History - Sars
For most of 1920 and 1921, the GAA was pushed to the background of Irish life. The military struggle between the British forces and the Volunteers (now the army of the Irish Republic) intensified and spread during 1920. It was the year that Cork was burned, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Tomas McCurtain, assassinated, and the year that McCurtain’s successor Terence MacSwiney died while on hunger strike in a British jail.
For the first quarter of the year the GAA tried to carry on as normal. Carrig entered a team in the East section intermediate football championship and were drawn against Ballymacoda, but we have no record of how they fared and it would be some time before football achieved any prominence in the club again.
The senior hurlers beat Cloughduv in a Beamish Shield match and, at the end of April, lined out against St Marys in the championship. They were beaten by three points, 1-7 to 2-1, before a large crowd at the Athletic Grounds. “Carrigtwohill did not play with anything like their accustomed dash,” reported the Examiner, “and indeed either side would have to improve considerably to go much further in the championship.”
Carrig: Jas Kennedy, T O’Leary, J Grey, E Grey, L Buckley, M Fouhy, WP Ahern, P Whelan, G Cotter, P Cotter, W Cotter, J Barry, J O’Keeffe, J O’Connell, M O’Connell.
The implications of the match would soon ring hollow. By late summer, as a gesture of support to the dying McSwiney, the Cork Board called off all fixtures under its control indefinitely. It would be July 1922 before the 1920 Championship was finished.
Like so many other places around Cork, life in Carrig was affected by the hostilities. The capture of the local RIC station on the night of January 3rd 1920 is an interesting vignette of the times and was reported in detail by the British Daily Sketch newspaper.
“Carrigtwohill Barracks was attacked by Sinn Feiners. The six policeman barricaded themselves in and kept the raiders at bay for four hours. Then the enemy blew up the wall of the barracks, arrested and handcuffed the police and ransacked the building. The battle for possession of Carrigtwohill Barracks was fought in the village streets and a crowd of excited villagers, men, women and children, watched the extraordinary scenes. At 9.45, when the policemen were having supper, an attempt was made by an advanced party to rush the doors, but they had been securely barricaded and the attackers were beaten off.”
“The main body of assailants then moved up and a frontal attack was attempted, but the policemen had taken up their defensive stations. The defenders put up a plucky fight keeping up a sustained and rapid fire from their rifles and occasionally throwing a bomb. All the telegraph and telephone wires leading from the village had been cut prior to the attack and sentries placed all around the village. After a four hour battle the police ammunition began to give out. This suited the Sinn Fein purpose and their mining party was able to creep up to the left wall of the defended fort and place a charge of explosives.”
“A few minutes later the wall toppled down and, before the defenders could recover from their surprise the Sinn Feiners had rushed the place and made the policemen prisoners. They were handcuffed together, their rifles and revolvers taken from them and €80.33 taken from a box.” The following day tanks and armoured cars were moved into the village and stood guard over the ruins.
lf you will allow us to digress it was about this episode that the song “The Bobbies in Carrig” was written. The name of the song has become synonymous with the village and to an extent the club, even though its context is long forgotten. For the record – and for future sing-songs – this is the ballad in full; all 16 verses.
Oh the bobbies in Carrig were shaking in fear
When some raiders with arms came flocking in here
They called on surrender – no answer they got
Begor’ says their leader we’ll fire on the spot
Cheer up jolly fellows don’t die in despair
For the rebels in Carrig are devils may care
Now the firing it started at Kate Murphy’s Shop
Where Lizzie and Molly were ready to drop
And Kate in the kitchen didn’t know what to do
She ran out in the yard without stocking or shoe
She ran o’er the field – gave Johnny Hartnett a call
For the honour of God take me over the wall
From that to Dick Flynn and she knocked on the door
And ’tis there she remained ’til a quarter to four
The first came along that the raiders had seen
Johnny Power from the Rock coming from Tullagreen
When asked by the raider what he was doing there
He was courting a lassie with dark curly hair
The raider he laughed with a wink in his eye
‘I pity your case my poor Irish boy
It’s no night for courting, nor neither for stroll
So now if you please put your nose to the pole
Now Johnny at Terry’s he got a great fright
He was woke out of his sleep in the middle of the night
Joe opened the door and it was his delight
For he slept with Miss Joe for the rest of the night
Now Patcheen the Waxer he went to the bog
and a drain he fell in because of the fog
A raider come on him with rifle in hand
Saying Waxer I’ll shoot you if you’re not going to stand
Look here mate says Paddy ‘tis I’m in a fix
‘I came down to this bog for a handful of sticks
If you’re out for shooting by the light of the moon
The first shot you fire let it be at Moll Doone
Now the firing had started and lasted four hours
Some bullets and bombs were going in great showers
Next came an explosion with gelignite and fuse
They tried to resist but they found it no use
When the hole was blown it made a great space
Where the Peelers and raiders they stood face to face
The bobbies surrendered, they had to give in
They were tied up and handcuffed by some disguised men
They first took some rifles that amounted to sticks
And also some bikes that amounted to six
Then off with their booty they quickly did go
Top coats and revolvers were taken also
New early next morning ex Sergeant Casey to the barracks made way
The first man he met was Constable Shea
To open the handcuffs, of him he implored
‘I think’ says O’Shea ‘you’ll find the key on the floor
When the handcuffs were opened and the Peelers set free
Sergeant Scott he cried out ‘Bring my wife in to me’
She was taken last night by that ignorant set
She got such a fright sure she‘ll never forget
Now Constable Sullivan, Hogan and Shea
Next morning to mass they went for to pray
And the people they saw them and looking so pale
They said ‘They‘d make fine monkeys if they had a tail’
So now to conclude and to finish my song
The Peelers were quietened and it didn’t take long
All honour is given, I ‘m sure you were told
To the boys who were wearing the green, white and gold
During the six months of 1921 the warfare reached a new level of ferocity. In parts of Munster and, above all, in Cork, the IRA was now operating on a full time professional basis and martial law was imposed. The Truce, which was brokered in July, meant the resumption of GAA activity in some parts of the country, but the situation in Cork wasn’t so straightforward. In May of 1920 the county board‘s long serving secretary Tommy Irwin was forced to flee the Country after a threat on his life, and by the following summer his successor, Padraig O’Caoimh (after whom Pairc Ui Chaoimh is named) was serving a jail sentence for his activities with the First Cork Brigade.
The Cork board were sceptical that the Truce would hold and they postponed any resumption of activities until 1922. By then they were reassured by the signing of the Treaty.
At the convention in April Carrig were drawn against Blackrock in the first round of the senior Championship. Later in 1922 Blackrock were to clinch the unfinished 1920 championship; in the meantime they flexed their muscles on Carrig. Carrig took the lead with the game’s first goal, but were sternly rebuked for their cheek. By half time Blackrock were 6-1 to 2-1 ahead, and after three goals in as many minutes at the beginning of the second half Blackrock coasted home, 10-1 to 2-2.
Carrig : J O’Keeffe, D O’Keeffe, M Fouhy, D O’Flynn, J O’Flynn, R O’Flynn, P Cotter, G Cotter, M O’Connell, J O’Connell, J Buckley, A Hamm, W Ahern, T Daly, T O’Leary.
At the 1923 convention Billy Ahern from Carrig replaced another Carrig man, T.F. Mulholland, as Cork’s delegate to the Munster Council. Mulholland, who had been club secretary for 10 years, moved on to higher office as a Munster Council representative on the Central Council. The following year he became a trustee of Central Council, a position he held until 1934. Ahern was also elected as a Cork senior hurling selector. At East Cork Board level, Patrick O’Connell Jnr was president from 1927 to 1934.
Carrig prepared for a first round tie against Redmonds with two matches against Midleton and another against St Finbarrs in April. The first of the meetings with Midleton was a friendly but judging by reports quite a significant one: “Hurling, at one time the most popular Gaelic pastime in Midleton, has been almost forgotten during the past few years of uncertain times,” reported the Examiner, “the game was dying out and at the verge of extinction.”
Midleton remembered enough, however, to beat Carrig by 3-4 to 3-0. In a primary schools match played afterwards Midleton beat Carrig easily, 5-0 to 1-1, even though they hadn‘t fielded a school team for three years. Evidently, they had forgotten nothing either.
Carrig (schools team): D McCarthy, M McCarthy, T Barry, P Daly, T Casey, J Keeffe, D Ahern, G Cahill, J Hartnett, J Donovan, C Wallace, M Daly, J Cotter,J Fitzgerald, D Leary.
At the end of the month Carrig turned the tide on Midleton in the East Cork senior league with an 8-1 to 2-3 victory, but in between they took a hammering from the Barrs in a tournament to raise funds for the Athletic Grounds. The conflicting signals from Carrig’s early season form were clarified a little later with a good victory over Redmonds in the first round of the championship, 5-0 to 3-1.
But then they flopped against St Marys in the next round, 6-3 to 0-0. The Examiner had no difficulty summarising the match in a flimsy paragraph. Half of it will do: “Carrigtwohill put up only a very mediocre show. The match was not so one-sided as the score would seem to indicate, but St Marys were for the most part the aggressors.“
That summer the East Cork league resumed in earnest after being suspended during the Troubles. Things began slowly with small crowds attending the early fixtures. It was apparent, too, that many clubs were gingerly getting to their feet after a long period of sporadic activity. At one meeting the East Cork league committee thanked farmers for allowing matches to be played in their fields “as in the old days when the GAA was in its infancy,” reported the Examiner.
By October the league had some impetus again and a big crowd turned up in Midleton to see Carrig beat their hosts 5-3 to 2-0. Midleton won the junior match on the double bill, 3-1 to 2-0. Carrig went on to beat Sars in the semi-final of the league in the first week of December, 3-0 to 1-1. But whichever way the league was structured, Sars were also their opponents in the final two weeks later. Unfortunately we have no account of that match.
Carrig semi-final lineout: J O’Keeffe, T O’Leary, J Kennedy, P Kennedy, G O’Keeffe, D Flynn, M Fouhy, D Barry, J Daly, J Barry, M Barry, T Barry, D Lynch, H Sullivan.
The championship of 1924 went better for Carrig, though they gave their supporters every reason to be pessimistic. Early in the second half of their first round match against Kinsale, Carrig allowed a three point half time defìcit swell to eight points. It took a soft goal to revive them, and before Kinsale could score again Carrig had drawn level.
Kinsale sneaked in front, momentarily, with a point, but Carrig scored two more goals in the last few minutes and won, 6-3 to 4-4. The Examiner, however, was quick to point out that Kinsale were “two goals a better team than the score indicated.” The Carrig match was the curtain raiser to Blackrock v St Finbarrs and the double header drew an official attendance of 12,889, generating gate receipts of €493.48, a new record for the County Championship.
Carrig’s build-up to the quarter-final against Redmonds boded ill. Sars, who had lost to Redmonds in the first round of the championship, beat Carrig well in the East Cork league, 7-1 to 4-0, and on the last day of June that form rang true. A crowd of over two thousand turned up in Turner‘s Cross and were witnesses to a slaughter.
“At intervals a few brilliant passages of play were provided,” reported the Examiner, “but on the whole the play lacked science, dash and combination. Carrigtwohill possessed a weak forward division and lost many opportunities of scoring.” Redmonds, however, had their fill of scoring and won as they pleased by 6-3 to 0-1.
Carrig: T Cotter, J Barry, T O’Leary, T Barry, D Flynn, J Barry, M Fouhy, D Barry, J O’Keeffe, M Barry, P Kennedy, P Ahern, J Kennedy, W Ahern, T Daly.
Carrig gathered themselves to reach the final of the Youghal Cup with an impressive 7-2 to 1-3 victory over Sars, but in the final they were beaten by Midleton. In the middle of November Carrig took a measure of revenge, beating Midleton in the East Cork league two weeks in a row, 4-2 to 1-0 in Carrig and 8-0 to 3-2 in Midleton, and it wouldn‘t be long before they would meet for higher stakes.
Carrig opened the 1925 championship with a first round match against Castletreasure at Riverstown in early April. It was a poor match which Carrig won easily, 6-4 to 2-1. Midleton were next. Carrig never trailed but it wasn’t until near the end that they put the game out of Midleton’s reach.
Carrig led by 2-0 to 1-0 at half time, with two goals from Billy Ahern, and stretched their advantage to 4-0 to 2-0 shortly after the break. Midleton had their best spell at a time when the match was 5-0 to 3-0 in Carrig’s favour, but Ahern, O’Keeffe and O’Connell were excellent in the Carrig defence and with Billy Ahern completing his hat-trick, the match ended with Carrig pulling away, 6-2 to 3-0.
Carrig: J O’Keeffe (c), J Barry, T Barry, J Barry, M Barry, D O’Flynn, J Grey, M Fouhy, D McCarthy, P Doyle, T Daly, E Daly, W Ahern, J O’Connell, P Ahern.
Two weeks before the county semi-final against St Finbarrs, Carrig drew with Sars in the final of the East Cork league, 4-4 each, before a huge crowd estimated at 2,500. It was a cracking match which sent the Examiner into raptures. “The display of hurling fully compensated those who felt the effects of a boiling sun, and from the start to the final whistle not a dull moment was experienced. The game was a first class exhibition of the code and was a clean, hardfought tussle and, considering the great heat, the pace was exceptionally fast throughout.”
The replay at the end of August drew a massive crowd of nearly 4,000 and again they were treated to a good match, but this time Carrig were decisive winners, 5-1 to 2-2: “Carrigtwohill fielded an exceptionally clever fifteen,” reported the Examiner, “who were well able to account for themselves in every department, and with the assistance of Jim Kennedy, who shot some clever goals, were well deserved winners. Sarsfields lacked their usual dash and combination and appeared to tire during the second half, while the forwards were exceptionally weak and lost many chances of the net.”
Carrig: J O’Keeffe (c), J Barry, M Barry, J Barry, T Barry, J Grey, J O’Connell, E Daly, P Cotter, WP Ahern, J O’Connell, P Mulcahy, G Moore, J Kennedy, T Daly.
For Carrig it turned out to be the high water mark of the year. The low water mark had already been established in the county semi-final against the Barrs five weeks earlier. Rain lashed down on the Mardyke but the perceived benefit to Carrig of the inclement weather never accrued. The Barrs won, 13-1 to 2-1. Carrig only trailed by five points at the break, 1-1 to 3-0, but they had played with the strong wind and in the second half they collapsed.
Gently, the Examiner pointed the finger at the Carrig goalie: “The Carrigtwohill net custodian brought off clever clearances, but he also let in some shots that might have been frustrated.“ The Barrs later went on to lose the county final to Blackrock and in the middle of September Carrig met them again in the Clonmult Memorial Tournament in Midleton. Nothing much can be read into the match but Carrig ran out easy winners, 8-2 to 2-2. Carrig ended the year well with another victory over Sars, this time in the Hall Cup. The destination of the Cup would be decided over three matches but Carrig put down a marker with a 5-1 to 3-1 victory.
For two Carrig players, John Barry (the teacher) and Tim Daly, glory was to be had elsewhere, with the Cork juniors. In those days the junior team was essentially Cork‘s second best team, with the selectors free to pick players from senior clubs. Tim Daly played in the early stages of the championship, but John Barry took part in every round, including the 5-6 to 1-0 defeat of Dublin in the final – a match which eventually didn’t take place until July of 1926.
The second match in the Hall Cup took place early in April of 1926. This time Sars were at home and they made good the advantage to win by three goals, 6-1 to 3-1. With one victory each the deciding match went to a neutral venue, Mogeely, at the end of August. “A thrilling game was witnessed,” reported the Examiner, “and up to the final whistle the position of the teams was equally divided.”
Carrig played with the wind in the first half and just sneaked ahead before the break when a 70 from John O’Keeffe insinuated itself into the Sars net. The second half was nip and tuck until a late goal by Billy Ahern tipped the balance in Carrig‘s favour and they went on to win, 3-4 to 2-2.
Carrig: J O’Keeffe (c), P Mulcahy, J Barry, M Barry, T Barry, D Barry, JJ Barry, J Grey, P Doyle, T Daly, J O’Connell, W P Ahern, M Ahern, D McCarthy, H Carey.
Carrig’s form was mixed in the lead up to the championship. They lost to Midleton by a goal in a challenge match and then beat Cloughduv well in another challenge, 5-3 to 3-1.
In the first round of the championship Carrig were given an opportunity to restore their good name, against the very people who had taken it. Three thousand people turned up in Riverstown on the second Sunday of May for Carrig’s meeting with the Barrs; mercifully they were witness to a contest this time.
Two goals from Jimmy Kennedy, in the final year of his inter-county career, helped Carrig to keep the lead until the last minute of the first half when the Barrs scored their third goal, to leave it 3-3 to 3-1 at the break. Kennedy restored Carrig’s lead early in the second half, but they didn‘t hold on to it for long. Nothing much separated the teams until chance took a hand: “The Carrig defence was severely tested for a period,” reported the Examiner, “but proved well up to its task until a 90 yard clearance from the Barrs went all the way to the net.” In the event it was the turning point. John O’Keeffe crashed a free to the net late in the game but the Barrs wouldn’t be caught and went on to win, 5-7 to 5-2.
Carrig: J O’Keeffe, G O’Keeffe, J Barry, J Barry, T Barry, D Barry, M Barry, J Kennedy, P Doyle, T Daly, J Grey, J O’Connell, P Kennedy, B Ahern, M Ahern.
The juniors started their championship campaign well with a 6-0 to 2-4 victory over Castlemartyr but went out tamely at the hands of Sars in the next round, 6-2 to 0-4 and capped an inauspicious year by withdrawing from the East Cork
Carrig: P Mulcahy(c), J Barry, T O’Sullivan, E Daly, S McCarthy, M McCarthy, J Mulholland, M Harris, M Flynn, H Carey, W Nagle, J O’Connell, P McCarthy, M Cotter, H Lynch.
The seniors tried to pick up the pieces against Blackrock in the semi-final of the Clonmult Memorial Tournament in Midleton, but were knocked back on their heels. “A disappointment was in store for the many patrons, (reported to be 5,000), the match being entirely a one-sided affair,” according to the Examiner, “While the exhibition of the code was only fair, neither side showing any great brilliance. Blackrock, who appeared to be the heavier fifteen, had matters practically all their own way and were comfortable winners by
5-6 to 1-1.”
At the end of August Carrig hosted a double header, Midleton v Leeside in the semi-final of the junior hurling county championship and Carrig against Youghal in the East Cork league. Not for the first time the Examiner scolded Carrig for its inadequacies as a venue.
“The field arrangements were far below the standard required for two such important matches. There was no enclosure of any kind and the grass required cutting in several places. The spectators at the village end continually encroached on the touch line and no facility was afforded to the press to enable a full report of the game to be recorded.”
“The Carrigtwohill Gaels must seriously consider the question of having the pitch enclosed immediately if they intend to carry out any further important matches at this venue. The public were not slow in expressing their disapproval of the general arrangements, and it is to be hoped that their wishes will be catered for in the future. Both matches were started about an hour after the advertised time.” By the way, Midleton won the junior match and Carrig beat Youghal.
The year had an eventful ending for three Carrig players. At that time the traffic of illegal players between counties was commonplace and Carrig were not innocent of the practice. For the replay of the East Cork league final against Sars in 1925 Carrig imported some players from Kilfinane in Limerick. Carrig reckoned they were merely fighting fire with fire.
“At that time,” remembered John Barry, the teacher, “Sars never had the same team from one match to the next. So we decided we’d have some ammunition of our own. I think we had 10 inter-county players altogether that day in Midleton. We lined out with 10 of our own fellas and 5 of the others. Sars suspected that something was up, but they couldn’t prove anything.”
So in 1926 Kilfinane wrote to Carrig asking them to return the favour for their Limerick county final against Claughaun. A party of five was organised, John Barry (teacher), Tim Daly and Jim O’Connell from Carrig with two others, Tim Buckley and Willie Ramsell, from Midleton. Kilfìnane lost the match by a point, but worse, the cover of their ‘guests‘ was blown.
“I remember throwing up a ball for a puck out in the first half,” said John, “and hearing a shout from the sideline, ‘Come on Carrigtwohill.’ We ended up with six month suspensions.”
The match took place at the end of July, but it was early September before the Cork County Board received notification of the offence from the Limerick Board. The Cork chairman described the affair as “despicable and totally dishonest as far as the spirit of the GAA was concerned.“ An investigation was ordered and the suspensions followed.
The year closed with defeat for the seniors to Collins in the final of the Clonmult tournament in Midleton, the army team coming from behind to win with three unanswered goals in the second half. The teams were drawn to meet in the first round of the 1927 championship and that November match in Midleton would have significant resonances then.
The 1927 season began as early as the first week of January. Midleton hosted what they called the Unemployed Tournament and Carrig’s juniors beat the hosts in the first round, 3-2 to 2-1. Three weeks later the seniors gave a good account of themselves against Blackrock in the semi-final of the Morsecock Cup at Turner‘s Cross. “The East Cork men were in fine form,” reported the Examiner,”and made the pace particularly fast for their rivals.” The sides were level at half time but Blackrock eventually won by a goal, 4-l to 3-1.
At the end of March they were beaten by Midleton in the East Cork league, 3-2 to 2-1, but their form improved with a draw against Redmonds in the middle of April. It was only a challenge match, but it was hailed as “one of the best games seen in East Cork for years.” Barely a month later, though, they were out of the championship.
What the Examiner reported to be the biggest crowd seen at Riverstown for a long time witnessed a good match and Carrig’s demise at the hands of Collins, critically undermined by a second half performance which failed to yield a score: “The game in its every phase was quite worthy of the very generous measure of patronage bestowed upon it. From the initial to the closing stages the teams provided a first Class display of the native game. There were several hard clashes, exciting duels and excellent offensive and defensive passages.”
“Up to the half hour the issue hung in the balance (Collins 2-3, Carrig 2-1) but on the change of ends the Collins’ team gradually but steadily improved their register, their training having been much in evidence in the second moiety of the game. Carrigtwohill backs were subjected to a series of severe tests and though they fought gallantly to eject the invaders the excursions proved expensive.
“Carrigtwohill‘s forwards missed a couple of inviting openings and on the run of play they should have figured to better advantage than the closing register left them, (Collins 3-8, Carrig 2-1). For the vanquished, J Barry, Donovan, O’Keeffe, Grey and McCarthy Worked exceedingly hard to pull off the honours. Kennedy did some useful work in the first period.”
Carrig : J O‘Keeffe, J Barry, T Barry, M Barry, D Barry, J Barry, J O‘Connell, T Daly, J Kennedy, M Harris, M Cull, D O’Flynn, P O’Donovan, J Grey, D McCarthy.
Carrig regrouped for what was billed as the semi-final of the East Cork league against Sars in the middle of June. It was not a semi-final in the conventional sense though. Sars were two points clear at the top of the league and if they won the match they would he crowned champions; if Carrig won, however, they would force a final against Sars and that is exactly what they did, taking victory by the slimmest margin, 3-2 to 2-4.
“The match all through was splendidly contested,” reported the Examiner, “and the score gives a very good idea of the run of the exchanges. Carrigtwohill just deserved their victory and it was not due to any general superiority but to the solidarity of their defence.”
The final was played a week later and though we have no account of the match we know that Carrig won. It ought to have put them on a solid footing for a rematch with Collins in the McKenna Fund tournament a few weeks later, but Carrig went into the match under -strength and took a harder beating than they had in the championship, 6-5 to 2-0.”
The year ended well. The Carrigtwohill tournament, which the Examiner described as “long outstanding” came to a conclusion with Carrig meeting Midleton in the final. The weather was good for the middle of November but Carrig’s field arrangements irritated the Examiner once again: “While the spectators have full liberty to encroach on the pitch it is hard to expect a game to be concluded without the many unnecessary interruptions which characterised Sunday’s match. Otherwise the pitch was in very good condition, giving plenty of room for the fast and clever exchanges which were the order of things throughout the hour.” Carrig fell behind to an early goal and needed a late goal to win, 3-0 to 2-1.
Carrig: J O‘Keeffe(c), M Cotter, J Barry, M Barry, T Barry, D Barry, J Barry, P Kennedy, J Kennedy, J Daly, J O‘Connell, M Cull, P Donovan, P Doyle, D McCarthy.
In the greater scheme of things Carrig had a significant impact in 1928. The club proposed that All Ireland minor championships be established, and after being first approved at county convention the motion was passed at annual congress. The 1928 championship wasn’t completed until October of the following year when Cork took the first title, beating Dublin in a replay at the Mardyke. Bobby Ryng, then of Ballinacurra but later of Carrig, was a member of the team.
At home, Carrig generated some impetus at the start of 1928, qualifying for the final of the East Cork league against Sars at the end of April. A huge attendance of 5,000 turned up in Riverstown and Carrig rose to the occasion. By half time their lead was 3-2 to 0-0 and though Sars stirred themselves after the break Carrig still won by three clear goals, 4-2 to 1-2.
Jimmy Kennedy, in the twilight of his career, managed two goals. His father one of the Carrig mentors, evidently found the match a greater strain than his son and sought the comfort of stimulants: “Old ‘Major’ Kennedy helped to finish off the Carrig refreshments at half time,” reported the Examiner, “and it was evident from the Press table that his glass was not filled from a lemonade bottle.”
Carrig’s first round meeting with Midleton in the championship underwhelmed the Examiner, mostly because Carrig killed it at birth. By half time Jimmy Kennedy had a hat-trick and Carrig were 5-1 to 0-0 in front. Midleton had a player sent off early in the second half, but the humour for a rout seemed to leave Carrig and they won modestly in the end, 7-1 to 1-0.
The Barrs were next opponents and, just like their last meeting in 1926, Carrig stood their ground. A crowd of 8,000 came to the Athletic Grounds and, according to the Examiner, they were treated to a thrilling match. Tom Barry opened Carrig‘s scoring with a goal and a point and Jimmy Kennedy added a goal to that leaving them 2-1 to 1-2 ahead at the break, having played with the wind. Carrig stretched their lead with another goal .early in the second half, but they tired visibly in the last quarter and eventually the Barrs overtook them. Kennedy had one chance near the end to sneak it for Carrig, but it slipped by and Carrig lost by two points, 3-3 to 3-1.
“The better team won.” concluded the Examiner, “There was only one period of the game when Carrig seemed the likely winners, and that was the first quarter of the second half. Both sets of forwards were poor. Coughlan, (the Barrs full back) was unbeatable and easily put paid to Jimmy Kennedy’s account. But the latter got no help. He was always ploughing a lonely furrow.
Carrig: J Barry, T Barry, D Barry, J Barry, J O‘Connell, D McCarthy, D Ahern, M Cotter, J O’Keeffe, P O’Donovan, J Kennedy, M Cotter, W Barry, P Doyle, T Daly.
It was a significant year for Cork and for Tom Barry. Having lost the All Ireland final of 1927 to Dublin, Cork returned to rout the same opponents in the All Ireland semi-fìnal before thrashing Galway in the final. That Championship marked the emergence of Barry as an inter-county player; that year he played at centre field, though later he would take up his natural position in the half back line. Two more All Ireland titles and the classic matches against Kilkenny in 1931 were to follow for Barry and that Cork team.
As well as Tom Barry, Donal McCarthy Came on as a sub in the 1929 final. McCarthy hailed from Midleton, but played for the club for a number of years. He also played for UCC and went on to play football for both Cork and Munster. Later in life he was the first Irish civil servant to chair a UN Committee and was president of UCC between 1967 and 1978. In John A Murphy‘s history of the college McCarthy is described as “one of the great leaders” of that institution. Barry’s brother John ‘The Runner’ was on the panel in both 1928 and 1929. Carrig exposed themselves to tough opposition at the beginning of 1929. A challenge match in February against Blackrock at Riverstown turned out to be rather more than its billing. “A keenness to win turned out to be so manifest,” reported the Examiner, “that it turned out to be a match of the most thrilling nature, with hard knocks given and taken and the referee felt the players almost get beyond him so anxious were they to secure the victory.” In the event Blackrock won by a goal.
A month later Carrig played the Barrs for the O’Connell Cup. The match had been first played in the previous December – with the Barrs winning by a point – but Carrig lodged an objection and the Barrs allowed it to stand. The replay left no room for doubt, with the Barrs again the victors, 3-3 to 0-2. This kind of preparation did Carrig no harm because Mallow promised to be stiff opposition in the first round of the Championship. They had been county finalists the year before, beating Blackrock along the way.
The temperature of the match reached boiling point very quickly; Mallow found themselves down a man and Carrig found themselves down two in the first fifteen minutes. Carrig, however, had taken care to build up a 3-1 to 0-0 lead before things got out of hand. Mallow never really got close after that. Carrig were 3-3 to 1-1 up at the break and, 5-2 to 2-2, ahead at the finish.
The Examiner was impressed: “Carrig played the real championship game and made every post a winning one from the start. Rarely has Jimmy Kennedy played so well. He won the match in the first quarter of an hour with a brilliant forward display and if he maintains this form Carrigtwohill will take some beating in the championship for their weak line has been their forwards.”
By August, when Carrig beat Sars, 3-2 to 2-0, for the Hall Cup, their prospects still seemed good, but by October that optimism was crushed. Ten thousand people turned up at Riverstown for their meeting with Blackrock in the next round of the championship, but Carrig‘s difficulties in the forwards manifested themselves again and they could only muster four points while Blackrock who boasted half a dozen Cork seniors helped themselves to 9-3. It was a world apart from the sparks of their early season meeting on the same field. A month later Blackrock won the championship.
Carrig: Garrett O’Keeffe, John Barry, John Barry, Tom Barry, Denis Barry, John O’Keeffe, Jimmy Kennedy, Peter Kennedy, Henry Carey, Maurice Cull, Mickey McCarthy, Paddy Donovan, Donal McCarthy, Jim O’Connell, Mick Barry.
In the junior championship Carrig were drawn against Templerobin (Cobh) for the second year in a row. In 1928 they had beaten them by just a point, 3-3 to 3-2, on the way to an East Cork final against Ballinacurra, which Carrig lost after a replay. In 1929 Carrig easily dispensed with Templerobin, 6-3 to 1-0, and went on to play Midleton in the East Cork final, but again they were beaten.
Carrig: E Forrest(c), J Casey, T Daly, H Lynch, D O’Flynn, J O’Keeffe, John O’Connell, Jerh O’Connell, D O’Flynn, M Buckley, J O’Flynn, J Lambert, W Morey, P Fitzgerald, T O’Sullivan.
Carrig weren’t spared in the draw for the first round of the 1930 championship. Having failed against Blackrock in the 1929 championship Carrig were ordered to sit the test again. This time it was an honourable failure. With Garrett O’Keeffe outstanding in goal, Carrig held Blackrock to 1-2 in the first half, without scoring themselves. Early in the second half, however, they broke through. Tom Barry set up Billy Ahern for a goal and Mick McCarthy followed that with a point. Blackrock were forced to lengthen their stride.
“With just a point between the teams the spectators were treated to a magnificent hurling display, ” reported the Examiner, “as the Rockies opened up the game and registered a goal and a point. There followed a period in which the ball travelled at pace from end to end, following which the Rockies registered a further point.” Another Blackrock goal at the very end masked the difficulty of their 3-4 to 1-1 victory.
Late in the game Billy Ahern had to leave the field injured and it marked his last senior Championship appearance at the end of a remarkable career. Ahern had played on the Carrig team which won the intermediate championship 21 years earlier, in 1909, and at the same time was the club‘s delegate to the county board at just 18 years of age.
In that year the Sportsman newspaper profiled all of the county board officers and gave him a glowing reference: “The very best of the younger men. An enthusiastic worker. Sits on the football league committee, county board, Saturday league committee and minor committee. Also captain of Lee Juniors and secretary of the junior football league. Truly a formidable list for one so young.”
In 1923 he achieved the further distinction of being elected as one of Cork‘s two Munster council delegates, a position he held until the convention of 1931.
For the remainder of the year Carrig had to content themselves with tournaments. May Sunday was the traditional date for the Glenbower Tournament in Killeagh where Carrig juniors were pitted against Ballinacurra. Carrig led 3-2 to 1-2 at half time, but Ballinacurra out loose after the break and scored 7-1 without reply. A young Bobby Ryng wreaked havoc with the Carrig defence that day and this was probably the day that he caught Carrig’s eye; two years later Ryng joined Carrig and he was to become one of their outstanding players of the 1930s.
Carrig: J O’Keeffe(c), J Lambert, Jackie O’Shea, T Casey, W Ahern, Billy Morey, Neddie Forrest, T O’Sullivan, J O’Flynn, D O’Flynn, M McCarthy, J O’Connell, J O’Connell, D Ahern, J Verling.
In the final of a Fermoy tournament in December Carrig seniors had better luck against the Barrs. The city club were not at full strength, but Carrig didn‘t show any mercy and won by 5-3 to 1-0. It was only the second time in their history that Carrig had beaten the Barrs. As the year drew to a close it was something to carry forward.
Carrig were drawn against Sars in the first round of the 1931 championship. In the late 1920s and for much of the1930s there was a tension between Carrig and Sars which transcended everyday rivalries. Writing in the Evening Echo in the 1970s an old Sars player, identified only as “M McM”, tried to capture the tone of the relationship.
“It would be difficult for a present-day hurler to appreciate the intensity of feelings that were aroused by a Carrig v Sars match. Gambling did not enter into it, anyway there was no money then. It was simply the same thing that spurred Matt the Thresher – the honour of the little village. The Carrig trainer and mentor at the time, and indeed a member of its most esteemed and outstanding hurling families (Jim Barry), used to soak the hurling balls in a bucket of water for a week before a match with Sars. He believed a heavy ball helped Carrigtwohill.”
It didn’t need to be a championship match and it didn’t even need to be a senior match. M McM recalls, with fondness, a minor game between the clubs in 1931 which ignited in the usual way: “Sars were playing Carrig in Midleton. It was a needle match and the supporters on both sides were prepared to “come to the aid” of the players at the drop of a hat.”
“One of the Sars players had given his new raincoat to Paddy Delaney (a Sars supporter) and cautioned him to keep out of the skirmishes. The inevitable differences arose and a full scale melee started. The players more or less kept out of it. But, on looking around, this Sars player saw the bould Paddy making for the battle with one fist up and the other trailing the new coat along the muddy field.” Like so many others in Carrig-Sars matches of the time Paddy had been caught up in pressing issues of honour.
In February of 1931, four months before their meeting in the championship, Carrig and Sars clashed peacefully in the East Cork league. Carrig were four goals up before Sars scored and won easily, 5-3 to 0-1. Carrig‘s form remained good throughout the spring as they beat Midleton by 2-4 to 0-5 in the Abernethy Cup and trounced Imokilly Geraldines by 10-1 to 1-5 in the league.
A huge Crowd of about 3,000 turned up for Carrig‘s meeting with UCC in the Glenbower tournament in May. Carrig won well, 6-1 to 2-2, and followed up that victory with a 10-3 to 1-1 win over Tallow in the Fermoy tournament final. As the championship match against Sars drew closer a narrow defeat by the Barrs in the county league, 5-5 to 4-2 was the only cloud in Carrig’s sky.
However when the day came Carrig flopped. At half time Sars were 3-3 to 0-1 in front and Carrig faced a mountain in the second half. Their pride stung, they scrambled up the foothills.
“On the resumption Carrig showed better form,” reported the Examiner, “and after some strong pressure were rewarded with a goal. Although Sars replied with a point Carrig continued to have the better of the second half exchanges and gradually broke down Sars’ lead.” Carrig’s third goal brought them to within two points, 3-5 to 3-3, but it came in the dying seconds and when the puck out landed the final whistle was blown.
Carrig: Tom Barry(c), Garrett O‘Keeffe, John Barry, Denis Barry, Mick Barry, John Barry, Pa Barry, Jimmy O’Leary, Donal McCarthy, Mick McCarthy, John O‘Keeffe, J Long, J Loughman, T Noonan, Paddy O‘Donovan.
The season, however, had another twist. Carrig and Sars met in the final of the East Cork league, a match which turned out to be so incandescent with disputes that it took nearly two and a half hours to complete. “The playing pitch in Carrig was not enclosed,” remembered M MCM, “and every time the referee blew his whistle the pitch was invaded and a general free-for-all occurred. This was often the pattern where pitches were not enclosed.”
Carrig won the match, but Sars lodged a successful objection and were granted the medals. Carrig were furious and struck a special set of medals for their own players inscribed, “won on the field of play.” M McM didn’t begrudge them their vanity: “Carrig were a hard, tough team and one of the best in the county.” In the years that followed Carrig would prove this; even beyond the dispute of a Sars man.