Eight years after hosting their first tournament Carrig had the confidence to undertake another one, on a daunting scale, in 1897. This time there were competitions for first and second teams, in both football and hurling, attracting nearly 50 entries. At the February meeting to make the draw the Carrig chairman, Edmund Cotter, proudly announced that all the “crack” teams in the county had entered, “some of whom had secured the All Ireland championship more than once.”
However, there were teething problems. The draw was ‘sent to the secretary of the county board, Tom Dooley, along with a request to confirm that the execution of the draw met county board regulations. Mr Dooley replied that it did. A fortnight later, however, the draw was declared illegal at a meeting of the county board and Carrig were ordered to perform it again.
The tournament, due to begin on March 7th, was postponed. Carrig, however, decided to wait until after the county convention, later in March, before making another draw, “as the committee expect a little less trouble and a little more justice from the new board.” The tournament finally took off with a hugely impressive collection of clubs.
The full draw was:
Firsts Hurling Teams
Evergreen Nationals v Blackrock
Caherlag v United Nationals
Carrigtwohill v Aghada
St Finbarrs v Mayfield
Blarney v Midleton
Redmonds v Bride Valley
Lisgoold v Liscarroll
Seconds Hurling Teams
Aghada v Evergreen Nationals
Carrigtwohill v United Nationals
St Finbarrs v Mayfield
Caherlag v Blackrock
Midleton v Redmonds
Bride Valley v Liscarroll
Firsts Football Teams
Queenstown v Lisgoold
Midleton v Fermoy
O’Brien’s v Aghada
Killeagh v Cloyne
Carrigtwohill v Nil Desperandum
Castlemartyr a bye
Seconds Football Teams
O’Brien’s v Cloyne
Queenstown v Midleton
Fermoy v Nil Desperandum
Lisgoold v Castlemartyr
Our record of the tournament’s progress is very sketchy, but we know that by the end of 1897 the tournament had flown into turbulence from which it took months to emerge. It started when a football match between O’Brien’s and Nils ended in dispute. The tournament committee at first awarded the match to Nils but later decreed a replay. The referee agreed, while adding that, in his opinion, the match should have been awarded to O‘Briens.
O’Briens brought the matter before the county board whose patience with Carrig apparently snapped. The county board claimed they had received a number of other complaints about the running of the tournament and, in late October, decided to take control of it themselves.
Naturally this incensed Carrig who, in a letter to a county board meeting in early November, threatened to appeal the county board‘s action to the Munster Council. The board were unperturbed by Carrig’s threat and in the course of the evening’s business awarded the disputed match to O’Brien’s. Carrig though were true to their word, and going even further, took their case to the central council in late November.
What happened at the November meeting of central council at Mallow became a further point of contention between Carrig and the county board. John Grey, joint secretary of the Carrigtwohill tournament committee, spoke for nearly an hour about the issues involved, but pointed out later in a letter to the Examiner that he wasn‘t speaking on behalf of the tournament committee but on behalf of Nils, the other major aggrieved party in the whole affair.
He said that he gave “a plain, unvarnished account of the match between O‘Briens and Nils, but I most emphatically deny that I spoke there in my official capacity of co-secretary of the tournament committee. With regard to the Mallow meeting I have every reason to feel displeased at our treatment by the Cork delegates, who knew well that a deputation from our Club was in attendance relative to the high-handed proceeding of the county board in taking over the management of our tournament, and when at the meeting they were asked if Carrigtwohill were represented they replied in the negative, though at the time our representatives were outside the door”.
“This shows that they were afraid if the two sides got a fair hearing their conduct would not be sanctioned by the central council. When such pranks are practiced by the officers of the county board on one of the oldest clubs in Ireland I am inclined to believe that ‘things are becoming inverted, and that the sooner the constitution of this board is altered the better it will be for the Gaelic pastimes.”
In the course of that meeting in late November the Cork County Board’s actions were endorsed by the central council. But, by the time the Carrigtwohill delegation made themselves known, the meeting was already over and it was apparent that the case hadn’t been given a fair hearing. The Cork delegation were gone by that stage, but the officers of central council agreed that the case should be heard again at the next meeting in early December.
Dooley, the Cork County Board secretary, was outraged at what he perceived to be the improper conduct of business after the meeting was adjourned. He also claimed later that he had no prior knowledge that the Carrigtwohill tournament was up for discussion again at the December meeting, leaving him unprepared.
However, the issue was discussed at that December meeting and the Carrig deputation of JJ Kelleher, Patrick O‘Connell and EP Cotter were present to address it. Kelleher outlined the background of the case, pointing out that the tournament began in April and had been going well until the disputed match between O‘Briens and Nils on October 10th. He read letters from a number of clubs supporting Carrig‘s assertion that it was a well run tournament, and quoted similar opinions from five members of the county board.
He also pointed out that over £56 had already been spent to ensure the smooth running of the competition. Dooley responded by saying that the Cork County Board hadn‘t wished to take the tournament out of Carrig’s control but were prompted to do so by complaints from a number of clubs, some of whom, he noted, were now writing letters in support of Carrig.
Having heard both submissions the GAA president Frank Dinneen came down in favour of Carrig. According to the Examiner’s report the president “did not see what rule of the association gave the Cork County Board power to take over the management of this tournament. The county board had taken it upon themselves to make bye-laws against the constitution of the association and he failed to see how central council could recognise these byelaws. He believed the Carrigtwohill committee were as competent to carry out their tournament as any committee throughout the country and he knew Mr Kelleher to be an old and respected supporter of the Gaelic Association.”
A compromise motion was passed, which, though it upheld the county board‘s decision to award the disputed match to O‘Briens, was in every other respect a victory for Carrig. It read: “The Cork County Board in taking over the business of the Carrigtwohill tournament committee has acted illegally and not in accordance with the rule of the association which gives tournament committees the power to manage all matches in connection with such tournaments.”
“That the matches, if any, held in Cork Park today (fixed by the county board) be declared illegal, and that the Carrigtwohill tournament committee be empowered to renew the business of the tournament where it was broken off on the 10th of October. That the Carrigtwohill tournament committee accept the decision of the Cork County Board in the O‘Brien’s and Nils disputed match, and that the tournament committee can give a place in their future ties to O‘Briens.”
The issue, however, didn‘t rest there. At the next meeting of the central council in January Dooley made the loaded assertion that Dinneen, (GAA President) “had been well coached in the matter (of the Carrigtwohill tournament)”. Dinneen angrily rejected the insinuation of improper behaviour on his part and later in the meeting Dooley rowed back, explaining that in making his comments “he spoke under some excitement,” and accepted the President’s word on the matter. The depth of Dooley’s anger though was obvious and, at the first Cork County Board meeting of 1898, notice was given of the board’s intention to appeal.
At a club meeting in January Carrig fuelled hostilities further. In condemning the county board’s decision to take the matter further the chairman Edmund Cotter said that “Messrs Deering and Dooley had nothing to lose by their unjustifiable opposition as their expenses were paid out of county board funds”.
“In reference to this matter the chairman,” continued the Examiner, “was anxious to see that the funds of the county board were subjected to an independent audit as up to this he was unaware that the accounts of the board were ever independently audited.” Within two days Dooley responded on the letters page of the Examiner, inviting “any member of the Carrigtwohill club or any Gael in Cork county” to examine the accounts at any time.
The Cork County Board appeal was on the agenda for the February central council meeting in Dublin, but time ran out before it could be addressed and the issue was postponed until the March meeting which was scheduled for Cork. We have no account of that meeting but we know from county board reports that in the middle of April 1898 Carrig were still in charge of the tournament.
By the end of June, however, there were further cloudbursts. Carrig incurred the wrath of O’Brien’s again by expelling them from the tournament for fielding illegal players against Killeagh. O’Brien’s, naturally, appealed to the county board, but within a week it was thrown out.
By the end of September the county board was putting pressure on Carrig to bring the tournament to a conclusion,but, astonishingly, a month later, O’Brien’s and the tournament committee locked antlers again. Their second team failed to show up for a match against Fermoy‘s seconds, who were then awarded the match.
O’Brien’s wrote to the county board claiming that they had been unable to travel due to a “national demonstration in the city” and said that they had informed both Fermoy and Carrig of this in advance. Fermoy agreed to re-fix the match and Carrig seemed to let the matter rest at that.
We have no account of any of the tournament finals, but we believe that the tournament was finished before the end of November 1898. At a county board meeting on the last day of the month it was mentioned that “owing to defective arrangements on the part of the local committee the representatives of the board who attended at Carrigtwohill on Sunday to present the medals to the winning teams of the tournament lately held in that town, were unable to do so.” One last spat between the county board and the tournament committee.
Instead the presentation was rearranged for Cork on the following Sunday. We are certain that Carrig’s seconds weren’t in the medals as they lost to St Finbarrs, 3-4 to 2-3, but we have no record of how the firsts fared, nor the footballers – perhaps the first football team fielded by the club. In the circumstances, however, the performance of Carrig’s teams is incidental. Twenty months after the tournament began the monster had finally been wrestled into submission; that was achievement enough.
The tournament had not distracted Carrig from enjoying a reasonable season in the 1897 championships and a significantly better one a year later. The firsts beat Tracton easily in the first round, 4-4 to 0-3, before losing to Redmonds, although we have no account of that match.
Carrig (V Tracton): D O’Keeffe (c), D McCarthy, J Fitzgibbon, W Fitzgibbon, P Fitzgibbon, T Murphy, D Coughlan, John Fouhy, Jerh Fouhy, R Murphy, John Murphy, W Mulcahy, John O’Keeffe, T O’Keeffe, J O’Donovan, T Barry,
The seconds reached the county final again, with victories over Ballygarvan and Shanbally. Just like the year before Redmonds were their opponents in the final. The city team, however, had their revenge, though we have no record of
Carrig : M Kennedy (c), J Leahy, W Barry, J Kidney, D Kidney, T Forrest, M Mulcahy, D Buckley, T Morrisssey,
D Fitzgibbon, J Barry, M Lawton, D O’Leary, E O’Mahony, E Murphy, M Gillinan, P Twomey.
In 1898 it was the turn of the firsts to make an impression. The indications were good at the end of March when they played St Finbarrs in Midleton in a benefit match for the families of Rathcoursey fishermen who were apparently prosecuted in a manner which incensed the community at large. The match was reported to have been played in a championship tenor and Carrig were beaten by just two points, 2-7 to 2-5.
Their championship run began with a victory over Midleton, though it appears from the proceedings of a county board meeting early in May that there was some dispute over the fixing of the game. A letter from the Carrig secretary, John Joe Kelleher, stated that Carrig “would not spoil sport by refusing to meet Midleton, provided the match was fixed for Cork Park.” Carrig got their way with the venue and the county board chairman complimented Carrig on their sportsmanship.
When hostilities reached the field at the end of June Carrig won a good match: “Even the most partisan Carrig supporters couldn’t have quibbled had Midleton emerged with a share of the spoils,” reported the Examiner, “because the Magpies took the game to their opponents from the outset but saw good outfield possession wasted around goal. As time went on the big crowd got value for money and although scores were slow to come the match turned into a lively contest”.
“However the presence of James Mehigan, Dave Coughlan, William Mulcahy, John Linehan and James Cummins in vital areas of the field helped Carrig to make worthwhile progress and they held overall control late in the game to win by 2-3 to 1-2.”
After the victory over Midleton they beat Ballymartle, 1-8 to 0-3, at Cork Park in early August. The match was advertised for noon, by which time the referee and crowd were there, but neither team appeared on the field until an hour later, reportedly having come to some arrangement amongst themselves to delay the throw-in The referee said he would have walked away if it wasn‘t for the number of paying customers already in the ground.
The Examiner berated both teams for their ignorance and later the county board wrote to both Clubs looking for explanations. Carrig were, reportedly, flattered by the margin of victory but nevertheless the Examiner gave Carrig their due: “They are certainly a very well-drilled seventeen and the men keep their places admirably. It was this superiority and the possession of a couple of clever, cool scoring men that gave them the victory.”
In the semi-final at the end of August Carrig dismissed Aghabullogue, 4-7 to 1-3. Carrig failed to score against the wind in the first half, but overwhelmed their opponents after the break with John Fitzgibbon, William Mulcahy and Patrick Fitzgibbon leading the scoring. “In the second half Carrigtwohill played with great verve and dash,” reported the Examiner, “and showed their opponents no quarter as they kept piling up the scores. This a remarkable victory over the once All Ireland champions and it is the reward of industrious practice. The vast crowd recognised this and cheered Carrigtwohill lustily. ”
Blackrock were their opponents in the final, just as they had been in Carrig’s first senior final nine years earlier. The game was played on a foul September day, though this didn‘t deter a good crowd from turning up in Cork Park. Blackrock were clear favourites, having beaten St Finbarrs in the semi-final two weeks earlier, in what was accepted as the meeting of the two best teams in the county.
The Examiner, however, was deferential to Carrig’s virtues: “In Carrig, Blackrock faced opponents of no mean order, and in justice it must be said that they fought unflinchingly every inch of the ground, the back division putting in some very good work. The admirable scientific strokes of Blackrock, coupled with grand combination, proved entirely too much for their opponents, who frequently endeavoured to get Blackrock into close quarters without any material advantage.”
Carrig started well and were two points up before Blackrock got their first score. Blackrock’s score however was a goal and they never subsequently lost the lead. Play was delayed for a long period in the second half when the ball was struck out of the ground, but this pause did nothing to alter the course of the match. At half time Blackrock were 2-2 to 0-3 ahead, and by they end it was 2-9 to 0-3. For Blackrock, it was their fifth title in seven years, two of which they turned into All Irelands.
Carrig: Jerh Fouhy (c), John Barry, Pats O’Keeffe, Dan McCarthy, John Fitzgibbon, William Fitzgibbon, Pat Fitzgibbon, Thomas Murphy, John Linehan, John Cotter, James Mehigan, Dave Coughlan, Michael Cleary, John Murphy,
William Mulcahy, Jim Cummins, John O’Keeffe.
To compound a bad day, Carrig’s seconds lost in the semi-final of the county to Blarney, though we have no account of the match nor a record of the Carrig team.
A year later Carrig made little ground. The team was ageing. In May of 1899 they beat Blarney in the first round of the championship, 3-5 to 2-6, with two first half goals by one of the veterans, ‘Major’ Kennedy. The Examiner reported, respectfully, that the old ‘Major’ was “a hard nut to crack, despite the many summers that had passed over him.”
It was ‘Major’s’ last great performance and by 1902 his energies were devoted to the team’s management. It was a fitful kind of match, interrupted on a few occasions in the first half by the crowd infringing on the pitch and spoiled in the second by a rash of fouling. Carrig only added two points to their half time score, but Blarney added just one.
Carrig, however, were no match for the Barrs in the county semi-final. The city club were 2-4 to 1-0 ahead when, with ten minutes to go, Carrig left the pitch, alleging that some of their players had been “interfered with” by a section of the crowd. Unsurprisingly, the match was awarded to the Barrs who went on to beat Redmonds in the final.
Carrig: Jerh Fouhy (c), W Mulcahy, J Murphy, D O’Riordan, P Casey, J Twomey, W Leahy, T O’Keeffe, J Fitzgibbon, P Fitzgibbon, T Murphy, T O’Keeffe, M O’Brien, T Barry, P Barry, J Morrissey, Michael ‘Major’ Kennedy.
Carrig entered the seconds championship, and were drawn against Castletownroche, but neither team turned up in Cork Park for their fixture on the second Sunday of July and at the following week’s county board meeting both teams were thrown out of the championship.
In the autumn Carrig were embroiled in further controversy. Beaten by Killavullen in the Lees tournament, 1-7 to 2-1, they appealed the result to the county board, claiming that the Killavullen ball was not of the required weight and also that Killavullen had fielded an illegal player.
The Lees tournament committee wouldn‘t entertain the objection about the ball because it was not made until just before the throw-in. When it was weighed the ball was indeed found to be too light, but the county board didn‘t sustain that objection. Killavullen were awarded the match, pending further evidence from Carrig about the illegal player, and a week later Carrig produced it; Killavullen had fielded a Castletownroche player and Carrig were granted a replay.
We have no report of the replay, but we assume Carrig won because they were drawn to play Blackrock in the next round in the middle of December. However Carrig didn’t show up for the match in Turners Cross, and neither did the second team who were scheduled to play St Finbarrs.
Failure to fulfil fixtures like that reflected a difficult time in the club and in 1900 Carrig didn’t enter any teams in the championship. They changed their mind half way through the year, and Crosse and Blackwell, who had been granted a bye in the first round of the championship, were asked if they would play Carrig, but despite county board pressure they refused.
Carrig were still represented at the county board by EP Cotter and when trials were held to pick a Cork team in April Carrig were invited to send players. They also continued to take part in local tournaments, but it was obvious that the team was in need of repair. In one tournament in Killeagh, Carrig were beaten 4-15 to 1-1 by Dungourney – albeit a gifted Dungourney side who would win the senior championship two years later.
A year later Carrig recovered their balance and when they met Dungourney in the second round of the 1901 championship, at Midleton in early September, they were fit to share the same field. The Examiner was enchanted: “The match itself might be called a model one, for not alone was the use of the caman always skillfully shown, but not one moment of bad temper marred it throughout. Both teams possess the finest material for good hurlers as could be seen in the south and either might prove disastrous to the champions of Cork, or anywhere else.”
Dungourney led by a point at half time, 0-4 to 0-3, but two goals in quick succession, mid-way through the second half, turned the game in their favour and they ended up winning 2-6 to 1-3. Carrig, however, lodged an objection, claiming that three players from Midleton had lined out for Dungourney.
Midleton didn’t field a team that year and Dungourney argued that they were entitled to take players from a neighbouring parish, just as Midleton had taken Dungourney players when they didn’t field a team. The matter was argued at three county board meetings before finally Carrig were awarded the match. (Four of that Dungourney team went on to win the 1902 All Ireland with Cork, along with Bill Fitzgibbon from Carrig)
Carrig: W Fitzgibbon (c), J O’Keeffe (vc), P O’Keeffe, D Coughlan, P Fitzgibbon, W Leahy, J Fitzgibbon, J Fouhy,
M O’Brien, F Murphy, D Duggan, E Cummins, D Riordan, J Tabb, J Murphy, D Cotter, J Barry.
Carrig met the Barrs in the semi-final at Little Island, after the city team objected to Riverstown. According to the Examiner “an enormous crowd” turned up and the match was reportedly more satisfying than the 3-9 to 0-4 margin in favour of St Finbarrs suggests.
“The game was as good an exhibition of the hurling code as could be wished for, and though the difference in the final scores shows that St Finbarrs were vastly superior, yet by no means had they it all their own way. Carrigtwohill held them up splendidly at times, but any advantages gained in open play they could not turn to account and many of their attempts to penetrate the Barrs defence were rather easily diverted.”
Carrig: W Fitzgibbon (c), J O’Keeffe (vc), P O’Keeffe, M O’Brien, D Kidney, J Fouhy, J Murphy, P Fitzgibbon,
R Cotter, D Coughlan, W Leahy, D Duggan, D Buckley, J Cummins, E Cummins, D Riordan, J Tabb.
The match, however, had an unsavoury subtext when the referee was assaulted by a Carrig supporter. The county board wrote to the club seeking an explanation and in their reply the club said that “a minute inquiry had been made into the matter and the members of the club had failed to discover the name of the person who had struck the referee.”
The reply was considered inadequate by the board and Carrig were asked for another one. Carrig wrote back to the board asserting that the assault was committed by somebody unconnected with the club and condemning it in the strongest possible manner. The referee, Edward Fitzgerald, said at the meeting that the Carrig players had “behaved in a very sportsmanlike manner,” and asked that the matter be taken no further. His wish was granted.
Pitch incursions were a recurring problem at the time. Carrig hosted a double header in June of that year [notable for Gortroe‘s first ever competitive match) and were unable to marshal the crowds to the Examiner’s satisfaction: “An immense crowd attended which may be attributed to the great Gaelic revival which has taken place in that part of the county, because a number of new teams have been affiliated. It cannot be said that the arrangements on the field were altogether satisfactory.”
“On the village side of the field spectators were uncontrollable and could not be kept outside the line. In fact, on several occasions they were to be found almost at midfield, a fact which several times told very materially on the players. lt was always the weaker and losing side that was put about by the conduct of those whose anxiety to see all and whose disregard for common decorum prevented the majority of those in their vicinity from seeing anything.”
The progress achieved by the first hurling team in 1901 wasn‘t sustained in 1902. The omens were bad from the beginning. In the first week of January they got a hiding from St Finbarrs, 5-15 to 0-2, in the Cork City Harriers’ tournament and a month later were well beaten by Redmonds in the Barrack Street Band tournament, 5-9 to 1-2.
In April the club drew the wrath of the county board again, this time over the presence of bookmakers at a match held in Carrig “The county board had done all they could to put down gambling in the Gaelic field” said county board president Tom Dooley, “but they could not be held responsible for what occurred on last Sunday, for they had handed it (the fixture) over to the Carrigtwohill men.”
“The president brought it to the attention of one of the Carrig stewards but he replied that he was powerless alone. If the county board had a match played on the grounds again they would first have to get a guarantee that such a thing should not be allowed.” Carrig must have allayed the county board‘s concerns because two weeks later the delayed 1901 senior football final between Nils and Fermoy was played in Carrig and passed off without a bookie in sight.
Carrig form improved in the run-up to the championship, first with a crushing 3-15 to 0-0 victory over Knockraha in the Killeagh tournament and then with a narrow defeat to Sars, 3-7 to 1-8, in a tournament to fund the erection of a “national monument” on Grand Parade. They went on to beat St Mary’s easily in the first round of the championship, 9-11 to 1-2.
In the next round, however, they were beaten 4-11 to 4-5 by Churchtown, undermined by a defence which was reported to be unusually meek. There was just a point between the teams at half time, with Carrig trailing 2-4 to 2-3: “Starting the second half the Churchtown men pressed at once,” reported the Examiner, “and as they met with only a weak resistance they soon commenced scoring quickly.”
“The play was tame and at times when the Churchtown men appeared to awake to the necessity of putting forward an effort they were but little impeded in their progress through the field by the Carrig men. A few times during the half some exciting passages and individual good play occurred, but taken as a whole, the combined and sustained efforts that mark hurling of a first class order were absent.”
Carrig: J O’Keeffe (c), D Coughlan, P Fitzgibbon, T Murphy, D Higgins, M O’Brien, J Fouhy, J Mulcahy, J Cummins, D McCarthy, P Lynch, L Cotter, D O’Keeffe, P O’Keeffe, J Lawton, D Buckley, W Lawton.
The high point of the season was probably the performance against Dungourney at the Killeagh tournament in the middle of June. The sides were level at half time, but Carrig entered a four point lead in the second half and were only just pipped in the end by a point, 1-8 to 2-4. Later in the year Dungourney went on to win their first county championship.
The seconds won their first round against Sars, and went on to beat Gortroe in the next round. Gortroe appealed the
result to the county board claiming that Carrig had fielded a firsts player, but the objection was unsustained The championship ran over into 1903 and in the first week of March Carrig were well beaten by St Finbarrs, 4-8 to 1-4.
Carrig: J Fitzgerald (c), D Fitzgibbon, T Hartnett, P O’Connell, D Twomey, D Lane, W Daly, T Collins, P Lynch,
M Mulcahy, EP Cotter, J Barry, T Mulcahy, M Kennedy, M Kiely, M Healy.
Off the field the club was enduring some administrative difficulties. In the spring the county board granted their request to hold a tournament, but at the end of August the club decided to abandon the event. A couple of weeks earlier a seconds fixture between Youghal and O‘Briens was staged badly in Carrig. The pitch wasn’t marked and, according to a report of the county board meeting, “the owner of the field Mr Lane would not allow anyone inside it until a sum of money was put down, half of which sum was paid by the county board and the other half by the Carrigtwohill men.” It probably didn’t help that Carrig’s championship match against Churchtown was on at the same time in Killeagh.
A few months later the Carrig field was the subject of further complaints, this time because of its location. In a letter to the Examiner a GAA supporter from the city chronicled his ordeal: “The only train to Carrigtwohill was at l0am. The match was to be played at 1pm, but did not take place until 2.30. The city folk had to take the train to Queenstown Junction and then walk to Carrigtwohill and expecting to see the field near the village were told that the field was one and a half miles up the road.
“They had to wade one and a half miles along a muddy road without a side walk until they reached a field immediately in front of a river from which blew a strong, cold wind which was anything but pleasant for spectators or players. We could only see one match (of a double bill) when the majority had to leave to catch the train to Cork. Now, had these matches been played at Queenstown or Queenstown Junction, or near the village, it would greatly facilitate the public. The idea of fixing the matches for a field so inconvenient is ridiculous and was strongly commented upon.”
Carrig ended 1902 with victories for the firsts and seconds in the early rounds of the Rathcormac tournament and in spite of the trials it was nonetheless a significant year for the club. Bill Fitzgibbon was picked for the Cork team that won the 1902 All Ireland, a decade after Pats Keeffe had brought the first All Ireland medal to the parish.
Cork won the Munster championship that year with victories over Clare, Kerry and Limerick, Crushed Galway in the All Ireland semi-fìnal and met Dublin in the fìnal. It finished level the first day, l-7 to 1-7, but Cork easily won the replay, 2-6 to 0-1. At this time London had automatic entry into the All Ireland final and in 1901 they had caused a huge upset by beating Cork. The 1902 final wasn’t played until September 1904, but Cork hadn’t forgotten their lesson and annihilated London, 3-13 to 0-0. The final marked the opening of the Cork Athletic Grounds, before an attendance estimated at 20,000, a massive crowd for the era.
Bill was one of seven sons. His father, Edmond, took little interest in the game, but hurling was in the family. He was a cousin of Fr Edwin Fitzgibbon, Professor of Philosophy at UCC, who donated the cup for the universities hurling competition, while two of his brothers, Patrick (Bobna) and John were outstanding hurlers, both of whom played for Cork in the 1899 championship. Bill’s four other brothers emigrated to America. Bill made an impression as an 18 year old on the Carrig team that won the seconds Championship in 1896; a year later he graduated to the senior team. He was a tall, round-shouldered, left-handed corner back and powerful with it in an era when it was best not to be faint. His son Sammy remembers Bill coming home from matches on Sundays “when the shirt would be stuck to his back with blood.”
He suffered a serious injury, however, late in his career when a slap of a ball burst one of his ear drums, leaving him with impaired hearing for the rest of his life.
Though his career included spells with Collegians and Redmonds he was back with Carrig for the intermediate Championship victory of 1909 and continued to play for a few years afterwards. Indeed, his longevity gave him the distinction of playing championship hurling in the days of 21-a-side, 17-a-side and 15-a-side, which was introduced in 1913. Bill died in 1955 at the age of 77.
In the early years of the century the county championships were thrown wildly off schedule by a playing calendar congested with tournaments. All of the tournaments were sanctioned by the county board, but very few were completed in good time. The draw for the 1903 senior hurling championship, for example, didn’t take place until June of that year and with a bumper entry of 26 teams the final didn’t take place until April of 1904.
In the first round Carrig easily beat St Mary’s, 5-14 to 0-4, but their conduct made the Examiner cross: “While Carrig played a good game they should be much cooler. As it was yesterday’s match was characterised by a series of frees awarded to St Mary’s for fouls committed. At least on one occasion the foul seemed to be premeditated.” We have no record of later rounds, but Carrig didn’t reach the county fìnal.
Carrig: J O’Keeffe (c), D O’Keeffe (vc), J Mulcahy, J Fouhy, M Fouhy, J O’Brien, D Coughlan, L Cotter,
P Fitzgibbon, W Fitzgibbon, J Cummins, E Cummins, J Barry, D Twomey, J Horgan, T Fitzgerald.
The first round of the seconds championship wasn‘t played until the end of September and Carrig lost to Inniscarra, 3-10 to 1-8. The Examiner reported “a good deal of missing and with practice a good deal of improvement could be effected in both teams as there is undoubtedly some splendid material amongst the individual players.” Carrig trailed by 2-6 to 1-2 at half time and though they improved in the second half they never threatened to overhaul the deficit.
Carrig: E Cotter (c), T Collins, P Hartnett, T Howard, M Fouhy, M Barry, T Mulcahy, W Daly, J Ryle, M Healy,
J Cashman, P O‘Connell, T Fitzgerald, P Twomey, D Buckley, E Walsh, M Savage.
Our record of Carrig’s participation in tournaments during 1903 is random. They hammered Lisgoold by 7-13 to 0-0 in the Queenstown tournament in January but ultimately went out to Redmonds eight months later, 3-2 to 0-2; the seconds lost to Redmonds too on the same day, 6-6 to 1-4.
In June Carrig were dismembered by Evergreen in the National Monument tournament at Turner’s Cross, 6-16 to 2-2, but the year wasn‘t without its compensations. On St Patrick’s Day the firsts qualified for the final of the Rathcormac tournament with a 2-8 to 1-6 victory over Castletownroche. The seconds had already won their semi-final and both finals were played as a double header in the middle of April.
Bands from Ballynoe, Bartlemy and Rathcormac entertained a large crowd on a pet day, but it started badly for Carrig. The firsts relinquished a two point half time lead against Dungourney to lose by 2-4 to 0-3. The seconds, however, had better luck. They led Bartlemy by 2-2 to 0-1 at half time and held on comfortably to win by 2-9 to 0-7.
Carrig (firsts): T Fitzgerald (c), J Barry, W Daly, W Lawton, D Twomey, J Mulcahy, T Collins, J Horgan, M Ryle,
P Connell, M Healy,F Walsh, T Howard, W Kennedy, P Fitzgerald, EP Cotter, J Hogan.
That tournament took just four months to complete but such efficiency was uncommon at the time. Carrig were as culpable as any. They were due to play Aghada in the Youghal tournament on the last Sunday of November but wrote to the tournament committee saying that two of their players had been involved in accidents and asked for a postponement.
The committee refused because the request had been at such short notice, but then on the morning of the match the tournament secretary received a telegram from the Aghada team also asking for a postponement, given Carrig’s misfortune. The secretary then granted the postponement, but to compound the confusion Aghada turned up at the ground in Copper Alley. The referee awarded the match to Aghada and the Examiner described the affair as “another of the recurring fiascos in connection with GAA tournaments.”
It was reflective of the times. The Cork County Board were in such disarray in 1904 that the convention for that year didn’t take place until May; a year later things had got even worse and no championships were held. Turmoil at the county board didn’t inconvenience Carrig unduly; they had their own mess.
They entered two teams for the Carrigaline tournament in April of 1904, but neither team turned up on the day. The club was in crisis. At the county board meeting on May 11th a letter was read from the Carrig secretary “stating that the body had been dissolved and that they could not field a team and asking permission for some of the team to join Midleton. The permission was granted on condition that a list of names were supplied to the board.” A week earlier J O‘Keeffe and J Cummins had attended the’ county board convention, but according to the secretary‘s letter, they attended on their own account and did not represent the club.“
The only Carrig team to take the Held in 1904 was the Schools Shield team. The competition was inaugurated a year earlier but this is our first record of the existence of hurling in the school. In the first round they hammered Carrigaline at Turner‘s Cross, 5-9 to 1-4, but Ringaskiddy proved too good in the next round. “The Ring lads appeared the heavier and soon forced the play,” according to the Examiner. “Their strong sweeping pucks seemed too much for the more scientific but weaker play of their opponents and in consequence a goal was gained by them soon after the start.”
There were no County championships held in 1905 and it was later decided that the winners of the 1906 championship would also be declared the 1905 champions. That was of no consequence to Carrig who didn’t field a senior team in 1906, though they still had a presence at the county board through Mr C Moynihan, a teacher in the boys’ school.
Carrig, however, did field a hurling team in the minor Championship of 1906. Between 1904 and 1920 minor didn’t refer to under 18 competition but was an adult grade equivalent to junior B in modern terms. We are unsure if this was Carrig’s first team that year, but we have no record of any other team.
Carrig beat Blarney in the first round, but went out to Cloughduv in the next round after a replay. Cloughduv had won the original match, but Carrig objected on the grounds that some of the Cloughduv players were not registered. The appeal was upheld by the county board but, according to the Examiner, “Carrig, acting in a most sportsmanlike fashion, declined to accept a cheap victory,” and asked for a replay. The outcome, however, was no different from the first match and Carrig were soundly beaten, 6-ll to 1-8.
Things picked up a little when Carrig fielded a team for the seconds Championship of 1907, though they made no progress. In December of that year, however, a hugely significant meeting was held in Carrig to establish an East Cork hurling league.
According to the Examiner the delegates “complained at the limited number of engagements during the year, with the result that they found it very difficult to keep the members of their clubs in the association. They also considered that the formation of the league would induce many other districts within the division to organise clubs, owing to the number of matches every club would be entitled to play in a league system. ”
Over the next couple of decades the league flourished and in the short term the rising tide was about to lift Carrig too.