Tributes paid to former Cork hurling manager Archdeacon Michael O’Brien

‘The Canon’, a double All-Ireland winner with the Rebels, died on Friday after a long illness

Tributes have been paid to double All-Ireland-winning Cork hurling coach Archdeacon Michael O’Brien, who died on Friday in a nursing home following a long illness.

A native of Innishannon, Archdeacon O’Brien - affectionately known as ‘The Canon’ - together with Justin McCarthy coached Cork to All-Ireland hurling success in Centenary Year in 1984.

But arguably his greatest achievement came six years later when he coached an unfancied Cork team to All-Ireland glory against Galway in a thrilling game which they won 5-15 to 2-21.

En route, Cork surprised the previous year's All-Ireland champions, Tipperary, in a Munster final winning by eight points with newcomer Mark Foley scoring 2-7 from play.


The run up to the game was notable for a comment by Tipperary manager Babs Keating that "donkeys don't win derbies", which 'The Canon' exploited to motivate his players to victory.

Archdeacon O'Brien's success in coaching the Cork hurlers to All-Ireland glory marked the first leg of a historic double as two weeks later Billy Morgan coached the footballers to similar success with Teddy McCarthy becoming the only man to win All-Ireland medals in both codes on the field of play in the same year.

Archdeacon O'Brien also enjoyed considerable success with UCC, whom he coached to eight consecutive Fitzgibbon Cup titles in the 1980s, when among his protégés was Nicky English.

Archdeacon O'Brien also coached St Finbarr's Farranferris - where he taught for a period- to five Dr Harty Cup wins between 1969 and 1974 as well as two All-Irelands in 1972 and 1974.

Last night, Cork All-Ireland winning hurling captain in 1990 and Sunday Game pundit Tomás Mulcahy described the late Archdeacon O’Brien as a “legend of Cork hurling.

Archdeacon O’Brien- who died at Nazareth Home near Mallow following a long illness - will be buried following requiem mass at St Mary’s Church, Innishannon at 12 noon on Monday.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times