When Carrig line up for the final of the 2011 Cork County Senior Hurling Championship, they will be contesting their eighth senior decider, spanning three centuries and virtually the entire life-span of the GAA in Cork.
An unbroken tradition of involvement in the club’s affairs runs in many families from day one to the present day. However, when Niall McCarthy lines out with his team mates against CIT, he will be continuing a direct family link, spanning five generations, with all eight final appearances by the club. This must surely be a unique record in the history of this great championship.
When Carrig lost to Blackrock in the 1889 final by 2-4 to 1-0, their line-out included Michael ‘Major’ Kennedy, Niall’s great-great grandfather, who played a significant role within the club for many decades both on and off the field.
In 1898 when Carrig contested their second final the team included Danny McCarthy, Niall’s great grandfather. Blackrock, who dominated Cork hurling in the early years, were again the opposition and won by 2-9 to 0-3. Danny was later to marry ‘Major’ Kennedy’s daughter Bridgie.
Carrig won their only senior county championship to date in 1918, when they gained revenge on Blackrock by winning 4-1 to 1-7. The team was captained by Billy Kennedy and included his brother Jimmy ‘Major’ Kennedy at full forward, who scored the winning goal. They were great granduncles of Niall’s. Jimmy was one of Cork’s all time great full forwards. Following Carrig’s success in 1918, he went on to captain Cork to All-Ireland glory in 1919, after a 16 year wait.
A remarkably consistent Carrig team qualified for four senior hurling finals in the 1930s. In 1932 St. Finbarrs won 5-3 to 4-4, and in the ’33 decider Carrig drew with the same opponents before losing the replay 6-6 to 5-0. Carrig turned the tables on the Barrs in the 1935 semi-final, but the final against Glen Rovers was not played due to the County Board’s refusal to agree to Carrig’s request for a postponement because so many players were injured. In 1937 Glen Rovers had a decisive 3-5 to 1-0 victory to complete the fourth leg of a record eight county titles in a row. Danny McCarthy, Niall’s grandfather, was on the team for all four finals, and his granduncle, Mickey McCarthy, (famous hurley-maker) was on the team for three finals, ’32, ’33 and ’35.