Seanie O’Leary 1952 – 2021.
Seanie attended Clonmult National School 1956-1964. His father was Headmaster in Clonmult from 1955 to 1970. In those days before “Ball Walls” were the in thing Seanie was honing his skills on the road outside the Masters residence, now the home of Mick and Aileen Hegarty, where he had just the width of the road with a wall in front and behind. This in time made him deadly accurate in tight corners.
In those days like now underage was a parish team. In 1964 his education took him to St. Colman’s College Fermoy. When it came time to move on from underage to an adult club Fr. Con O’Donovan got him to sign up with Dungourney, the club his Grandfather Tom O’Mahony won three County Senior Hurling titles with 1902, ‘07, ‘09. They also won the All-Ireland in 1902. Dungourney and Seamus O’Leary, Seanie’s father had old history and the thought of he “Seanie” following in his grandfather’s footsteps and wearing the “Sash” was not to his liking, so the signing was discarded and he joined Youghal.
As a player for Cork on the inter-county scene Seanie carved out a reputation for himself as a deadly goal-poacher who could produce a goal out of nothing. He first came to prominence in 1969 when he won a Munster title at minor level. Overall Seanie had a brilliant underage career at County level, winning two Munster and two All-Ireland Minor titles 1969 and 1970. As an U21 player he won two Munster titles, in 1971 and 1973 and three All-Ireland titles in 1970, 1971 and 1973.
By this stage Seanie had made his debut on the Cork senior hurling team and in 1972 he claimed his first National Hurling League title. He then went on to win his first Senior Munster medal that same year. Cork were beaten by Kilkenny in one of the classic games of that era, Seanie won a second National League title in 1974. In 1975 he won his second Munster Senior medal. However, Cork were beaten by Galway in the semi-final. In 1976 Seanie won his third provincial title, a victory that allowed Cork to advance directly to the All-Ireland final. The “Rebels” faced a nightmare start as Wexford scored two goals in the first eight minutes. Cork settled into the game and won on a score line of 2-21 to 4-11, giving him his first Senior All-Ireland title. His performance throughout the season earned him an All-Star at corner forward.
In 1977 Seanie won a fourth Munster title and Cork qualified for a second consecutive All-Ireland Final with Wexford. During the pre-match warm-up, Seanie got hit in the face with the Sliothar, suffering a broken nose. He missed the parade before the game due to his injury but he played the full seventy minutes. He collected a second All-Ireland medal that day and a second All Star also that year. 1978 saw Seanie collect his fifth provincial medal. It was a special year for Cork hurling as the team later defeated Kilkenny in the final, giving Seanie his third All-Ireland medal in a row. Cork lost the following year in the Semi-final to Galway. In 1980 and 81 Cork won back to back National League titles bringing Seanie’s tally to four.
In 1982 he won his seventh Munster title but lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny. Seanie won his eight Munster medal in 1983 but lost the final once again to Kilkenny. In 1984 he gave his most outstanding display in a Cork jersey. Cork were trailing by four points with four minutes to go when Seanie and Tony O’Sullivan combined to score two quick goals to take Cork into the Final. Having lost the two previous All-Ireland finals Cork made no mistake of disposing of Offaly in a very special All-Ireland final at Semple Stadium in Thurles. This was a special win for Cork and for Seanie as it was the Centenary year of the GAA hence it being played in Thurles. It was O’Leary’s fourth All-Ireland and his last game for Cork. He was once again honoured with a third All-Star.
Munster Minor Hurling: 1969, 1970.
All-Ireland Minor Hurling: 1969, 1970.
Munster U/21 Hurling: 1971, 1973.
All-Ireland U/21 Hurling: 1970. 1971, 1973.
Senior Inter County Hurling.
National Hurling League: 1972, 1974, 1980, 1981.
Munster Titles: 1972, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 84.
All-Ireland Senior Titles: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam dílis.
Ni bheidh a leitheid ann aris.