History - Watershed
After losing to Bandon in the second round in 1954 things didn’t get any better in 1955. In fact, they may have got worse. This time defeat came in the first round, by a point to Muskerry. The match was played at the Athletic Grounds at the end of May, before an unusually small crowd, greatly diminished by the Bank Holiday weekend. Carrig were not expected to lose, but the match was full of surprises.
“Muskerry as a divisional side were not expected to be of the same standard as their opponents,” reported the Examiner, “but this view was badly off target and they showed a much better understanding than Carrigtwohill. In fact the entire Muskerry side was far better balanced than was the Carrig team. The divisional side showed a fine turn of speed and stamina which kept their opponents at full stretch all through.”
“Neilly Horgan, the Carrig goalkeeper, gave a very good account of himself and while their defence also worked hard it was the weakness of the Carrig forwards that made the difference between victory and defeat. In the second half Mattie Fouhy, who had been playing a good game in his customary position of right half back, was switched to full forward and, though this sharpened up the Carrig attack, it also blunted the defence and the forwards did not get the same service as they had in the first half.”
Muskerry had 1-3 on the board before Willie John Daly got Carrig’s first point. Another point from Daly was Carrig’s only other score of the half as Muskerry streaked into a 3-3 to 0-2 lead. Mid-way through the second half Carrig finally asserted themselves. From ten points down they found three goals in a devastating seven minutes. John ‘Baker’ O’Flynn got the first, doubling on a pass from Fouhy; Fouhy got the next himself after a pass from Seanie Butler and O’Flynn got the third.
“With only one point between the sides excitement ran high,” reported the Examiner, “With Carrig going all out to pull the game out of the fire. Twice the Carrig forwards appeared to try for a goal when they might have got the equaliser and twice the ball was wide of the target. In the last minute ‘Baker’ O’Flynn was injured and this mishap appeared to be a bit of bad luck for the Carrigtwohill forwards were short a player for most of a minute at a very crucial time of the game. However Muskerry held out to snatch a well deserved but hard earned victory (3-6 to 3-5).”
Carrig: Neilly Horgan, Paddy O’Brien, Charlie Seward, Jack Seward, Mattie Fouhy, Sean Twomey, Liam Butler, Seanie Butler, Paddy Hartnett, Kevin Tabb, Jimmy O’Brien, Willie John Daly, JJ Higgins, Val Deasy, John ‘Baker’ O’Flynn.
There were five changes to the Carrig team by the time the championship came round in 1956. Two years of inviting draws, however, had come to an end. In St Finbarrs Carrig were pitted against the county champions. The outcome was no different to the year before. The Barrs were short five of their first choice players, but they were still a class above Carrig.
Having played against the wind the Barrs were two goals ahead at half time before Carrig did anything to defend their honour. A goal and a point by Liam O’Driscoll immediately after the break roused Carrig and another goal by O‘Driscoll seven minutes into the half gave them the lead. The only purpose it served though was to shake the Barrs back into life and they added 2-5 without reply before the finish, to leave it 5-11 to 3-7.
“St Finbarrs were the better balanced side,” reported the Examiner, “and showed superb teamwork and first time striking, which paid rich dividends. Carrigtwohill, who were not a little fancied to topple the champions, were prone to rising the ball and this tendency left them time after time at the mercy of the quick-hitting Barrs men.”
“There were, however, exceptions such as Willie John Daly who was outstanding, Kevin Tabb a very promising young player, S O‘Driscoll and Seanie Butler. In Neilly Horgan, too, the East Cork club had a very useful goalkeeper, and though he was beaten five times he must have saved twice as many drives that would have beaten any other goalkeeper.”
Carrig: Neilly Horgan, Paddy O’Brien, Billy O’Brien, JJ Higgins, Mattie Fouhy, Seanie Butler, Willie John Daly, Paddy Hartnett, Liam O’Driscoll, Kevin Tabb, S O’Driscoll, Gerald McCarthy, Val Deasy, Pat Dolan, John O’Connor.
Though the seniors were out of the championship before the end of May, the year was only beginning. The summer and the glory belonged to the juniors. “I remember coming out of the AGM that year,” said Denis Conroy, “and saying to Sean Twomey crossing the road that I could name a junior team in Carrig that would win the championship. We went into Connell’s (now The Castle Inn) and picked 12 of them.” The summer bore out his prescience.
In those days the juniors were regarded as second class citizens. While the seniors travelled in cars the juniors were usually transported in Paddy Brown’s lorry or John O’Keeffe’s lorry, with two benches put into the back for the players to sit on. At the AGMs the affairs of the junior team were dealt with briefly at the fag end of the night’s business. Even their jerseys were inferior: “You‘d fall out of the junior’s jerseys,” remembered Paddy Duggan, “there was so many holes in them.“
Early in July Carrig’s campaign began against Russell Rovers. Carrig only had 14 men on the night, so Paddy Roche, who hadn‘t played for a couple of years because of a serious injury to his instep, was prevailed upon to line out. They salvaged a draw, 5-1 to 4-4, and a month later won the replay.
They dismissed Killeagh in the second round, 5-5 to 1-2, before a semi-final against Ballinacurra in the middle of September. Ballinacurra were buttressed by a few players who had left Midleton and were regarded as the most attractive junior team in East Cork. A massive crowd, which produced record gate receipts of £120, witnessed the shock of the championship. Davy O’Keeffe was only 16 years old, playing his second season in goal.
“I’ll always remember togging off before the Ballinacurra match and getting the team talk from Denis Conroy and Tom Barry. I was more afraid of Conroy than the opposition. There was no dressing rooms in Midleton at that time so we changed in bedrooms over O‘Gorman’s pub on the Mill Road.”
“There was no tactics in the team talks that time, it was all emotion. Before every Championship match they’d pull three or four old-timers out of the bag to get you wound up. I remember that day too ‘Killarney’ came in and warned that there was a lot of money bet that Ballinacurra wouldn’t get a goal. I can tell you that was pressure.”
A broken hand had kept Willie Moore out of the senior championship that summer so he fell in with the juniors. On the morning of the Ballinacurra match, however, injury nearly scuttled him again: “A milk churn fell on my foot that morning,” he said, “and I remember I couldn‘t put a shoe on my foot it was so sore. I managed to get on my boot anyway and I remember the first ball. I had to run out to the sideline for it. All of a sudden there was no more pain. Well, when I took off my boot after the match it was swimming in blood. The blood that had been trapped under my toenails had come free and that’s what had been causing the pain.”
For a long time the game followed expectations. Carrig trailed for most of the first half but hung on to draw level midway through the second half. At the beginning of the last quarter, however, a goal by Pat ‘Bonzo’ O‘Connor transformed the match: “I can see it still,” said Paddy Roche, “he caught the ball over his head, leaning backwards, turned and hit it on the run into the roof of the net. A great goal.”
After that Carrig routed Ballinacurra. Eddie Roche with 2-3 and Neilus Kidney with 2-2 did most of the damage. John Ahern got a goal while Willie Moore and Butler added the last three points of Carrig’s 6-8. After years of service with Carrig’s seniors ‘Baker’ married in Ballinacurra and played with them that summer, but he could only manage two points from Ballinacurra’s total of nine. Late on he bore down on the Carrig goal but O‘Keeffe was equal to his shot. No goals. ‘Killarney’ won his bet.
St Catherines were Carrig’s opponents in the East Cork final in Midleton on the last Sunday of September. Carrig were favourites and for the first quarter they swept St Catherines off their feet with two goals from Jimmy O’Brien and three points from Willie Moore. St Catherines though recovered themselves a little before the break and Carrig‘s lead was out down to two goals: 3-5 to 2- 2.
“I remember Conroy wasn’t too pleased at half time,” says O’Keeffe, “‘Take the snot out of ye’re nose and the rag out of ye’re arse in the second half,’ he said. You had no doubt what he meant.”
St Catherines began the second half well, but Carrig’s full back line was impenetrable. According to Tommy O’Donovan (Ronan) their aggregate weight was reputed to be 45 stones. In the middle of them 16 stones of Sean Twomey was imperious at full back. Twomey got new boots for the East Cork final, but he still used binder twine instead of laces to keep them on his feet. On a hurling field he had no truck with frills.
“Twomey was dominating,” says O’Keeffe, “you know he was that kind of player. “You just worry about the ball,” he told me, “you don’t worry about anything else.” A sub came on for Catherines, out of the crowd. I don’t know who he was, but he was wearing a beret. Twomey turned to me and said, “Look at him, an assassin. Don’t worry,” he said, coming on for me.” All I remember is the ball coming in head high, Twomey pulled, struck the ball cleanly and the beret went flying. Yer man just walked off.”
The match was still in the balance until Moore goaled from a free with ten minutes left. After that Carrig coasted. Two late goals from John Ahern made the score 6-5 to 2-4.
It was Carrig’s first junior East Cork in eight years and just so it was marked with due ceremony Twomey organised a parade through the village. Garret O‘Keeffe, Davy‘s father, played the melodeon at the head of ‘Clark’ Leahy’s donkey and cart as they paraded up the village from O’Connell‘s (The Castle Inn). In those days the pubs were closed on Sundays, but nobody who wanted a drink was left thirsty.
Carrig easily dispensed with Banteer in the first round of the county, 7-7 to 3-2. Jimmy O‘Brien helped himself to a hat-trick of goals and added a point for emphasis; Pat O’Connor (2-2), Eddie Roche (1-3) and Neilus Kidney (1-1) did the rest of the scoring. On the way home the supporters’ bus stopped at St Stephens Hospital in Sarsfields Court to tell the good news to Lar Cotter, who was recovering from an eye injury.
After the semi-final against St Finbarrs the news for Lar wasn’t so good. Carrig trailed by a goal at half time, 2-2 to 1-2, but though they restricted the Barrs to two points in the second half, Carrig failed to score at all. The Examiner reported that “there was a good deal of robust play” in the second half which apparently boiled over as two players from both sides were sent off. Unfortunately for Carrig they lost two of their best players, Willie Moore and Sean Twomey.
Carrig could have lost by more, according to the Examiner, but for the brilliance of the former Sars goalkeeper Seanie Carroll who made himself available to Carrig and took Davy O‘Keeffe’s place in goal. Defeat, though, didn‘t change anything; it remained their year.
That day against the Barrs Carrig fielded 10 “imports”, probably the most in the history of the club. The policy of strengthening the team with outsiders seems to have started in earnest in the late 1920s and 1930s as Carrig sought to match the leading City teams who were dab hands at this practice. As the glamour team of East Cork, Carrig seems to have been an attractive destination for many players with inter-county experience at some level. This continued to be the case in the 1950s, but once Carrig relinquished senior status the influx of outsiders was reduced to a trickle.
The minor hurlers reached the East Cork final in 1956 with a victory over Midleton 4-4 to 2-6, but in the final they lost heavily to Castlemartyr, 6-4 to 3-3. The club fielded a junior football team as well in a championship that didn’t start until November. Carrig’s interest, however, died in the first round against Midleton. They hit the crossbar twice in search of goals and lost in the end by five points, 1-5 to 0-3.
It was a significant year for the club and for Sean Twomey, one of its greatest clubmen. Along with a handful of others Twomey orchestrated the purchase of the first portion of the club’s current grounds, allowing the club to put down roots once and for all after generations of short term arrangements. On the field of play Twomey’s distinguished career was nearing its end and 1956 provided its final glory.
At any time in the last 40 years of the club’s history Twomey‘s achievements would have stood out, but his peak coincided with that of Fouhy and Daly and inevitably he was overshadowed. Nevertheless his career was brightly decorated. The East Cork junior championship he won in 1956 was his fourth, two of which led to county medals; two intermediate county medals followed those and he also captained Imokilly in the 1949 county final, which they lost to the Glen.
By then Twomey was a Cork senior. Along with Willie John Daly he franked his credentials with the All Ireland winning Cork juniors of 1947 and was promoted that winter. He won a National League with Cork the following year and played senior championship at centre field for three seasons, partnering Fouhy in the middle of the field in the 1950 Munster final. In Twomey’s time, though, Cork had no championship successes and, by the time they broke through again in1952, Twomey was gone.
In 1954 he took over as club secretary and remained in the position for four years. At that time the club didn’t have a rigid structure or processes. It wasn‘t until 1959, for example, that John O‘Connor introduced the practice of keeping written minutes at club meetings. So things were often done without meetings or debate and Twomey never shirked the responsibility of doing what he believed needed to be done. Not everybody always agreed with Twomey, but nobody disputed his devotion to the club.
In 1956 the opportunity to buy the field arose and the imperative to do so was obvious to Twomey and to others. The purchase, however, was fraught with difficulty and even the suggestion of intrigue. The club had been using the field since 1940, but in essence they were only guests. It was owned by the local nuns of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God and leased from them by club chairman Tom Barry who in turn allowed the club to use it.
The nuns made it known that they were anxious to sell but when Carrig approached the solicitor acting for the nuns his reaction was to advertise the property in the local press. In the light of other possible bidders Barry, Twomey and club treasurer Eamonn Cummins, who played a significant role in the project, realised the necessity to act quickly and secretively. With only £28 in the kitty Carrig were not in a position to enter into a bidding war. In an act of extraordinary generosity, however, Tom Barry offered to fund the purchase in what amounted to an interest free loan. Money, though, wasn‘t the only problem. Denis Conroy remembered it vividly.
“We decided on the bid at a meeting and there weren’t too many present. The bid was £10 higher than the highest bidder. I had taken legal advice on it that £10 above the highest bid was a legal bid. And when the tenders were opened there were two bids £10 higher than the highest bidder. I didn‘t think there was any fella in Carrig that time with Conroy’s brains – and there wasn‘t either at that time. Somebody had talked. Anyway we got it in the end.”
“We would never have got that field,” says Eamonn Cummins, “but for Sean Twomey. Sean Twomey went to the Superior (Sister Costka) in the convent and it was through that visit that the field was given to Carrig. She told the solicitor that she was anxious for the club to get it.”
Access to the field was another issue which became an unexpected problem. The club needed some ground from the school, in exchange for ground that the club would give in return. Eventually this was secured after prolonged and difficult negotiations.
For legal reasons the property had to be held in trust and the trustees appointed were the chairman and secretary of the county board, Tom Barry, John Roche, Denis Conroy, Eamonn Cummins, Sean Twomey and Rev Fr O‘Connell. Once the deal was done money began to flood in. A £200 grant from the Munster Council added to a £500 interest-free loan from the Cork County Board and topped up with a parish collection. In all, six acres had been purchased at a cost of £335. When Torn Barry was repaid and other costs cleared, £293, 8 shillings and 3 pence was left in the field fund at the end of 1956.
In bullish humour Twomey finished his field committee report to the AGM thus: “All this work has been done by the committee and if anyone thinks they (the committee] did not do enough or that others could do better they are welcome to try, but only after all who have subscribed have been notified and asked to attend a meeting.” Those who knew Twomey will recognise those sentiments as the authentic voice of the man.
We can‘t be sure of all the fields used by the club through the decades. We have records of pre-Association matches at Murty‘s Cross, a little later at the Milestone Field in Ballyadam, as well as a field adjacent to the railway station owned by Quirke. In 1908 the club acquired Lane‘s Field, also known as the “Enclosure” or “Racecourse”, having held the 1892 tournament at that venue.
The 1918 senior championship winning team trained at Annesgrove and also possibly in a field that is now Pearse Place. During the 1920s, 30s and 40s the “Pond” field in Terrysland was used by kind permission of TG Barry, Greenville. The club also used O’Connell’s field in what is now the Castleview estate for a period in the 1950s and John Sheehan’s field in Ballintubber for a year or two while the current grounds were being developed.
The debt owed by the club to those who had the foresight to make the purchase in 1956 is incalculable. While most clubs own their own grounds now that wasn‘t the case in the 1950s and Carrig‘s enterprise came a decade before the GAA made a national plea to clubs to purchase their own grounds. Twomey‘s role in this and his contribution to the club over many years is commemorated in the Sean Twomey cup, played for every year in an underage tournament run by the club. A fitting tribute.
Early in 1957 Carrig were involved in some unfinished business from 1956. The Cork senior hurling league (Beamish Shield) had run over and Carrig had qualified for the final against St Finbarrs. The Barrs were the reigning county champions, but a week before they played Carrig they sensationally lost to Seandun in the first round of the 1957 championship.
The Beamish Shield final turned out to be an extraordinary match. With minutes to go only a point separated the sides, 2-5 to 2-4, in favour of the Barrs. But in those minutes the Barrs blitzed Carrig with 2-3 and Carrig found themselves on the end of a double-scores beating, 4-8 to 2-4.
“Up to the Barrs’ purple patch the game was clean and hard-fought, with some entertaining hurling,” reported the Examiner. “Carrig had the advantage of the slight cross-wind in the first half, but most of the good work of the half-forwards and midfield was wasted either by wides from their own efforts or the ineptitude of their full forward line. The Carrig defence stood up well to the wind and Barrs’ pressure for twenty five minutes of the second half, but collapsed completely in the end.”
Carrig scorers: Willie John Daly 1-1, Kevin Tabb 0-3, Liam O’Driscoll 1-0.
Carrig recovered sufficiently to beat Carrigdhoun two weeks later in the first round of the championship, advancing to the second round for the first time in years. The final margin was just a goal, 2-12 to 4-3, but once again Carrig suffered a capitulation of sorts and allowed an eight point half-time lead to diminish to a point at one stage in the closing stages. Only a brilliant save from John O’Connor in the dying minutes prevented the lead from disappearing altogether.
Leading 0-10 to 0-2 at the break Carrig seemed to be coasting: “Mattie Fouhy at right half back was unbeatable in the air,” reported the Examiner, “and showed delightful anticipation in picking up loose balls for lengthy clearances. With Paddy Hartnett less spectacular but impassable in the centre, the losers’ half forward line was completely eclipsed. At midfield Willie Moore was furthering the supply of ball to the attack and here, obviously, the danger was on the wings from Willie John Daly and Kevin Tabb, who readily picked off points.”
Carrigdhoun got two goals in the third quarter, but Carrig kept them at bay with a goal from John Ahern and two points from Daly. But then Carrigdhoun got a third goal and though O’Connor was inspired between the posts, he couldn‘t prevent a fourth goal shortly afterwards which cut Carrig’s lead to a bare point. Crucially, however, Carrig‘s response was instant. Daly drove a ball at shoulder height towards the goalmouth and Ahern flicked it to the net. With his final save O’Connor did the rest.
Carrig: John O’Connor, Willie Savage, Billy O’Brien, JJ Higgins, Mattie Fouhy 0-1, Paddy Hartnett, Din Joe Clifford, Willie Moore, Dominic Neville, Willie John Daly 0-6, Seanie Butler, Kevin Tabb 0-4, Liam O’Driscoll, Jimmy O’Brien 0-1, John Ahern 2-0.
Subs: Joe Neville for Dominic Neville, Dominic Neville for Joe Neville.
For the next round against Sars in the first week of July Carrig made four changes, two of them in the full back line where Sean Twomey, now in the twilight of his career, was picked to play on the edge of the square. Ultimately it wasn’t enough. The Examiner reported that Carrig “passed quietly” out of the Championship, undone by “a lack of able forwards.” Once again John O‘Connor was superb in goal, even outshining the Limerick inter-county goalkeeper Jim Hogan who was playing for Sars: “He saved at all sides and from every angle and very often with backs and forwards all round him.”
Carrig played against the wind in the first half and though Seanie Butler found the net Carrig trailed by 2-6 to 1-2 at the break. Carrig moved Willie John Daly to centre field in the second half in an attempt to get things moving, but it seriously debilitated the attack where only Kevin Tabb was making any impression.
Tabb’s form was so good that summer that he was picked for Cork in a number of challenge matches: “Tabb was all over the place,” reported the Examiner, “had they more like him they could have won the day.” They didn‘t; Sars moved on, 3-10 to 2-7, and eventually won the county championship.
Carrig: John O’Connor, Paddy O’Brien, Sean Twomey, Billy O’Brien, Mattie Fouhy, Paddy Hartnett, Joe Neville, Willie Moore, Dominic Neville, Kevin Tabb, Seanie Butler, Willie John Daly, John Ahern, Paddy Roche, Liam O’Driscoll.
Subs: Liam Butler for Dominic Neville, D J Clifford for Joe Neville.
After the histrionics of their first round victory over Carrigdhoun in 1957, Carrig were engaged in a melodrama again in the 1958 first round against Carbery. Trailing by three goals at half time Carrig spun the game on its head to win by three goals at the finish, 6-9 to 5-3.
“For the greater part of the first half Carrig played a losing game,” reported the Examiner, “but an inspired switch that brought veteran Willie John Daly to centre forward was the biggest single factor contributing to the downfall of the divisional side. Daly, though lacking his former speed, showed his customary terrier-like capacity when he took over on the 40.”
“Throwing off his boots he rallied the failing Carrigtwohill spirit to great heights and in this sphere he was very capably assisted by the red-haired Joe Neville, who did a tremendous amount of work at midfield, and by the accuracy from frees of fellow veteran Mattie Fouhy. The trio were the mainstay of the team with Eddie Roche, Paddy Hartnett, goalie John O‘Connor and full forward Paddy Roche also helping to save the day.”
Carrig: John O’Connor, Willie Savage, Sean Twomey, Tommy O‘Donovan, Din Joe Clifford, Paddy Hartnett, Mattie Fouhy 0-5, Joe Neville, Willie Moore 0-2, Dominic Neville, Paddy O’Neill, Eddie Roche 2-2, Liam O‘Driscoll, Paddy Roche 3-0, Willie John Daly.
Carrig were not given much chance of beating the Barrs in the county semi final. In his preview in the Examiner Rambler reflected the prevailing wisdom: “The Barrs are expected to win but Carrig have always played their best hurling against the Lough side, and with that great determination which the East Cork side shows anything may happen.” At the time of writing Rambler would not have known that Mattie Fouhy and Joe Neville were to miss the match through injury. Their absence heightened the nobility of Carrig’s performance.
“Underdogs Carrig nearly confounded the critics,” began the Examiners report, “imbued with such a will to win that they led at the interval by 1-6 to 0-3. They won all the praise and if they lost the spoils (2-9 to 1-7) they at least had the great satisfaction of giving St Finbarrs their biggest fright for some time.
“Although the hurling on the whole left something to be desired, there was enough devil in the East Cork men‘s play and sufficient likelihood of their bringing off a first class surprise to maintain interest for most of the game. Willie John Daly at centre back was the team’s inspiration.”
“Fit and determined that nothing should beat him he kept the Barrs attack very much at bay in the first half when he dominated young Mick Leahy. However, he burned himself out and was much less mobile when facing the breeze in the second half.”
Tim Cronin at corner forward was the Barrs‘ most dangerous forward but a teenage Leo Kidney had him in his pocket for most of the match. The Barrs were so rattled that they were forced to introduce Fr Bernie Murphy, a former Cork player who was home on holidays and whose name didn’t even appear on the programme.
“Looking weightier now than the last time we saw him in a Cork jersey he struck a number of effective balls whilst on the field,” said the Examiner. “His very shot went straight to the hand of Johnny O’Connor in the Carrig goal and, when the young custodian made the only mistake in an otherwise fine display by failing to hold the ball, a diminutive Timmy Cronin was in like a flash to kick it to the net. It put the Barrs on level terms and marked the turning point of the game.”
Afterwards the Barrs struck six points in succession and Carrig had no answer.
Carrig: John O’Connor, Paddy Hartnett, Sean Twomey, Leo Kidney, Din Joe Clifford, Willie John Daly, J Moore, Willie Moore, Paddy Hartnett 0-1, Dominic Neville 0-2, Neilus Kidney, Eddie Roche 1-3, Jimmy O’Brien 0-1, Paddy Roche, Paddy O’Neill.
Sub: Val Deasy for Paddy Hartnett.
Willie John Daly retired at the end of 1958, but it turned out to be nothing more than a sabbatical. Fifteen minutes from the end of the first round against Carbery in 1959, with the game in the balance, Willie John changed into his gear and took the field. “Willie John took very little active part,” reported the Examiner, “but his very presence seemed to demoralise the opposition and rejuvenated his own side in a 3-9 to 2-3 victory.”
The scores were level, 2-3 to 1-6, when he joined the action but two goals from Paddy Roche in the last quarter settled the issue: “Carbery looked good enough to win – or Carrigtwohill poor enough to lose – after 15 minutes of the second half,” said the Examiner. “Even playing against the wind Carbery had more of the play, but their attack was less effective, even against a Carrigtwohill defence which was palpably weak on occasions.”
“At left full back Mattie Fouhy had a quiet game. Eddie Young severely troubled Joe Neville while left half back Val Deasy was most effective as a stopper. Throughout the game Paul Hartnett was most effective in the centre. John ‘Baker’ O’Flynn (who had rejoined Carrig from Ballinacurra) appeared to own the ball at left full forward, but it was Paddy Roche who slammed in the vital scores.”
Carrig: John O’Connor, Mattie Fouhy, Willie Savage, Leo Kidney, Din Joe Clifford, Joe Neville, Val Deasy, Paddy Hartnett, Paul Hartnett, Dominic Neville, Willie Moore, Neilus Kidney, John ‘Baker’ O’Flynn, Paddy Roche, Liam O’Driscoll.
Sub: Willie John Daly for Neilus Kidney.
Carrig’s form was encouraging in the run up to the second round match against UCC two months later. In the league they beat Sars by 5-8 to 4-9 and Glen Rovers by 3-6 to 2-8. Liam O‘Driscoll and John ‘Baker’ O’Flynn were in especially good form and Willie John Daly had officially suspended his retirement.
After years of agitation at the county board, Carrig succeeded in securing one of their championship fixtures for East Cork, at last, rather than the Athletic Grounds. The novelty of it added enormously to the build-up and with eight intercounty players on the College team a huge crowd packed Midleton on the first Sunday of July.
There were still no dressing rooms in the GAA field, so Carrig togged off in the Midleton club rooms over the post office in the main street and walked down. As they took the field they couldn’t have known how significant the match would be in the history of the club.
Everything began so well. Carrig led by 10 points shortly after half-time and it was apparent that the College were ill prepared. But then UCC hit Carrig with 3-2 without reply and before Carrig could catch their breath the game was gone.
“The East Cork men started off in fine style, hurling fast and furiously and responding to the urgings of Willie John Daly at centre back who played with the enthusiasm of a teenager,” reported the Examiner. “So apparent was the College lack of training that we thought Carrig would win hands down at half time.”
In the middle of UCC’s comeback Mattie Fouhy was sent off in what the Examiner reported were “very harsh circumstances, and it clearly had a very upsetting effect on the Carrig team.” For a while the match seemed to be heading towards anarchy. A Carrig player struck the referee and at one stage it looked as if Carrig might walk off the field. It could have got worse.
“Many of the large crowd disagreed vehemently with this decision (the sending-off),” reported the Examiner, “and the referee was fortunate to escape after the game when he had to be escorted off the field.” His luck didn’t hold very long. Togging off in the Midleton Arms Hotel after the match a Carrig supporter waited for him to emerge before setting upon him.
Willie John Daly takes up the story: “Charlie Conway was the referee and he rode us the same day. He put Mattie off. Sure, Mattie and Long were only wrestling. I know he should have put me off. I got the ball and I skimmed his ear with it. ‘Now put me off if you want to’, I said to him. But he was afraid to put me off. So I was reported then for my conduct and I was called to a meeting up at the county board. Charlie got up and said, ‘Willie John and myself are the best of friends, I have nothing whatsoever to say.”‘
Over thirty years later Mickey Shea, a great Carrig supporter, was recovering from an operation in St Finbarr’s Hospital when Conway was admitted as a patient to the same ward. Conway was hardly settled in his bed when Mickey spotted him and, with no regard for his own condition or for Conway’s, re-opened the wounds of 1959. The events of that day in Midleton bit deeply.
Two minutes from the end of the match Willie John, who was playing on with a broken nose, struck a free to the net to leave just a goal between the sides, 4-10 to 5-4, but it was Carrig’s last shot. For Willie John it was the last time he would rattle an opponent‘s net. He returned to retirement, this time for good. Many others followed. So close to a place in the semi-final, defeat turned out to be a watershed.
Carrig: Dave O’Keeffe, Mattie Fouhy, Willie Savage, Leo Kidney, Din Joe Clifford, Willie John Daly 1-0, Joe Neville, Paddy Hartnett, Paul Hartnett, John O’Flynn 0-2, Willie Moore, Neilus Kidney, Liam O’Driscoll 1-0, Paddy Roche 1-0, John O’Connor 2-2.
Subs: Val Deasy for Joe Neville, Joe Neville for Neilus Kidney.
The 1959 Championship was also the last that Willie Moore played for Carrig. Moore was from Lisgoold parish, like half a dozen others of the Carrig team in the 1950s: the Neville brothers, Joe and Dominic, Willie’s brother John, Din Joe Clifford and Willie Savage. Carrig had just gone senior when Moore joined in 1951 and along with Paddy Hartnett, he was a crucial part of Carrig‘s recruitment drive that year. The East Cork board objected to both transfers but Carrig took it as far as the Munster Council and in the end they had their way.
Moore was the target for more clubs than Carrig. He had been a Cork minor in 1948 and 1949 and graduated to the senior panel for the 1950 championship. He had a connection though with Carrig which influenced his choice: “The famous Jim Barry from Carrig was married to an aunt of mine and shortly after I was born he put a little hurley in the cot in Carrig colours and a letter saying that this young fella would play for Carrig and for Cork one day.” And so it was.
Moore’s mother died giving birth to him, so much of his youth was spent with an aunt of his in Turner’s Cross. His first club was Nemo Rangers and there were more to follow when he left the City. Mogeely were his minor team, Bride Rovers were his second and Carrig were his last. All the while he was playing minor football for Glanmire and starring for St Colman‘s Fermoy, on their first Harty Cup winning team in 1948. When the time came, though, he was happy to settle with Carrig.
“There was a tremendous spirit in Carrig at that time. They’d back you to the hilt and you’d get tremendous help from them. I remember my first year with the Cork minors, I was playing with Bride Rovers at the time, and I cycled down to Carrig to be picked up. I left my bicycle in Conroy’s yard and I was waiting for the car when Tom Barry came along. Tom brought me up to his house, gave me breakfast, and dropped me down to the corner again. It was only a small thing but you remember things like that.”
He was playing junior B for Lisgoold when Cork picked him for the first round of the 1950 championship against Waterford in Thurles. Christy Ring walked the town with him before the match explaining to him what to expect, but still there were surprises.
“We were walking in the parade when a fella jumped out of the crowd at the corner flag. It was the Lisgoold secretary. He took off his cap and said he’d like to wish me luck on behalf of the Lisgoold club. Playing with Cork though was a real eye-opener. Training in the Athletic Grounds was an hour and a half of hurling and you’d be ashamed if you missed a ball, doubling or pulling, nobody missed a ball. Before matches then Sean Og Murphy, the county board secretary, used to say to us that only Ringy was allowed pick the ball and the rest of us were to pull. I suppose that‘s where the training came in.”
Moore didn’t hold his place for the Munster final in Killarney and, despite his good form for Carrig, it would be 1954 before Cork picked him again. His call-up was extraordinary by modern practices. They didn’t have a ‘phone in his house, so on the night before Cork played Limerick in the Munster championship a call was put through to the local sergeant to tell Willie to be ready for the morning. Ring, who used drive the East Cork players in his Ford Consul, pulled up at the gate on Sunday morning.
Moore, naturally, wasn’t listed on the programme but, when Willie John Daly got injured, he was sent on at centre field with Mick Cashman being switched to the forwards. This time he held his place and the summer ended with the completion of Cork‘s three-in-a-row.
“Things were fierce different then. There wasn’t the hype there is now about All Irelands. After the match we went back into the dressing room while Ringy went up to accept the cup. He came in with the cup and put it on the table in the dressing room and that was the first we saw of it. When we arrived back in Cork station on the Monday night there was nobody there and Tough Barry was disgusted. But in one ten minutes the place was thronged. We had a mighty night in Carrig then on the Tuesday night.”
For the next two years his Cork career was interrupted by injuries. In 1955 he broke his ankle playing in a pitch opening against Galway, ten days before Cork lost to Clare in the Munster championship. A year later a broken hand kept him out of contention early in the summer and he never forced his way back on to the panel as Cork reached the All Ireland final again.
His bad luck went further than that: “In 1954 Cork went to America, but even though I was on the team then they went
as 1952 league champions so those were the players they brought. Then in 1958 they went again, and even though I was playing that time too, they went as 1956 All Ireland finalists, so I missed out again.”
His father died in 1960 and though Moore was not yet 30 running the farm forced hurling to take a back seat. He finished his career playing junior with Lisgoold, and even made a cameo appearance for them in the 1970 junior B championship, six years after he’d retired. That was the final curtain.
The Carrig team that had threatened to win a county championship at the beginning of the 1950s had disintegrated by 1960. Along with the departure of Willie John Daly and Willie Moore, John ‘Baker’ O’Flynn also retired. To compound the retirements Kevin Tabb was killed tragically in a car accident on the Fota road in 1959. He had been one of Carrig’s brightest stars.
Carrig tried desperately to patch up the team. John White, a Castlemartyr born teacher who had played senior championship for Galway in 1959, returned to a job in Fermoy that year and, with Carrig‘s great knack for acquiring players, he signed up for them.
Along with John O’Connor at centre half back, Paul Hartnett at right halfback and Dave O’Keeffe in goal, White played exceptionally well in the first round of the 1960 championship against Blackrock. But as a team, Carrig were exceptionally poor.
“Blackrock freewheeled to victory (6-8 to 1-4)” reported the Examiner. “They encountered a few bumps mid-way through the first half but coasted home after the resumption.” The bumps were caused by a goal from Val O’Connor which was followed by Carrig’s only spell of pressure for the hour. However, it passed without further alarms for Blackrock. “The Blackrock defence could afford mistakes against a rather crude opposition,” said the Examiner, “who were even more unhappy on the slightly greasy sod.”
Carrig: Dave O‘Keeffe, Val Deasy, Leo Kidney, Willie Savage, Paul Hartnett, John O’Connor, Neilus Kidney, Liam O’Driscoll, Joe Neville, Dominic Neville, Mattie Fouhy, John White, Val O‘Connor, Eddie Roche, Paddy Roche.
John O’Connor impressed the Cork selectors enough to be picked at right half back for the Munster championship against Clare and Paul Hartnett made it onto the bench. Carrig, though, had too few players in their class and, after ten seasons as a senior club, another era had drawn to a close. In 1961 Carrig would be a junior club again.
In the 75 years since the foundation of the club Carrig had competed in 58 senior championships and reached seven senior county finals. In 1960 nobody would have countenanced the possibility of the century ending without Carrig becoming a senior club again. The next forty years, however, would bring some of the leanest times in the club’s history.