History - Honour Without Glory
The 1932 season would stretch all the way to the county final for Carrig, but, when the draw for the first round paired them with Sars again, it didn‘t enter anybody’s head that there could be a bigger match that season. The second Sunday in April would define the year, one way or another.
In the first part of the year the reputation of this Carrig team continued to grow. At the end of February they won a sevens tournament staged by UCC. Carrig beat Glen Rovers by 3-0 to 1-2 in the final, with Bobby Ryng scoring the clinching goal in his first big game for Carrig. The match, however had a bizarre sequel. The prize was suit lengths of Irish tweed rather than a cup, but Tom Barry, the Carrig captain, was still obliged to make an acceptance speech. As he made his way through the crowd he gave his hurley to somebody that he believed, mistakenly, to be a Carrig supporter; when the speeches were finished neither man nor hurley could be traced.
Tom placed an ad in the Examiner offering a reward for the return of the hurley and eventually it came back in one piece. Given Barry‘s imperious performance in the final, the Examiner mischievously speculated that a “committee of Glen scientists were examining every inch of the ash in the hope of unraveling the mystery of their defeat.”
The championship meeting with Sars enticed a large crowd to the Athletic Grounds. Having been overrun in the first half of the 1931 meeting, Carrig made a much better start this time. By half time two goals from Mick McCarthy had them 3-1 to 2-1 in front. Sars, though, took control early in the second half and scored three points to draw level. With five minutes to go they struck a goal which looked like being decisive, but Carrig recovered and saved themselves with a goal from a free in the dying moments, to leave it 4-1 to 3-4.
The replay on June 19th only confirmed that there was nothing to choose between the teams. It demonstrated too that the longer Carrig and Sars remained in each other‘s company, the greater the threat to harmony. A bout of fisticuffs saw a player from both sides sent off in the second half, and it gave a few supporters from both sides their cue to continue the argument.
As for the match, Sars took the lead with a goal after just three minutes, and held the lead until the break, 2-0 to 1-1. The second half was even tighter with the sides level at 2-2 each with time running out. Then a poor puck-out by the Sars goalkeeper resulted in a point for Carrig, and they hung on to the lead until the finish.
The quarter-final against Glen Rovers at the Mardyke was another stern, harsh match with long scoreless spells. Mick McCarthy and Bobby Ryng scored a goal each for Carrig in the first half and they had to make do with that for the rest of the game.
Neither team scored for the first 20 minutes of the second half, but then the Glen managed a goal and a point in quick succession to leave just a point between the teams, 2-0 to 1-2. Again, Carrig held on.
After the strain of the previous two rounds, the semi-final against Passage came as a relief. Carrig were 3-5 to 0-1 ahead at half time and won at their ease, 5-7 to 2-2. After a lapse of 14 years, Carrig were back in the county final.
When Carrig reached the County Final in 1918 the jerseys were knitted by the nuns. In 1932, and for much of that decade, the Carrig jerseys were the responsibility of Tommy O’Shea from the Bog Road. His sister Hanny washed them, but then Tommy took over.
As a young lad he lost one leg in a railway accident and when the artificial leg provided by the hospital didn’t suit him he improvised with wooden legs he fashioned himself. He made his way on a bike with his wooden leg fixed to one of the pedals. The Carrig jerseys would be transported in a steel case, fastened to the back of the bike, and invariably a Woodbine would be hanging from the corner of his mouth. He had the look of a character and the appearance was true.
Throughout the club’s history others have cared lovingly for the jerseys. Bill Lynch and his wife preceded Tommy O’Shea, Tom O’Brien and his wife Mag came in the 1950s. Timmy O’Donovan and his wife Kitty covered most of the next two decades before Con O’Mahony and his wife Ann took over. After that, Bobby Keating and his wife Carmel stepped forward. There was no glory in it, and scarcely enough thanks.
Inevitably the Barrs were favourites for the county final. They had beaten the reigning champions Blackrock and their record against Carrig was conspicuously good; on top of that Carrig‘s best player Tom Barry broke a bone in his leg in the build-up to the final and was unable to play. Even the fine weather on that first Sunday in October and the firm sod at the Athletic Grounds was perceived to be an advantage to the Barrs. There was nothing to suggest that the match would hold so much credit for Carrig.
The Barrs played with the strong wind in the first half and were 2-1 ahead before Bobby Ryng got Carrig’s first goal. Carrig seemed to be coping quite well until a soft goal undid them shortly before the break, to leave it 4-2 to l-0 at half time.
Worse was to follow when the Barrs got another soft goal in the opening minutes of the second half, to leave Carrig 14 points adrift.
For the rest of the match though Carrig overwhelmed their opponents. Johnny Morey started the momentum with a goal, Din Barry and Dan McCarthy added a couple of points before Mick McCarthy and Ryng found the net again:
“The East Cork side were now seen in a great recovery,” reported the Examiner, “and the followers of Carrig were looking for a win. There was but a margin of two points dividing the teams, but the time remaining gave them very little chance of a possible goal and the match finished, St Finbarrs 5-3, Carrigtwohill 4-4.” Against all odds Carrig had come within an ace of pulling it off.
Carrig: Jackie O’Keeffe, John Barry (NT), John Barry, Pa Barry, John Loftus, J O’Connell, Danny McCarthy, John O‘Keeffe, Harry Lynch, Paddy O’Donovan, Denis Barry, Johnny Morey, Mick Barry, Mick McCarthy, Bobby Ryng.
The Carrig juniors beat Ballymacoda by 5-4 to 1-8 in the first round of the East Cork championship that year but they were well beaten by Bride Rovers in the semi-final, 6-5 to 2-2.
Carrig panel: Peter Kennedy(c), T O‘Keeffe, Henry Carey, Mossie Cull, Mossie Carroll, E Barry, Jerh O’Connell, Garrett O’Keeffe, J O‘Connell, Billy Morey, Danny Horgan, Jimmy Kennedy, J Cotter, John O‘Keeffe, M Tobin, Johnny Horgan, JJ Cotter, M Fitzgerald, W Leahy.
On the last Sunday of November Carrig and the Barrs met again, this time in the final of the Lawton Cup in Midleton. The ground was heavy, the Barrs were under strength and Carrig won. It was a hollow victory.
The injury to Tom Barry before the county final was calamitous. For his club Barry was a Colossus. In fifteen years playing for Carrig he was never asked to play a junior match. He quickly became old enough to play for the seniors, and he decided when he was too old; nobody else would have believed he was. Only a week before he played his last match against Blackrock in 1939 it had been suggested to the Cork selectors at a county board meeting that Barry was still good enough for them. That was a measure of the man.
He made his debut for Carrig against Cloughduv at Turners Cross in 1924. ‘Killarney’ was put off for abusing an umpire that day, but Carrig still won by three goals. Three years later Barry was given his first opportunities with Cork in tournament matches and a year later he was picked on the Cork team as one of six new-comers for the 1928 championship. Cork had lost the All Ireland final the year before, but in 1928 they beat Galway by 6-12 to 1-0 – after Galway got the first score. It was the first of three All Irelands in four years that Cork and Barry would win.
The most momentous of those was in 1931. Cork drew with both Clare and Waterford before they got out of Munster but that was only the beginning of their trials. The All Ireland final against Kilkenny took three matches before Kilkenny – without Lory Meagher for the second replay – finally relented. Barry played half back and for the first quarter of an hour of the first match he marked “a green garsun” called Paddy Phelan. Phelan, however; was shifted to half back where he was to make his name and where he was picked on the Team of the Century in 1984.
Tom was one of four brothers who played for Carrig at that time ; Din, Jim and John ‘the runner’ were the others. John was better known as an athlete but he also enjoyed a high reputation as a hurler.
“Tom was a terrible whole-hearted hurler,” remembered Denis Conroy. “They were both great runners, John and Tom. At the finish of a race John was the better man. On a hurling field Tom was the better man. They were both fierce men to train. In those days they might train for two hours inside in Midleton, get into their clothes and walk back to Carrig. After two hours training they would walk back in 37 or 38 minutes. Tremendous athletes.”
John’s potential was recognised early and, remarkably, as a 17 year old he was picked on the Cork team that lost the 1923 All Ireland junior final to Offaly; “We should have won that game,” he recalled years later. “We scored a goal with ten minutes to go but didn’t get it. The ball came out off the stanchion but the umpires thought it hit a post.”
He graduated to the senior panel around the same time as Tom, but was only on the panel for the All Ireland triumphs of 1928 and 29. When he made the team a year later Cork lost to Clare in the Munster championship and when Cork won the 1931 championship John had lost his place on the team.
Both Barry brothers were still on the Cork team on the July day in 1933 when Carrig boasted seven players on the county panel for the Munster championship semi-final against Limerick. That year Blackrock withdrew their players, leaving vacancies which Carrig eagerly filled. John was full back in front of Jackie O’Keeffe in goal with John Barry, ‘the teacher’ at corner back, Tom at wing back and Bobby Ryng at centre forward. Paddy O‘Donovan started as a substitute but came on during the first half while John Loftus was also on the bench. Cork lost that day by 2-9 to 1-6, but Carrig‘s representation articulated the restored status of the club.
Despite reaching the county final in 1932 Carrig weren’t expected to beat Blackrock in the first round of the 1933 championship, but there was no question about the outcome; Carrig overwhelmed their opponents, 2-6 to 0-2. The Examiner pretended not to be surprised: “Those who witnessed the exploits of the Carrig team last year could not fail to see that they were the coming team. They will make a fair bid for county honours this year if they maintain the form displayed in this contest.”
Playing against the wind Carrig took the lead in the first minute with a goal from Harry Lynch, Mick McCarthy followed it up with a point from a sideline cut and Bobby Ryng added another goal before half time to leave them 2-1 to 0-1 ahead. Points from Ryng, Tommy O‘Donovan and three from Tom Barry finished the job in the second half.
Carrig: Tom Barry, Denis Barry, John Barry(NT), Tony Pratchkie, Jimmy O‘Leary, John Loftus, Jackie O’Keeffe(g), Paddy O‘Donovan, Tommy O‘Donovan, Danny McCarthy, Mick McCarthy, Harry Lynch, Johnny Morey, Bobby Ryng.
Carrig were forced to wait nearly four months before their second round meeting with Sars in September. The wait merely heightened the anticipation and according to the Examiner over 7,000 people witnessed the match at the Athletic Grounds.
The lead changed hands five times in the first half, with a Bobby Ryng goal prompting Carrig‘s best spell mid-way through the half. Sars led by two points at the beginning of the second half before Ryng affected the match again, this time decisively. His second goal returned the lead to Carrig and he added three points in the next ten minutes. Sars were unable to recover and the only other score in the match was a point for Carrig by Danny McCarthy, leaving it 2-7 to 1-5.
Carrig had no such trouble from Redmonds in the semi-final three weeks later. The first score, a Mick McCarthy goal, was 12 minutes in coming, but there was much more to follow. By half time Carrig‘s lead was 3-3 to 1-1 and they kept Redmonds scoreless for the second half while they added on another 2-1.
The Barrs were Carrig‘s opponents in the final on the second Sunday in October. The city team were favourites, but there was enough doubt about the outcome to entice 12,000 people to the Athletic Grounds and their curiosity was rewarded with a thrilling match.
“It was one of the hardest and best tussles witnessed in the whole series of contests for county honours,” reported the Examiner. “The match was played at top speed from start to finish and towards the finish the East Cork side seemed to stay the better. So close was the pointing that it was practically score for score in the intense exchanges”
The Barrs were the first to settle and were 1-2 to 0-0 ahead before Mick McCarthy scored Carrig‘s first goal. Bobby Ryng got the second and Carrig’s third goal from Tommy O‘Donovan put them ahead briefly later in the half, but the Barrs went in at half time 3-5 to 4-1 in front. Johnny Kenneally, the Barrs’ captain, was their most dangerous forward and he had struck for two goals in the first half. One of them, however, was fraudulent.
It happened in front of Tom Barry’s eyes; “A high ball came in, about four or five of us drew on it and about four men fell, a couple from Carrig and a couple from the Barrs. I fell on my knee, but I was up first and I saw the ball in front of me near some fella‘s head. I could have blown head and ball at the time, but I saw an arm near the ball, a blue arm. Both teams had blue jerseys so I thought it was a Carrig fella and I didn’t draw. It was a fatal mistake. Who was it only Johnny Kenneally, who couldn’t get up because I had him covered. What did he do? He scooped the ball with his hand into the goal, and they got it. At that time the referee wasn‘t allowed consult his umpires so the goal stood.”
A point from Tommy O’Donovan put Carrig ahead again mid-way through the second half, but no lead lasted for long. The intensity of the exchanges reduced the scoring but The Examiner was sent into rhapsody nonetheless: “The clashes were well sustained and the music of ash was now all over the field.”
There was one last twist. Two frees from Tom Barry leveled the scores in the closing minutes, but both times Barry thought he had been putting Carrig in the lead. So when he lined up another free from a scoreable position in the final moments of the match he decided to go for a goal. “I thought we couldn‘t be beaten,” he said, “so I said I’ll lob it in. But the forwards let the goalie put up his hand and clear it and that was it, the match ended in a draw.”
The Barrs were rattled. Before the replay two weeks later they arranged for those players “considered to be employed in over-strenuous occupations,” to take leave from work in the week prior to the replay. Much changed in the fortnight between the two matches. There was an objection to Jim Reagan, who refereed the first match, and he was replaced by Jim Gleeson of Limerick. There was a realisation too that the colours of both teams clashed too strongly and for the replay the viewing of 14,157 patrons was improved by Carrig’s appearance in the Cork colours.
The most critical difference, however; was in a stiffening of the Barrs’ attitude: “The firm determination of the Barrs that the cup would again return to its home in the Lough parish became more apparent in the second meeting,” reported the Examiner.
The match proved to be less of a spectacle than the drawn game. In that respect Carrig shouldered more of the blame: “The pitch was sticky and holding and did not respond too well to the efforts of the players,” according to the Examiner ‘The play of the Carrig side could hardly be said to come up to the standard of the drawn game as their forwards left much to be desired, especially in the first half.”
That first period ended with Carrig 2-3 to 1-0 in arrears, Johnny Morey finally putting Carrig on the scoreboard just before half time. The mood of the match though altered after the break: “Carrig were now opening up the game and began to give a good account of themselves in all departments. They made things hot for the champions whose net was imperilled during many exciting moments.”
“Following sustained pressure the Barrs’ goal finally fell to Bobby Ryng. Another goal for Carrig followed rapidly when Mick McCarthy’s effort brought the teams level. The equal division of honours left the issue decidedly open and Carrig were going all out in search of further scores.”
The Barrs, however; stretched into the lead again before goals from Bobby Ryng and Morey brought Carrig to within a point. Carrig had a fleeting chance to take the lead, but let it pass and from that point their challenge faltered. ‘Two goals from Johnny Kenneally, once again the scourge of Carrig, gave the Barrs a measure of security and they went on to win comfortably, 6-6 to 5-0: ‘St Finbarr’s eventually exerted their superiority beyond a shadow of a doubt,’ concluded the Examiner, ‘though Carrig fought on to the Finish in the gamest manner.”
Once again Carrig had to make do with honour in defeat.
Carrig: Jackie 0’Keeffe, John Barry(NT), John Barry, Jimmy O’Leary, John Loftus, Pa Barry, Tom Barry, Danny McCarthy, Harry Lynch, Paddy O’Donovan, Denis Barry, Mick McCarthy, Bobby Ryng, Johnny Morey, Tommy O’Donovan, Sub: Tony Pratchkie for Pa Barry (injured).