History - Football
There was an overwhelming sense of renewal in 1908. The adult teams were back on a stable footing but perhaps even more significantly the club organised a vibrant parish league. The Sportsman, a weekly newspaper which covered local sport between 1908 and 1911, reported on the regeneration of the club.
“Latest news from Carrig informs us that they are going strong… preparing for championships and other competitions. With this end in view they have established a parish league and four teams are taking part, the Village, Water Rock, Woodstock and Barryscourt. It is certainly encouraging to see 68 members of one club playing in these practice matches and speaks well for the enthusiasm of the boys there, and volumes for the energetic secretary, Mr Patrick O‘Connell, who is ably seconded by Messrs Willie Ahern, Jeremiah Fouhy and Daniel Murphy. About 18 months ago no club existed in Carrig but thanks to the exertions of the above Gaels we find the good old team forging ahead.”
The new spirit of enterprise took other forms too. Carrig once again ran a tournament, though more modest in scale than the last one, involving just 12 teams: Redmonds, CYMS, Emmets (Monkstown), St Finbarrs, Rangers, Aghada, Aghabullogue, St Marys, Sars, Midleton, Cobh and Carrig. After years of temporary and unsatisfactory arrangements the club secured a new pitch too at a field known as the “old racecourse” (Lane’s Field) in Barryscourt. Carrig had occasionally used the field before, but this time they entered into a long term lease. With the support of local business people two dressing rooms were built, the pitch was railed off and there were three entrances to facilitate the hosting of big matches.
On the field Carrig were competitive again. In March they hosted Midleton in the newly formed East Cork league and scored a good win, 1-12 to 1-2. A month later they beat Sars in the same competition, again at home, 2-5 to 0-5 and it wasn‘t until April that they suffered their first defeat of the year, a 4-5 to 1-5 beating at the hands of Cobh. Carrig, though, were ready for Liscarroll in the first round of the senior championship in mid-June and won in a canter, 2-16 to 1-3.
Carrig: Jerh Fouhy, Matt Ahern, Wm Ahern, P Fitzgibbon, B Hayes, Willie Lawton, Pad Whelan, J Murphy, Michael Savage, P O’Connell, Lawrence Cotter, Maurice O‘Brien, T Mulcahy, John Kelleher, D Coughlan, John Horgan.
Carrig were beaten before the final, though we have no record of who ended their run. The seconds, however, went on a good run beginning with a. victory over Liscarroll in the first round before taking Cobh in the second, 1-7 to 1-3. Sars were their next victims in the middle of August, 0-18 to 0-14, in a match which the Examiner enthused was faster than the firsts match between St Finbarrs and Sars which preceded it.
This brought Carrig through to a semi-final against Shanbally on the second Sunday of October and there the run ended. Carrig started well and led by two points at half time but in the second half they were overrun. The Examiner was quick to identify Carrig’s weakness.
“What handicapped Carrigtwohill more than all else was the wretched defence of their goalkeeper. He did his best no doubt but his best was a weak display of hurling. He would probably be a better man in the open than in the goalmouth where he left balls, travelling sometimes ever so slowly, pass in, and which if he had but ordinary coolness might have been fielded. Laxity of this character counted heavily against Carrigtwohill, but when all is said they were honestly beaten by a better team. The final score shows how decisively Shanbally won: 3-14 to 2-6.” Shanbally went on to give Midleton a hiding in the county final, 2-16 to 0-3.
Carrig: Wm Kermedy(c), Patrick O’Keeffe, Jim Grey, Dan McCarthy, Wm Fitzgibbon, Jack Cunningham, Jack O‘Keeffe, Wm Barry, Jack Mulcahy, Patrick Twomey, M Hegarty, Michael O’Reilly, W Fenton, J Ahern, Patrick Cotter, John Whelan, Timothy ‘Killarney’ O‘Leary.
Carrig’s outstanding performance of 1908 though was probably against Midleton in the return fixture in the East Cork league. Both teams were doing well in the league and Midleton’s good form later took them all the way to the county final. Nevertheless there was nothing in it that day.
No more than two points divided the teams at any stage and, according to the Sportsman, the “pace was hot.” At full time the sides were level, 1-8 to 0-11, but after half an hour of extra time, Carrig sneaked it, 2-15 to 1-16. “Carrig Captain Jerh Fouhy may feel proud of his team,” reported the Sportsman, “they are improving rapidly under his popular guidance.”
A few months later Carrig and Midleton met again, this time in the East Cork winter league, run from October to December. This was a novel competition where the teams were composed of three first team players, five from the second team and seven minors. (From 1909 the second team had their own competition).
Carrig won, 4-9 to 0-1, but the Sportsman’s reporter seemed distracted by sideshows. Under the headline, “What appealed to the gallery,” he remarked on the “inability of the players to accomplish complete somersaults, under the most favourable conditions.” He goes on to describe the “perfect nonchalance of the Carrig goalkeeper who eagerly imbibed the fragrant weed (probably tobacco, but we’re open to correction) before the refreshment whistle went.” We can only speculate what the reporter was taking.
The outstanding success of the inaugural East Cork league was widely recognised. At the end of 1908 the league committee showed a profit of more than €14.92, which meant that the winners Cobh received a set of gold medals. The Sportsman was quick to add its congratulations and observations.
“The good work performed by this competition cannot be over-estimated. It has popularised the good old game in the Eastern suburbs to a degree that it has never before reached and it has given a new lease of life to previously struggling clubs like Midleton, Carrig, Sars and Cobh.
“A striking feature of the competition was the amount of patronage extended to it by the feminine community. The ladies attended in their numbers and showed not only a lively interest in the fortunes of their favourites but a keen knowledge.
“In these days of emigration and avowed monotony of country life I need not further expound on the national importance of this aspect of the East Cork Hurling League. Long may it live, and work and grow. ”
As well as Carrig‘s restored competitiveness on the playing field the club’s reinvigoration was evident in the successful staging of sports meetings in October 1908 and July 1909. At the time athletics were an integral part of the GAA; more than that, one of Michael Cusack’s prime motivations in founding the GAA was to rival the Irish Amateur Athletics Association, which leant towards the establishment. An advertisement survives for the meeting in October of 1908 which specified that it was being held “under GAA rules.” A feature of these meetings in Carrig was a race to Cork which was touted as a “marathon”
The 1909 East Cork league proper began in November of 1908 and at last Midleton extracted some measure of retribution from Carrig for all the beatings they had endured that year. The firsts were thrashed, 6-12 to 0-6, while the seconds lost by 3-2 to 1-4. Surely Carrig weren’t bored with beating the old enemy? “Carrigtwohill (firsts) were minus some of their usual players,” reported the Sportsman, “and played a half-hearted game, their accustomed dash being entirely absent, particularly in the concluding half. ”
At the 1909 Cork County convention the club championships were restructured. Instead of firsts and seconds competitions, clubs would be graded as senior, intermediate and junior. Carrig stepped down from senior and entered teams in the intermediate and junior championships. It would only be a temporary readjustment.
The year began well enough with victories for the intermediates over Aghada, 2-7 to 0-0, and GPO, 1-9 to 0-1. The match against GPO was in a competition called the Saturday Hurling League, run by the county board and which also included St Finbarrs, Rangers, Midleton, Sunday‘s Well, Dwyers, St Vincent and CYMS. In a footnote to the GPO match Carrig were reprimanded at the next meeting of the league committee for the use of “unfit language.”
The juniors also had a good start with a win over Little Island, 3-7 to 1-6, in the East Cork league . But then Carrig were due to play Sars’ first and second teams in the East Cork league two weeks later and there seemed to be a massive breakdown of co-ordination. The games were in Carrig, but five minutes after the appointed throw-in time there was no sign of the home team. Ten minutes later half a dozen Carrig players turned up and started pucking around.
The Sportsman made its displeasure known: “Then the captain appeared looking for some more men, whom he secured after a short time. Now, Carrig this is really going too far, and why not have your team selected a few days before the match, instead of begging some of them to throw off their coats to make up 17 (these were the days of 17-a-side). Carrig also seemed to have no colours, some appearing in white, some in red and black and others had no colours at all. I only hope I will not have to speak about this again.” Sars won by 6-7 to 1-3.
The only way was up and in the return fixture in the middle of March Carrig’s play and conduct was much more to the satisfaction of the Sportsman: “M Fouhy, P Whelan and W Lawton were absent from Carrig and consequently weakened their senior team, and we need hardly say that they would require their full strength to cope effectively with the men from Riverstown.
“The stand that Carrig made was therefore a revelation and showed vastly improved form. If Carrig had greater confidence in themselves we would not be surprised to hear of some sensational victories before the close of the season.” Still, Sars won comfortably, 2-8 to 1-4.
The AGM of 1909 wasn’t held until the end of March and the air hummed with self-congratulation. The secretary’s report and the treasurer’s report were both adopted “with acclamation.” John Barry was elected as president, with Michael ‘Major’ Kennedy as vice president, Lawrence Cotter as treasurer and Patrick O‘Connell Jnr as secretary. Jerh Fouhy was made captain of the intermediate team, with Tim ‘Killarney’ O’Leary as his vice captain; Billy Kennedy was elected captain of the juniors with Dan Mulcahy vice captain. Dan Murphy was delegate to the East Cork league and WP Ahern was the county board representative.
A couple of days after the AGM an interesting letter appeared in the Sportsman. It was written by a Carrig man David P Murphy, who was living in Chicago and heavily involved in GAA affairs over there. We think he was related to Dan Murphy, Carrig’s delegate to the East Cork league , who seems to have passed the letter on.
The letter congratulated the Sportsman on its GAA coverage and asked if it might carry reports of GAA activity in Chicago which he would provide. It appears from the letter that another Carrig man, Tom Murphy, had captained the Chicago football champions of 1908. True to his word David P Murphy became a regular contributor to the Sportsman on Chicago GAA affairs and more than a year later he sent a report of the Illinois State hurling final in which Tom Murphy this time captained Dalcassians in defeat to Shamrocks.
Back home football seemed to be enjoying a flowering too. In Cork special competitions for weak teams in football and hurling were run by what was called the minor board – it wasn’t until 1920 that ‘minor’ came to describe competitions for under 18s. The footballers took the field against Grenagh in the first week of April and scored a controversial victory. One of Carrig‘s players was not registered and when this came to the notice of the minor championship committee they awarded the game to Grenagh. The Sportsman took up the cudgels in defence of Carrig and the sanctity of natural justice.
“The match was awarded to Grenagh, without, it appears, an objection having been lodged by Grenagh, or an opportunity given to the winners of justifying the team fielded. Whether the registration is right or wrong the ruling appears very high handed – to cut off a team in the absence of their representative. Even the British Constitution will allow plaintiff and defendant to plead a case before a jury before giving a verdict.”
“Grenagh, however, may agree to a replay as we do not believe that any sporting club would accept a victory under such circumstances” Despite the Sportsman’s pleadings, however, Carrig were not re-admitted and St Nicks went on to retain the title.
The 1909 intermediate championship didn’t get underway until the first week of August, but it looked as if Carrig had used their time wisely. Liscarroll, who had also regraded from senior, were swept aside, 2-14 to 2-1, even though only a point separated the sides at half time. The Examiner takes up the story: “In the second half Carrig seemed to really commence work and the ball was not long in play when ‘Killarney’ and Matt Ahern started to play a tune on the sheet iron behind the city goal, even sometimes sending the ball far out into the agricultural society’s grounds.” The performance impressed the reporter so much that he declared Carrig should go on to win the intermediate championship.
Carrig‘s second round match against Emmets (Monkstown) three weeks later, confirmed their prospects. Again they struggled to assert themselves in the first half, but their two point lead at the break turned into a margin of 16 at the finish, 5-13 to 1-9.
On the second Sunday of September Ballincollig were their quarter-final victims, 2-5 to 0-4, after their first real test. Carrig led by 2-4 to 0-2 at half time, and though Ballincollig made a better game of it in the second half, Carrig were never in danger: “Play waxed fast and warm,” reported the Examiner, “but the superiority of Carrig, both as to tactics and dash, was hardly ever in doubt.”
The semi-final against Shanbally on the 17th of October was incorrectly advertised as the final, swelling the crowd at the Athletic Grounds. For three quarters of an hour they got value for their money. Only a Billy Ahern goal separated the teams at half time, 1-5 to 0-5, but when Jack Ahern got Carrig’s second goal mid-way through the second half Shanbally’s resistance snapped. Carrig added a further 2-1 in the last five minutes and ran out easy winners, 4-11 to 0-6.
The real final against Bandon, two weeks later, was a hollow affair. Carrig led by 0-8 to 0-0 at the break and before long, goals came. However, it was Bandon first: “They took play right up the field,” reported the Sportsman, “and after a great set-to outside the Carrig citadel scored a brilliant goal amidst great enthusiasm. This seemed to remind Carrig that there were goalposts there as well as points posts and O‘Brien with a long shot sent them attacking.
“Warner cleared, but ‘Killarney’ beat his man out to the sideline and sent a grounder flying at the posts. Billy Ahern trapped it just in time and in the slight rebound of the ball he sent it flying under the bar for Carrig‘s first goal. This seemed to put new life into them and from a scrimmage outside the Bandon posts Carrig scored their second goal through Jerh Fouhy.”
Any chance of Bandon making a game of it was snuffed out. Matt Ahern got Carrig’s last goal and a few more points made the final score 3-15 to 2-0. ln the final, just like in every other round, Carrig left no room for dispute. After a difficult decade the intermediate title was a monument to Carrig‘s rehabilitation.
Carrig: Jerh Fouhy(c), Tim ‘Killarney’ O’Leary(vc), WP Ahern, J Ahern, M Ahern, M Fouhy, M O’Brien, E Cummins, P Fitzgibbon, P Whelan, M Savage, P O’Connell, J Mulcahy, W Kennedy, W Fenton, J Grey, W Barry.
The seconds had a good victory over Blarney in the first round of the 1909 junior championship, 4-13 to 4-6. We have no record of their later progress but they were beaten before the final. Deep in December, however, the seconds finished the year with victory over Sars in the final of the East Cork junior league. Carrig raced into a 2-4 to 0-0 lead at half time and scored first in the second half too, but then Sars came to life.
“Sars repeated what Carrig did to them in the first half and scored very rapidly,” reported the Examiner. “At ten minutes to go Sars were only one point behind and the excitement was intense. The splendid saving work of the Carrig backs were the mainstay and owing to their efforts the Carrig men won the match, 2-6 to 1-8.”
Carrig (championship team): J Kelleher(c), D Coughlan, M Savage, C Dorgan, D Twomey, J Mulcahy, P Cotter, T Cotter, J Fenton, J Kennedy, M Hegarty, L Cotter, C Keeffe, T O‘Brien, M Mulcahy, J Horgan.
A month earlier Carrig hosted the replay of the intermediate football final between Cork Young Men‘s Society and Cobh and as a curtain raiser Carrig hurlers played Sars to generate money for a GAA accident fund. However, in what the Examiner described as “unreasonable unpunctuality”, the hurling match started an hour and a quarter late. The upshot was that the football match had to be abandoned ten minutes from the end because of bad light. For the record, Sars won the hurling match, 5-3 to 2-6, and Cobh eventually took the football title.
Over a hundred members attended the AGM in the third week of January, 1910. It was a contented meeting. Members were told that of 30 matches played during the season Carrig boasted 22 victories, one draw and only seven defeats. The treasurer’s report showed a little deficit but that was explained by the purchase of a new set of blue and gold jerseys and 17 pairs of boots.
This is one of the earliest confirmation of the club’s colours. How blue and gold come to be chosen is unknown. From photographic evidence today’s blue and gold band design seems to have been introduced in the 1930s. Earlier black and white photographs show a single colour jersey, presumably blue, with different coloured cuffs and collars, presumably gold.
The early jerseys are also embroidered with a cross at the top, the word Carrigtwohill or Carrig in the centre and a “H C” underneath. From time to time students at the local convent knitted the Carrig jerseys, but this wasn’t an inexhaustible source. In the 1940s a set of blue and yellow hooped jerseys were acquired from a soccer club in the city which was going out of existence, The obvious difference in numbers between soccer and GAA teams meant that all the Carrig players could not be rigged out in the same jerseys – a commentary on the grim economics of the time.
In the election of officers familiar names filled the positions of power for 1910:
President: J Barry, Vice Presidents: J Ahern, M Kennedy, Treasurer: L Cotter, Secretary: P O‘Connell,County board representative: WP Ahern, East Cork league representative: D Murphy,
Press secretary: WP Ahern, First team captain: Jerh Fouhy, Vice-captain: P Fitzgibbon,
Second team captain: C Dorgan, Vice-captain: T Widger-Hartnett,
Delegates to county convention: TF Mulholland, J Barry,
Selection Committee: J Fouhy, P Fitzgibbon, E Cummins.
On Carrig‘s return to the senior championship the draw was unkind, pitting them against Blackrock, although there was scarcely an easy draw to be had. In a championship contested by just eight teams they were in elite company: St Finbarrs, Redmonds, Dungourney, Midleton, St Marys and Sars were the others.
“Imokilly”, the East Cork GAA correspondent of the Sportsman, harboured no dread for Carrig in this company, however, only exuberant confidence; “If I may make a prediction,” he wrote, “the future holders (of the senior championship) will be found in the present holders of the intermediate championship, Carrigtwohill.
“Certainly a team never came to the front with such a rush as they did. To spring from a state of disorganisation and chaos, to be one of the foremost teams in the county, is indeed an achievement to be proud of.“
Football was evidently flourishing in the club too because following on from the presence of a minor team in the 1909 championship Carrig entered an intermediate team in 1910. In the first week of March a meeting was held to formally establish a football club with separate officers and committees from the hurling club.
However, the overlap in personnel was clear. P O‘Connell junior was elected as the first chairman and he delivered the key note address, reported by the Sportsman: “He said that for years past Gaelic football was nearly dead in East Cork. It behoved them to make a start and foster the game as far as lay within their power, and thereby show their way to other rural districts in the division.”
The elected officers were:
President: P O’Connell snr, Vice president: T F Mulholland, Chairman: P O‘Connell jnr,
Secretary: Dan Murphy, Treasurer: J Fenton, County board representative: T F Mulholland,
Captain: William Kennedy, Vice Captain: John Ahern.
Carrig’s footballers were drawn against St Finbarrs T A and were beaten by 4-1 to 0-0 at Riverstown in early May. “Imokilly” was generous in its appraisal of Carrig’s performance: “This match was Carrig’s debut and, of course, they could not be expected to shine. As yet they have only a crude idea of the game, but constant practice will gradually rub off the rough edges.”
Later in the year, while previewing Carrig’s meeting with Youghal in the East Cork football league, “Imokilly” was more precise in his advice: “Carrig have a lot to learn yet before they can make a name for themselves on the football field. They should do away with that nasty habit of fisting the ball and should practice the catch and kick a lot more. They have a splendid set of backs and speedy wingers, but their forwards and scoring men are – well, they have a lot to learn, such as kicking the ball when they come to it and not to run over it in their anxiety.”
The year opened with a challenge match for the hurlers against Midleton on the second day of February. The beginning of the 1910 season was marked with due ceremony as the St Patrick’s Brass and Reed band marched through the town to the GAA grounds playing “Gloria in Excelsís Deo” and then proceeded to entertain the patrons. Midleton won the match by 4-12 to 3-8, but when the teams met again in the East Cork league in mid-March the gap had been closed. Just like the 1908 meeting the teams were virtually inseparable and the scores were level four times before the match ended in a draw, 2-7 each.
“The defensive play was remarkably good,” reported the Examiner, “and judged by both attack and defence, there remained little to choose between either side. Carrigtwohill had much the better of the opening tussles and played with great dash in the closing half hour.”
Carrig and Midleton also met in a junior match afterwards. The tone of engagement was established quickly and the Examiner pulled no punches either: “The opening stages were characterised by wild hitting and delays consequent upon accidents to players,” reported the Examiner. “Taking the match as a whole it afforded a poor exhibition of the hurling code and when the full time whistle was sounded it came as a relief to the small number of spectators who had remained in the field to witness the match. Just before the finish a player from each side got into handigrips and the referee, Mr Canavan, Riverstown, was prompt in ordering them outside the area. The full time score was Carrigtwohill 4-3, Midleton 1-4.”
Two weeks later Carrig travelled “by wagonette” to play Blackrock in the senior championship at Riverstown and though they lost by 5 points, 1-8 to 1-3, there was honour in defeat. The Sportsman reported that a Blackrock victory was regarded as a “foregone conclusion,” and that the large attendance was as much due to a political meeting as it was to the hurling match. But he went on to describe a match which took on an unexpected shape.
“How surprised people were to learn that, free pucks apart, Blackrock only won by two bare points in actual play – Andy Buckley, the famous Rocky hurler only getting two balls to hit in the hour. The latter fact alone speaks a lot for the intermediate champions and their backline.”
Carrig started well and were two points up before Blackrock scored: “The horseskin* (*The vernacular term for a hurling ball up until the 1970’s.) was slippy before it met the third hurley,” reported the Sportsman, “it was heavy before five minutes had gone and from thence forward it never lent itself to either quick interchanges, long drives or smart doubling. Carrig controlled it far better than their opponents whose display in the first ten minutes was anything but good. Kennedy and Fouhy had no difficulty in checking any advances of the Blackrock men, while Whelan and Fenton made frequent excursions to Fitzgerald’s goalmouth.”
Blackrock were eventually settled by a goal from 30 yards by Mikey Kidney and by half time the Rockies had pulled clear, 1-5 to 0-2. The second half though, wasn’t long on when Carrig had the encouragement of a frenzied goal and the whole tempo of the game changed.
“Fitzgerald saves (for Blackrock) but he does not send out far,” reports the Sportsman. “Carrig forwards storm his goal, Rockies come around quickly, hurleys crash, spectators shout, ten from each side are in the struggle within the square and a howl goes up as the ball passes first the goal and then the point line to raise the green flag for Carrig. Their followers were jubilant, and they themselves played fiercely.
“Wild drawing was the order, half a dozen Blackrock hurleys snapped, in some exciting sword-like play against heavier East Cork sticks, and a man from each side was temporarily laid out before the game steadied itself again. But it was exciting to the very whistle and Carrig are to be congratulated on their plucky stand against the more famous victors. Carrig showed wonderful improvement, they missed nothing, their backs are splendid, wings speedy, centres daring. However their forwards lost them the game.” Blackrock went on to beat the reigning champions Dungourney in the county final.
At the club’s monthly meeting in April deep satisfaction at the performance was mixed with anger at what the acting chairman John O‘Connell described as “the miserable and unfair report he had seen in a Cork paper. But Carrig,” he said, “could afford to treat it with the contempt it deserved as it was with the hurley and ball that the blue and golds would win whatever victories they could, and not with the sharp-pointed pencil of an inconsistent newspaper whose hurling education must have been overlooked.”
The senior draw also applied to the junior championship and the game was played on the same bill. Carrig had drawn with Midleton in the build up and, like the seniors, began well to take an early lead, 1-1 to 0-0; but in the end they were flattened, 6-14 to 1-1: “The young Rockies made them look like novices, one and all,” reported the Sportsman. The only consolation was that Blackrock also went on to win the junior title.
Returned to the less rarefied atmosphere of the East Cork junior league Carrig coped better. At the end of August they had a 1-3 to win over newly-formed Ballymacoda at Carrig. A week later they travelled to Little Island, where their hosts lost the plot. Carrig were trailing by 2-1 to 1-2 early in the second half when the referee was threatened by a Little Island official and he abandoned the match. Carrig’s firsts were due to play on the same bill but Little Island‘s firsts failed to field and Carrig were awarded the match.
Carrig (junior): Cornelius Dorgan(c), John Mulcahy, James Kennedy, W Lawton, John Murphy, Pat Cotter, Gerald Cotter, Maurice Meade, John Fenton, J Cunningham, D Callaghan, T Murphy, J Lawton, P Lawton, Pat Whelan, William Moloney, Jack Lawton.
A week after their championship defeat Carrig‘s seniors returned to Riverstown for a challenge match against Sars played for “a valuable set of medals.” Carrig played well, but their forwards let them down as they had against Blackrock and Sars finished strongly to win by 4-6 to 0-6.
At the 1911 convention there was a new grade inserted between intermediate and junior called the middle grade. Carrig took their second team out of junior to compete in it, and also entered a football team. The senior hurlers drew Redmonds in the championship which now contained just seven teams, St Marys and Midleton having stepped down with Aghabullogue coming up.
Carrig began the year with a 7-4 to 0-2 victory over Aghada in the East Cork league; on the same day the juniors dismissed Cloyne, 3-2 to 0-0. In the return fixture a week later Aghada fared better but Carrig still won at their ease, 1-6 to 0-0. Carrig‘s good run continued with a one point victory over Midleton in the first week of March but it wasn’t pretty and the Sportsman didn’t temper its language.
“Twas the most scraggy match I ever had the misfortune to look at. It was all tearing, scrimmaging and missing from start to finish, brilliant hurling being conspicuous by its absence. I do not blame Midleton so much, but I certainly say that unless Carrig improve they will be a long way at the wrong side when they meet Sars in the (East Cork league) final.”
The juniors beat Midleton too so that by the middle of March Carrig topped both tables in the 1910-11 league. It boded well for the first round of the championship against Redmonds at Riverstown on the 2nd of April. But on that day a saga began and all other form was meaningless.
A couple of goals from Jimmy Kennedy helped Carrig to a 2-1 to 2-0 half time lead, and another from Billy Ahern after the break gave them a cushion. But then the heavens opened. The Sportsman painted the picture: “The sky has just darkened and some wise ones have sought the shelter of the Castle Tavern. We poor unwise ones, who did not depart in time, find our mistake too late and before we know where we are we’re “souched” with a downpour” of sleet. The teams stick on grimly, but we are so concerned with our misfortune that we do not pay much attention to the game.
“The game is suspended for a time. Talks of a postponement are in the air and the spectators are just clamouring for their tanners* (the equivalent of 2 1/2p). The teams come out again, the rain lightens, and we venture out from the shelter of a neighbouring hen house. In the remaining time Redmonds secure a further 1-1 and the game finishes in a draw, 3-1 all. In conclusion I will say that whenever and wherever the replay takes place it will be well worth losing your dinner to see it.”
In the lead up to the replay Carrig beat Cloyne easily in the East Cork league, 4-2 to 0-0, but once again Redmonds were an entirely different proposition. Carrig trailed by 3-1 to 0-2 at halftime and looked sunk, but there were plenty of twists left in the tale. “During the early stages of the concluding half-hour Carrigtwohill sprung big surprises,” reported the Examiner. “They scored rapidly and about ten minutes from the end of the match they annexed a goal which put the teams on level terms. They attacked strenuously and the Redmonds’ backs had their hands full in effecting numerous clearances. Had it not been for Reilly’s great saving work (in goal) the Reds would not have come through the ordeal with any degree of satisfaction to themselves.”
“The match was stubbornly fought out from the very start, but it could not be described as a particularly brilliant exposition of the national game. It might also be mentioned that there was at times some dangerous and quite unnecessary drawing on the ball when the players were at close range, the result being that one of the Carrigtwohill men received an ugly injury to the head and could not take further part in the match.” At the finish the sides were level again, 3-4 to 4-1.
The second replay took place three weeks later in Cobh. The special match train from Cork was full, the weather was perfect, music of the Queenstown (Cobh) Workingmen’s Fife and Drum band rent the air and the game was another thriller.
Carrig started well and led by an early Billy Ahern goal, but Redmonds recovered to lead by 1-3 to 1-0 at the break. Just like the last day, however, Carrig put in a storming second half: “Carrigtwohill were not slow to equalise,” reported the Examiner, “and it then became practically a neck and neck race. Carrigtwohill charged their opponents‘ posts repeatedly and but for the splendid defensive work of Reilly the Reds would have come out of the contest with a big deficit. Then again, there were a large number of overs (wides) on the Carrigtwohill side and had their scorers been any way reliable there would have been an end to the battle after the first fifteen minutes of the final half-hour.
“The feature of the game, however, was that up to the last five minutes the issue hung in the balance until Carrig came along and shot (the winning) point. The Redmonds played a hard determined game but on the play it was apparent that they were up against a superior seventeen, for the score standing to the account of Carrigtwohill does not by any means represent the merits of their play. The final score was Carrigtwohill 2-3, Redmonds 1-5.”
Their semi-final opponents six weeks later were Aghabullogue, winners of the intermediate championship and the Mid-Cork league in 1910. Carrig were favourites to get through, but they flopped: “They gave a most disappointing display,” reported the Examiner. “Their forwards were afforded frequent scoring chances but they were completely off form. Aghabullogue played a determined game from the start and early in the second half it was apparent that they would qualify for the final.”
Carrig played into the sun and against the wind in the first half and went in at the break trailing by 3-2 to 1-0. Carrig kept Aghabullogue scoreless in the second half, but they only added 1-1 to their own total and it wasn’t enough. Jimmy Kennedy and James Ahern scored Carrig’s goals; Tim ‘Killarney’ O‘Leary, William Barry, John O’Donovan and Billy Ahern were also absolved of blame in despatches.
Jer Fouhy (c), Patrick Fitzgibbon(vc), Wm Ahern, John Ahern, Matt Ahern, John S O’Donovan(g), Matt Fouhy, Billy Kennedy, Jim Grey, Tim O’Leary, David O’Flynn, Patrick Whelan, Michael Savage, Wm Fenton, Wm Barry, John Mulcahy, Jimmy Kennedy.
To help Aghabullogue’s preparation for the county final Carrig played their full championship team against them in a challenge match in aid of the Mogeely Church fund in early September. To confirm their lost opportunity Carrig won handily, 5-4 to 2-1, and were presented with a silver cup for their trouble. Aghabullogue later failed to score in the county final against Blackrock.
Almost certainly Carrig were weakened by arrogance. In the lead up to the semi-final Redmonds challenged Carrig to a match for a set of medals, to the value of €5.74, with the winners taking all of the gate receipts. After a long discussion at a specially convened general meeting Carrig accepted the challenge, on condition that the game wouldn‘t be played until after the county final. In Carrig minds, evidently, the semi-final was already won.
Carrig‘s second team made a promising start in the East Cork section of the middle grade championship, crushing Mogeely 4-3 to 0-1, but they fell in the next round to Ballymacoda. According to the Examiner Carrig were beaten even more convincingly than the 3-2 to 1-2 margin suggests.
Carrig: W Lawton, J Mulcahy, P Twomey, M Meade, P Cotter, G Cotter, M Galvin, J Fenton, M Mulcahy, J Horgan, P O’Connell, D Coughlan, C Donovan, J Kelleher, D Twomey, J Brien, J Lawton, P Hegarty.
Carrig‘s footballers were also entered in the middle grade and were drawn against Youghal’s second team. Bizzarely, that match was fixed for the same day and venue as Carrig’s middle grade hurling championship match. More bizzarely, Carrig fielded exactly the same team, with tragi-comic results. Carrig replaced their goalkeeper twice in the first half, both of the substituted men having let in soft goals. Youghal led by 3-2 to 0-0 at half time and added another 1-1 early in the second half, before, ten minutes into the half, some Carrig players had enough and left the field. There it ended.
With such a shabby attitude to the code it was no wonder that Billy Ahern played his football with Lees, even though he was Carrig’s county board representative. That year Ahern was picked on the Cork team that beat Waterford in the final of the Munster junior football championship. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an All Ireland dimension to the championship until the following year.
On the first day of August Carrig beat Sars by a point in the East Cork league, 1-3 to 1-2, and ten weeks later the teams met again, this time in the final. Carrig was the venue and this time the issue was never in doubt; Carrig romped home, 7-1 to 0-0. “Sars were up against a much superior lot,” reported the Examiner, “to such an extent that the match became one-sided, the Carrigtwohill men winning as they liked. The mistakes made by the Sarsfields were in the raising of the ball. They were too slow to follow up and the combination was most inadequate. When the Carrig men got possession, which was frequent, they wiped out all opposition.”
Carrig: Jer Fouhy (c), Patrick Fitzgibbon(vc), D Flynn, William Kennedy, James Kennedy, James Grey, Tim O’Leary, W Aherne, J Aherne, M Aherne, M Fouhy, J Mulcahy, Wm Fenton, P Whelan, M Savage, Wm Barry, J Donovan(g).
The AGM at the end of 1911 reflected a club in good shape. Nearly all of the outgoing officers were returned to their positions and, according to an Examiner report, “the secretary’s and treasurer’s reports showed that the club, as regards membership and finance, was in a very healthy condition.”
Perhaps it was emblematic of the club’s recently restocked self esteem that for the 1912 championship Carrig promoted their second team again, lifting them out of the middle grade and entering them in the intermediate championship, even though they had made no impression in either the junior or middle grades in recent years.
The seniors would need all that confidence; their first round match was against Dungourney, county champions only three years earlier and still lead by the great Jamsey Kelleher. The game took place in Midleton on the 5th of May and the outcome was clear cut.
“The redoubtable Jim Kelleher had his men in fine trim for the fight,” reported the Examiner, “and captain Fouhy did more than a man‘s share to secure the honours of the day for the Carrig men. However, it was apparent from the outset that Dungourney were in great form.
“The match was brimful of fire, skilful hurling right through, but the onslaughts of Carrigtwohill were not equal to the back play of Dungourney, in which Kelleher was out on his own. Dungourney forced the pace from the start and by half time had opened up a lead of 1-3 to 0-0. The opening of the second half saw Carrig missing a number of promising chances and the tussle was of the most determined character to the full time whistle when the score stood, Dungourney 4-3, Carrig 2-0.”
Carrig: Jer Fouhy (c), Patrick Fitzgibbon(vc), J Ahern, B Ahern, W Barry, W Lawton, W Kennedy, J Kennedy, T O’Leary, J Crowley, M Savage, P Cotter, P whelan, J O’Donovan, J Mulcahy, D Flynn.
The club ran a tournament again in 1912 to help clear the outstanding debt on the purchase of the “enclosure.” Every one of the ten senior teams in the county took part, but the only game we have on record is Carrig’s first round victory over Aghabullogue, 8-2 to 5-1.
Four Carrig players, Jimmy Kennedy, Tim ‘Killarney’ O’Leary, Matt Ahern and Matt Fouhy had trials with Cork that summer. Kennedy and O’Leary played for Cork against Limerick in one of the first experiments with l5-a-side teams.
On a beautiful day a crowd of 3,000 saw Cork win by 7-4 to 3-2. Killarney’, reportedly, did well, but Kennedy was the star, scoring 4-1.
The Examiner, however, was sceptical about the new format: “As regards the adoption of 15-a-side it is doubtful if the adoption of this system would be successful. The game is played during the summer months and with the intense heat that is invariably experienced, it would seem in the interests of the players that the best course would be to have the old rule of 17 players on each side continue.” Within months it was adopted.
Kennedy kept his place for the championship and scored a brilliant last minute goal for Cork in their 2-2 to 1-3 victory over Limerick in the Munster semi-final. The Examiner described it vividly.
“Limerick were a point in the lead going into the final minute when Andy Fitzgerald saved a shoulder high shot from ‘Tyler’ Mackey and cleared to Mick Byrne out on the wing. Neatly the Sarsfields man struck it, in flight, to Paddy Mahony on the other wing. Another crisp stroke sent the hall on to Dan Kennefìck who sent it on to ‘Major’ Kennedy and one of the swiftest movements in hurling memory ended with a flash of his hurley to rocket the ball to the net for a sensational goal.”
Cork beat Tipperary in the Munster final, 5-l to 3-l, and met Kilkenny in the All-Ireland fìnal. Cork were on top for most of the match until with ten minutes to go they were undone by a soft goal. The Cork goalkeeper Fitzgerald pulled first time on a long shot from outfield when he had time to stop the ball and clear it at his ease. He failed to connect and the ball bounced over the line. In the time that remained Kilkenny supporters repeatedly encroached on the pitch and the stewards effectively lost control. Kilkenny held on to win by a point, 2-1 to 1-3. ‘Major’s’ Cork career was only starting and he would have his day yet.