John Fenton

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For other people named John Fenton, see John Fenton (disambiguation).
John Fenton
Personal information
Irish name Seán Ó Fionnachta
Sport Hurling
Position Midfield
Born (1955-12-11) 11 December 1955 (age 59)
Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Occupation Sales rep
Club(s)
Years Club
Midleton
Club titles
Cork titles 4
Munster titles 2
All-Ireland Titles 1
Inter-county(ies)
Years County Apps (scores)
1975-1987 Cork 31 (8-132)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 7
All-Irelands 2
NHL 5
All Stars 5

John Fenton (born 11 December 1955 in Midleton, County Cork) is an Irish former sportsperson. He played hurling with his local club Midleton and was a member of the Cork senior inter-county team from 1975 until 1987. Fenton is regarded as one of Cork's greatest-ever players.

Playing career[edit]

Club[edit]

Fenton played his club hurling with his local Midleton club and enjoyed much success. He played for the club’s minor team at the age of thirteen and started out his hurling life as a goalkeeper.[1] Fenton’s talents were later deployed to midfield where he became a key play-maker. He enjoyed little success in the minor or under-21 grades, however, in 1978 he captured a county intermediate championship winners’ medal with the club. This victory catapulted Midleton into the senior ranks of the county championship where he enjoyed the ultimate in terms of success throughout the 1980s.

Fenton won his first senior county senior championship title with the club in 1983. It was Midleton’s first senior county final triumph since 1916. Fenton’s side later had the honour of representing Cork in the provincial club championship. A 1-14 to 1-11defeat of Tipperary’s Borrisoleigh in the replay of provincial decider gave Fenton a coveted Munster club winners’ medal.[2] Midleton were later defeated by Gort in the All-Ireland club semi-final.[3]

Three years later in 1986 Fenton captured a second county title before adding a third county winners’ medal to his collection in 1987. Later that year Midleton won a second Munster club title following a one-point win over Cappawhite of Tipperary.[4] On St. Patrick's Day, 1988 Midleton lined out in the All-Ireland club final. Athenry of Galway provided the opposition, however, two early goals by Kevin Hennessy and a kicked goal by Colm O’Neill gave Midleton a 3-8 to 0-9 victory. This victory also gave Fenton a coveted All-Ireland club winners’ medal.[5]

Fenton won a fourth county title with the club in 1991, before retiring completely from hurling. He has remained involved with the club as a coach to the juvenile team.

Minor & under-21[edit]

Fenton first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Cork minor hurling team in the early 1970s. He enjoyed little success in this grade before later joining the county under-21 team.

Fenton enjoyed his first major success at inter-county level in 1975 when he captured his first Munster under-21 winners’ title following a 3-12 to 2-6 win over Limerick.[6] The subsequent All-Ireland final pitted Cork against fierce rivals. An entertaining and high-scoring hour of hurling followed, however, at the full-time whistle Kilkenny were the winners by 5-13 to 2-9.[7]

Fenton was still eligible to play for the Cork under-21 team in 1976. That year he added a second Munster winners’ title to his collection as Clare were accounted for.[8] The subsequent All-Ireland final pitted Cork against Kilkenny once again, however, on this occasion Cork had the upper hand. A 2-17 to 1-8 victory gave Fenton a coveted All-Ireland under-21 winners’ medal.

Senior[edit]

Fenton’s performances on the under-21 team earned him a call-up to the Cork senior team. He made his debut for at senior level in 1975 and came on as a substitute in the Munster final trouncing of Limerick.[9] It was his first Munster winners’ medal at senior level. Cork were defeated in the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final, however, the team captured three consecutive All-Ireland titles from 1976 until 1978.

Fenton, however, found it difficult to break onto that team and it was 1979 before he enjoyed further success. A 2-14 to 0-9 defeat of Limerick gave him a second Munster title on the field of play.[10] Cork were later stopped in their bid to win a fourth All-Ireland title in-a-row when they were defeated by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Cork’s championship success came to an end in 1980, however, Fenton did win a coveted National Hurling League title following a win over Limerick. A second National League title followed in 1980.[11]

In 1982 Fenton had another tough year as a senior hurler as he was dropped from the Cork team for certain key championship games. He did come on as a substitute in the 5-31 to 3-6 Munster final defeat of Waterford.[12] It was his third Munster winners’ medal on the field of play. Cork later lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny; however, Fenton played no part in that game.

In 1983 Fenton’s time on the subs’ bench was at an end and became a key member of Cork’s starting fifteen. He won a fourth Munster title that year as Cork trounced Waterford once again.[13] The subsequent All-Ireland final pitted Cork against Kilkenny for the second consecutive year. ‘The Cats’ used a strong wind to dominate the opening half and built up a strong lead. Cork came storming back with goals by Tomás Mulcahy and Seánie O'Leary, however, at the full-time whistle Kilkenny had won by 2-14 to 2-12.[14] In spite of this defeat Fenton was still presented with his first All-Star award.

Midleton’s club success in 1983 paved the way for Fenton to be appointed captain of the Cork team for 1984, the centenary year of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The year began well with Fenton guiding his team to victory in the special Centenary Cup competition. A fifth Munster winners’ medal soon followed for Fenton as Cork defeated Tipperary by 4-15 to 3-14 in a memorable Munster final.[15] The subsequent All-Ireland final, played at Semple Stadium in Thurles, saw Cork take on Offaly for the first time ever in championship history. The centenary-year final failed to live up to expectations and Cork recorded a relatively easy 3-16 to 1-12 victory.[16] Not only did Fenton capture a coveted All-Ireland winners’ medal but he also had the honour of lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup on behalf of his county. A second All-Star award quickly followed as well as a Texaco Hurler of the Year award.

In 1985 Fenton added a sixth Munster title to his collection as Cork defeated Tipperary by 4-17 to 4-11 in the provincial decider.[17] Cork, however, were later defeated by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. Fenton finished off the year by winning a third All-Star award.

In 1986 Cork made it five-in-a-row in Munster as Cork defeated Clare by 2-18 to 3-12 to take the provincial title.[18] It was Fenton’s seventh Munster winners’ medal. This victory paved the way for an All-Ireland final meeting with Galway. The men from the west were the red-hot favourites against an ageing Cork team, however, on the day a different story unfolded. Four Cork goals, one from Fenton, two from Tomás Mulcahy and one from Kevin Hennessy, stymied the Galway attack and helped ‘the Rebels’ to a 4-13 to 2-15 victory.[19] It was Fenton’s second All-Ireland winners’ medal. His fourth All-Star award followed.

In 1987 Fenton played in his last championship season with Cork. In the Munster semi-final replay against Limerick Fenton scored, what is often regarded as, the greatest hurling goal of all-time. Playing in his usual midfield position he struck the sliotar on the ground and scored a goal from forth-five yards out. In 2005 this goal was listed as one of RTÉs Top 20 GAA Moments. Fenton played his last game for Cork in a thrilling Munster final replay against Tipperary. The game ended in a 4-22 to 1-22 victory for Tipp and it was the first time in five years that Cork were not provincial champions.[20] Fenton's performance in the Munster championship was honoured yet again when he was presented with a fifth consecutive All-Star award.

Inter-provincial[edit]

Fenton also lined out with Munster in the inter-provincial hurling competition and enjoyed much success. He first lined out with his province in 1981 as Munster defeated arch-rivals Leinster by 2-16 to 2-6. It was his first Railway Cup winners’ medal. After a brief hiatus Fenton was back on the Munster team as captain in 1984. That year Leinster were the opponents again, however, Munster recorded another comprehensive victory giving Fenton a second Railway Cup title. In 1985 a third Railway Cup title followed as Connacht were accounted for. He was a member of the Munster team again in 1986 and 1987, however, the southern province was defeated on both these occasions.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O’Flynn, Diarmuid (2008). Hurling: The Warrior Game. The Collins Press. p. 160. 
  2. ^ "Club Championship Senior Hurling Munster Final Winning Teams". Munster GAA. Retrieved 2009-02-19. [dead link]
  3. ^ Donegan, Des (2005). The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games. DBA Publications. p. 100. 
  4. ^ "Club Championship Senior Hurling Munster Final Winning Teams". Munster GAA. Retrieved 2009-02-19. [dead link]
  5. ^ Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. p. 432. 
  6. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 48
  7. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 42
  8. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 48
  9. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  10. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  11. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 69
  12. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  13. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  14. ^ The GAA Book of Lists p. 361
  15. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  16. ^ The GAA Book of Lists p. 361
  17. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  18. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  19. ^ The GAA Book of Lists p. 361
  20. ^ Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 26
  21. ^ "Munster Railway Cup Hurling Teams". Munster GAA. Retrieved 2009-02-19. [dead link]
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jimmy Barry-Murphy
Cork Senior Hurling Captain
1984
Succeeded by
Ger Cunningham
Achievements
Preceded by
Sylvie Linnane
(Connacht)
Railway Cup Hurling Final
winning captain

1984
Succeeded by
Ger Cunningham
(Munster)
Preceded by
Liam Fennelly
(Kilkenny)
All-Ireland Senior Hurling
winning captain

1984
Succeeded by
Pat Fleury
(Offaly)
Awards
Preceded by
Frank Cummins
(Kilkenny)
Texaco Hurler of the Year
1984
Succeeded by
Eugene Coughlan
(Offaly)