Substitution for Cobh Ramblers. Jimmy Barry Murphy replaces Liam Brady.
No, it’s not a mistake. It is that Liam, that Jimmy and that Cobh. It did happen.
The occasion was the late Alex Ludzik’s testimonial match between Cobh Ramblers and Cork City. The game was played in Turners Cross on May 23rd 1990.
Both squads contained guest players including ex-teammates of Ludzik.
The aforementioned Jimmy was joined by fellow GAA star Dinny Allen, Cork soccer legends Miah Dennehy and Donie Madden, Nottingham Forests Tommy Gaynor and Shrewsbury Town\Limericks no nonsense defender Tommy Lynch.
Denis Irwin who at that time was about to move from Oldham to Manchester United was named in the squad initially but did not play which was the case with new Man United recruit and ex Cork City player Brian Carey.
Ludzik’s teammate at Cobh Roy Keane missed the game as he was about to sign for Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest.
However, the big stars of the night were Brady and Ludzik.
Liam Brady had played top-level football in both England and Italy. Spending 7 years at Arsenal before joining Juventus. He would spend another 7 years in Italy’s top division before finishing his career at West Ham.
In fact, he had played his last game with the Hammers and scored his last goal just over 2 weeks previous against Wolves.
Ludzik said about playing that night ” I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity of playing with one of the world’s best footballers.”
Alex Ludzik himself was a Cork goalkeeping legend. The Englishman had moved from Derby County to Cork Celtic in 1969. He would win a league medal in 1974 with Celtic before continuing his career with Cork Alberts\United, Limerick City and at the time of this game Cobh Ramblers.
He would be in the Cork City squad that won the league in 1993 and continue as City’s number 2 deep into his forties.
On that night in 1990 the late evening sun shone strongly towards “The Shed” end as Brady graciously signed autographs and stood for photos (pre-camera phones) on his way to the dressing room.
Both teams formed a guard of honour at the gate that connected the dressing room to the pitch.
City players wore their away strip of red jerseys with white sleeves and red shorts while Cobh wore white tops and sky blue shorts.
Once Brady had walked through to applause, he joined the rest who with the 2,200 in attendance warmly and loudly welcomed Alex Ludzik together with son Gary on to the pitch.
Starting for City were Harrington, Long, Kenneally, Daly, Freyne, O’Regan, Cotter, Nagle, Bannon and Morley.
While for Cobh Ludzik, Van Wijnen, Lynch, Neiland, O’Keeffe, O’Halloran, Brady, Hoare, Gaynor, Hogan and Fenton started.
Referee Pat Kelly (whose linesmen included Ludzik’s ex Derby and Cork Celtic teammate Barry Notley) got the game under way and the crowd were treated to plenty of goals in the first half.
It only took 8 minutes before Paul Bannon playing up front on this occasion for City placed a low ball passed Ludzik to make it 1-0.
On 16 minutes, Brady chipped a ball over the defence and Paul Hogan volleyed it beneath Phil Harrington for the equaliser.
Six minutes later Bannon threaded a ball to Kieran Nagle who slided it past the Cobh goalkeeper to make it 2-1.
City won a corner four minutes later and Patsy Freyne’s delivery was glanced on by the head of Pat Morley to make it 3-1.
Then Tommy Gaynor released Kieran Hoare down the wing whose cross was headed home by Darren Fenton to make it 3-2.
Just before half time Fenton was replaced by Cobh legend Bob Donovan who proceeded to make an immediate impact. Brady took a quick free and with his first touch, Donovan tucked the ball home to make it 3-3 at the break.
Miah Dennehy, who had scored a hat trick in an FAI cup final was introduced at half time for Cobhs Paul Hogan.
After half time the first major action saw City’s goalkeeper Phil Harrington bring Kevin Kearney down in the box. The referee had no choice but to award a penalty. His teammates called upon Ludzik to take it.
Having strolled up the length of the Tuners Cross turf he unfortunately saw his shot saved by the Welshman in the City goal.
Ludzik would leave the field on 65 minutes to an ovation (everyone was standing already) replaced by Cobh local and future City goalkeeper Michael Devine.
On 70 minutes saw the unique occasion when Cobh replaced Liam Brady with the one and only Jimmy Barry Murphy. A man who was a deity in Cork circles even then.
Barry-Murphy had played with Ludzik in the Cork Celtic teams in the early 1970’s.
Cork Gaelic football star Dinny Allen who had played with Alex Ludzik at Cork United replaced City’s Liam Murphy while Donie Madden, Cork Citys first ever captain replaced Pat Morley.
Patsy Freyne who had enjoyed a battle with Brady in the middle of the field, rifled home a low ball past Devine in the Cobh goal to make it 4-3 and end the scoring.
Sadly, in December 2002 Alex Ludzik died unexpectedly. On the following Sunday Ireland’s top level of football showed its respect with a minutes silence. Between the posts for Cork City that day and continuing the Cork goalkeeping legacy was Michael Devine the man who replaced him on that special night in May 1990.