caps in the 1952/53 season when he was with West Ham and he was a towering presence until he won his 36th cap in the 1966/1967 season.

“And just to put in context. 36 caps back then would the equivalent of 70 or 80 caps today – there were very few internationals back then so to win 36 caps just shows how great he was.

“He played at left back but he had a great eye for goal – scoring 16 goals for West Ham, 19 for Manchester Utd and 14 for the Irish international team in 36 games – an incredible ratio.”

Munster Cricket Union President, David Griffin also lauded Mr Cantwell who won five cricket caps for Ireland and was so good he was offered a professional contract in the UK.

Former Irish rugby international, Noel Murphy recalled how Mr Cantwell was a fine rugby player and won a Munster Junior Cup medal with Cork Con before signing for West Ham.

“He was a fine rugby player and a very special person who was loved by Cork sports people – Cork people love all sports and we love our heroes and Noel was one of those.”

Cllr Mick Finn, who proposed a motion at Cork City Council to honour Mr Cantwell, said he was delighted that the late sports star was finally being recognised in his native city.

“I’m delighted that a man of Noel’s achievements is finally being honoured - it’s long overdue that the city recognises someone who achieved so much in soccer and cricket.”

“The turn out here today at the naming of Noel Cantwell Walk is testament to the regard he was held in – you have people here from all sports, soccer, cricket, rugby and GAA.”

Among the many other guests at the event on the Mardyke were former Irish rugby internationals, Tom Kiernan and Barry McGann and former cricket international, Pat Dineen.

Also present were ex-Cork Hibs player, Donie Wallace and ex-Cork Celtic player, Pat O’Mahony as well as Cork GAA medical officer, Dr Con Murphy.