Carrigaline celebrate historic hurling success

10 February 2009
After years of defeats in both hurling and football, Carrigaline finally came good at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on October 12 last when they won the Cork intermediate hurling championship for the first time. Remarkably, the success was the club’s first at county adult level in either code.

One of the longest famines endured by any club finally came to an end last October when Carriagline put 124 years of heartbreak and disappointment behind them by capturing the Cork intermediate hurling championship for the first time.

The outpouring of emotion that followed their 1-13 to 0-10 victory over Bandon at Pairc Ui Chaoimh summed up what it meant to players and supporters to have finally broken their duck and put silverware on the table after many years of trying. It was the breakthrough many in Carrigaline had feared they would never live to see after all the setbacks that had gone before.

"One-hundred-and-twenty-four years was an awful long to be waiting to win your first county adult title," says both a delighted and relieved Carrigaline PRO Alan Murphy.

"We’ve always produced good players, but for some reason, it just never happened for us until now. We’re one of the oldest clubs in the country, founded in the same year as the GAA itself (1884), and to have finally made the breakthrough is an incredible feeling. The weight of history has been lifted off everyone’s shoulders," he adds.

Despite competing in numerous county finals in both hurling and football down the years, Carrigaline had failed to win any until they finally rid themselves of their bridesmaid’s tag last October. They were runners-in the 1956, ’58 and 2006 intermediate hurling finals, losing to Ballymartle in the latter year. It had been a similar story in football, with the records showing that the men from the Carrigdhoun division lost the intermediate deciders of 1996, 2003 and 2007.

"We had a terrible record in finals, but thankfully we’ve now taken our first step towards putting that right," Alan says.

"We lost the 2006 intermediate hurling final to Ballymartle, and the 2003 and 2007 intermediate football finals to Ilen Rovers and Grenagh. Bishopstown also beat us in the 2007 under 21 hurling final, but those disappointments were forgotten about last October."

Carrigaline’s historic success was masterminded by manager Jerry O’Sullivan, coach Tony O’Donovan and selectors Liam Walsh, Pat Corcoran and Tom Jones. A native of nearby Ballygarvan and a renowned greyhound trainer, O’Sullivan’s grandson Michael lined out at wing forward in the final, making it a real family affair.

The management left no stone unturned in their pursuit of the Holy Grail, with the players raising their performance in every game since the first round victory over St. Finbarr’s in Shanbally in early May. Tony Murphy returned from the US to score the only goal in Carrigaline’s 1-12 to 0-14 victory over Barryroe which saw them advance to a semi-final meeting with Kanturk.

Played in Coachford on a sunny September evening, Carrigaline came out on top thanks to goals from county minor Simon O’Brien and Tony Murphy. That victory set the scene for a county final showdown with Bandon, who were aiming to make amends for their defeat in the 2007 decider and were widely fancied to do so.

But determined not to leave Pairc Ui Chaoimh empty-handed again, Carrigaline produced a dominant performance to win by six points. They were fitter, sharper and hungrier, and had three outstanding forwards in Simon O’Brien, Stephen Corcoran and substitute David Drake, who all contributed scores. By contrast, Bandon were almost totally dependant on Darren Crowley for scores. He accounted for 0-6 of their tally, while Darren O’Donoghue - who was surprisingly taken off - scored two.

A first minute point from rising star Simon O’Brien set the tone for the rest of the game, and it was immediately followed by a long-range free from Joe Moran. Bandon were level by the 12th minute before Stephen Corcoran slotted over two frees to make it 0-4 to 0-2.

Bandon again drew level before Tony Murphy and Stephen Corcoran had points to restore Carrigaline’s advantage. But Bandon registered the last two scores of the half to go into the interval on level terms.

Jerry O’Sullivan’s charges edged into a 0-7 to 0-6 lead three minutes after the restart when Cork football star Nicholas Murphy set up his brother Peter for the lead point. Bandon regained parity once again, but they were coming under increasing pressure as the substitutes Carrigaline had introduced at half-time began to make their mark.

One of them, Cork minor David Drake, scored his first point in the ninth minute and this was added to by Wesley O’Brien and Drake again which put Carrigaline four in front.

Bandon came back to within one again before Stephen Corcoran pointed and then Simon O’Brien rattled the net to give Carrigaline some real breathing space for the first time. Corcoran landed another point from a free to put six between the teams. To their credit, Bandon never gave up but they were unable to breach the South-East team’s defence which was superbly marshalled by man of the match Paul Foster and Joe Moran.

There were joyous scenes at the final whistle as Carrigaline wildly celebrated their finest hour. Peter Murphy became the first player from the club to raise a county championship cup and the sight of club president Daithi O’Donovan holding the trophy aloft also brought a huge cheer from the crowd.

The homecoming in Carrigaline the following night was a fitting tribute to the team and management. Huge crowds lined the streets of the village as an open-top bus carrying the players followed the Carrigaline Pipe Band. Earlier that day, the players had received a terrific reception when they visited the local schools with the intermediate cup.

Since the success, Joe Moran, Stephen Corcoran and Wesley O’Brien have been drafted into Cork manager Gerald McCarthy’s new-look squad. And towering full forward Nicholas Murphy has been to San Francisco with the football All-Stars.

Unlike in most other counties, winning the intermediate championship in Cork doesn’t earn Carrigaline promotion to the senior ranks. Instead, they will compete in the ’premier’ intermediate championship in 2009.

"The ’premier’ championship in Cork would be as strong as a lot of senior championships around the country, so we know it will be a big step-up," the Carrigaline PRO says.

"But the best is yet to come from this team which features just four players over the age of 22. Many of them played on our successful Feile team of a few years ago and they are no strangers to success."



The Carrigaline team which captured the Cork IHC title was: M Webb; C Lynch, P Foster, G Dillon; J Cowhig, J Moran, P Ronayne; P Murphy, G Harrington; M O’Sullivan, T Murphy, S O’Brien; S Corcoran, N Murphy, W O’Brien. Subs used: D Drake, R Keohane and C Hurley.