History - A Chairman and his Destiny
Unlike 1978 when Carrig readjusted well to junior after a period at intermediate, the drop in 1985 turned out to be massively disconcerting. An emerging Cloyne team beat Carrig well in the ﬁrst round of the junior A hurling championship and later in the year beat them again in the ﬁnal of the league. In the days before the Imokilly People coverage of local GAA was much less exhaustive than it is now and, if any account of those matches exists, they have escaped our net. Consider it a small mercy.
In his report to the AGM the hurling secretary Anthony Barry regretted that the match was ﬁxed for only a week after the ﬁrst round of the junior A football championship: “We were unfortunate to have lost a player as a result of this, especially as we were already without a number of key players. We took the initiative in this game but, due to giving away three easy goals and since we had to earn our scores with great difficulty, we were defeated.”
Carrig gathered themselves to win the O’Flynn Cup with victories over Bride Rovers, Youghal and Castlemartyr and kept going to reach the league ﬁnal against Cloyne. “We were beaten by one goal,” wrote Barry, “in a game that could have been won, but in defeat we can be proud of the great spirit and commitment and also self-discipline which the team showed.”
Carrig (championship): Jimmy O’Reilly, Davy Barry, Peter Hogan, Anthony Barry, Gerard O‘Mahony, John Horgan, Denis O’Mahony, Mickey Rohan, John Joe Harte, Finbarr Rohan, Billy Dineen, Dermot Cashman, Kieran Horgan, Pat O’Connor, Noel Kidney.
Subs: Donal Scannell, Frank Morrissey, Sean Kennedy, Liam Manning.
Cloyne were also Carrig’s nemesis in the first round of the junior A football championship in a match that Carrig threw away. Leading by 1-3 to 0-2 at half time they survived a soft Cloyne goal mid-way through the second half to keep their noses in front. But then two goals against the run of play killed Carrig.
Carrig exacted some measure of revenge in the ﬁrst round of the junior B hurling championship with a one point victory and it propelled the club on a campaign which would ﬁnish with their ﬁrst junior B title in 44 years. That year Carrig entered both of their hurling teams in the A league, an innovation reluctantly accepted by the East Cork board but which reaped signiﬁcant dividends.
A fancied Shanagarry Rovers were Carrig’s opponents in the second round and in the build-up to the match in early August the club received a letter from an anonymous sympathiser in Shanagarry. Apparently fed up with listening to talk in his local about the merits of this Shanagarry team the self styled ‘Old Follower’ kindly pointed out their strengths and was vividly frank about their weaknesses.
“They are afraid of one of the players,” he wrote. “He is very slow and if ye‘re full forward plays a roving game he will be badly beaten. He described another player as very false and they are afraid of ye taking an early lead. Now, for the sake of your good old club, get the boys training immediately and beat them.”
Carrig fulﬁlled Old Follower’s wishes and went on to overcome Cobh in the semi-ﬁnal. Castlelyons’ ﬁrst team were Carrig‘s opponents in the final on a wet and blustery day in Lisgoold but the elements made no difference to Carrig and they won decisively.
Playing with a stiff breeze in the ﬁrst half the brilliant Seanie Cashman pounced for three goals; the third, on the stroke of half time, was a real beauty when he dispossessed the Castlelyons keeper and stroked the ball home. A lead of 4-4 to 2-4 at half time wasn’t necessarily conclusive, but the Carrig defence was outstanding in the second half, restricting Castlelyons to one point. Carrig added 1-1 and ﬁnished winners by 4-6 to 2-5.
Carrig: Gerard Barry, Mick Loftus, Paddy Geaney, Kieran Horgan(c), John O‘Mahony, David O‘Sullivan, Liam Manning, Philip Kidney 0-1, Donal Scannell, Ollie Sheehan, Mick O’Mahony, Frank Morrissey 1-1, Seanie Cashman 3-1, Anthony Barry (The Rock) 1-0, James Horgan 0-3.
Subs: Neilus McCarthy, Noel Kidney, Con Warren, Tony O’Flynn.
Selectors: Michael John Roche, Fr Coakley, Neilus Kidney
Elsewhere in 1985 there were good runs. The junior B footballers beat Glanmire and Lisgoold before going out to Youghal in the semi-ﬁnal by 1-9 to 1-4. The U-21 hurlers had a great win over Cobh in the ﬁrst round of their championship before losing to St Catherines in the next.
The outstanding performance of the year though was by the U-21 footballers, winning an A championship in that grade for the ﬁrst time in the club’s history. They beat Youghal well in the semi-ﬁnal, 3-7 to 2-2, to set up a ﬁnal against Cobh in Caherlag on the first Saturday of October.
A cross wind slightly aided Carrig in the first half and with JJ Mahony outstanding at centre back and Terence O’Brien dominating centre field alongside Philip Kidney they went 0-3 to ahead after twenty minutes with two Kidney frees and one point from Barry McGrath. Cobh, however, rallied in the last ten minutes of the half and reduced the deﬁcit to a point at the break.
The switch of Donal Scannell to centre forward after half time was critical. He drifted into midfield to fetch kick outs, landed a massive point from fifty yards and nearly scored a goal midway through the half. Eventually the goal came from Tony O’Reilly. His initial shot was saved, but he collected the rebound and slotted it home. Cobh got a goal of their own with five minutes left to make it a tight finish but Carrig held out by two points, 1-4 to 1-2.
Carrig: Denis Dennehy, Richie McSweeney, David O’Sullivan, James Ring, Tommy Mulcahy, Gerard O’Mahony, Noel Kidney, Philip Kidney 0-2, Terence O’Brien, Kieran Horgan, Tony O’Reilly, 1-0 Con Warren(c), Donie Mulcahy, Donal Scannell 0-1, Barry McGrath 0-1.
Sub: Robert Kidney for McGrath
The next match against Millstreet in Glantane eight days later was the ﬁrst by a Carrig football team in an adult county championship since the intermediate team of 1911. Apparently inhibited by the occasion Carrig began tentatively and were punished with a string of early scores. It was the second half before Carrig really settled down and in the end the margin of defeat was only ﬁve points, 1-9 to 1-4. More important than the result was the charting of long forgotten territory. Another milestone.
The momentum carried forward to the 1986 championship when, after a replay against Glenville, Carrig got past the first round of the junior A football championship for the first time. It shouldn’t have taken a replay. Carrig were clearly the superior team, but in the final quarter they had leads of three points and two points pegged back; Glenville‘s final equaliser came in the very last minute to leave it 1-6 a piece. Ned Barden had been the outstanding Carrig forward with three points from play with David Sullivan weighing in with 1-2, both points from frees. Kieran Horgan got the other point.
Carrig: Denis Dennehy, John Ring, Pat Kavanagh, Anthony Barry, Barry McGrath, Frank Morrissey(c), Noel Kidney, Donal Scannell, Gerard O‘Mahony, Kieran Horgan, Ned Barden, Mick O’Mahony, David O’Sullivan, Tony O’Flynn, Paul O’Brien.
Sub: Sean Kennedy for Mick O‘Mahony.
Injury deprived Carrig of Barden for the replay, but John Horgan, Philip Kidney and Seanie Cashman came into the team and this time Carrig made no mistake. They squandered a second minute penalty, but after twenty two minutes Kieran Horgan got the first of his two goals and by half time Carrig’s lead was 1-5 to 0-2. Glenville rallied brieﬂy after the break, but with Donal Scannell lording centre field Carrig pressed home their advantage in the last ten minutes to win by 2-9 to 1-2.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, John Ring, Pat Kavanagh, Liam Manning, Barry McGrath, Frank Morrissey , Noel Kidney, Donal Scannell 0-1, John Horgan, Kieran Horgan 2-2, Seanie Cashman 0-1, Philip Kidney, David O’Sullivan 0-3, Tony O’Flynn0-2, Paul O’Brien.
Sub: Gerard O‘Mahony for Paul O’Brien.
Carrig lost to Aghada in the next round, but the roots of football in the club continued to strengthen. The U-12 footballers won an East Cork championship, defeating Killeagh in the ﬁnal after a replay, 2-3 to 2-2. They drew with Carrigaline in the ﬁrst round of the county, but lost the replay, 3-4 to 2-3.
Then the U-14 footballers followed suit. Their campaign opened with a 2-6 to 1-3 defeat of Castlelyons before they squeezed out Aghada in the semi-ﬁnal by a point, 1-3 to 1-2. In the ﬁnal they trailed against Castlemartyr early in the second half, but blew them away before the ﬁnish to win by 4-2 to 1-1. In the semi-ﬁnal of the country county they got past Valley Rovers, 1-5 to 0-4, before drawing with Kilshannig in the ﬁnal, 1-2 to 0-5. In the replay, however, their run was ﬁnally halted, 2-4 to 1-2.
Imokilly regained the senior football championship in 1986 with a one point victory over St Finbarrs in the ﬁnal. There was no Carrig player on the panel but when Imokilly returned to the ﬁnal a year later Niall Barrett was a selector and John Horgan, JJ O’Mahony and Donal Scannell were on the panel; this time, however, they lost to Nemo Rangers.
The junior A hurlers beat St Catherines in the ﬁrst round of the 1986 championship but had played poorly and in the next round suffered defeat to Cloyne for the second year in a row. The margin this time was smaller but the circumstances of the match were just as galling. Carrig dominated the ﬁrst three quarters of an hour, but, despite two goals from full forward John Horgan, Carrig failed to put the game beyond Cloyne‘s reach. Cloyne had no such difficulties when the pendulum swung and disposed of Carrig again.
Carrig: Pat Kavanagh, Sean Kennedy, Peter Hogan, Anthony Barry, Davy Barry, Gerard O’Mahony, Liam Manning, John Joe Harte , Donal Scannell, Philip Kidney, Billy Dineen, Robert Kidney, Seanie Cashman, John Horgan, Pat O’Connor.
Subs: Mickey Rohan for Robert Kidney, Denis O’Mahony for Peter Hogan.
There was some consolation for the hurlers at the end of the year, but not before some soul-searching. In his report to the 1986 AGM hurling secretary John Kelleher wrote that “a special meeting was called to discuss the problems being encountered with hurling in Carrig. It was decided to pick a panel of players who would give a definite commitment and to do our utmost to win the A league.”
They reached the semi-ﬁnal with a victory over Sars in the last of the regulation league matches and then beat Sars again in the semi-ﬁnal. In the middle of December Killeagh were their opponents in the league ﬁnal, and in a pulsating match Carrig came from seven points down to win by three, 3-5 to 1-8.
The game swung on two Carrig goals just before the break when they were trailing by 1-5 to 0-1. Pat O’Connor, in the twilight of his long career and just introduced as a sub, pounced for the ﬁrst and a minute later John Horgan got the second.
Killeagh had completely dominated the ﬁrst half, but their lead had been cut to a point and early in the second half a free from O‘Connor put Carrig level. Shortly afterwards Pat Kavanagh smashed home a goal and Carrig had the momentum. With Peter Hogan, Davy Barry and Anthony Barry outstanding in defence and Donal Scannell hurling magniﬁcently at centre field Carrig clinched victory with two points in the last ﬁve minutes.
Carrig: Jimmy O’Reilly, Gerard O‘Mahony, Peter Hogan, Anthony Barry, Davy Barry, Denis O’Mahony, Liam Manning, John Joe Harte, Donal Scannell 0-1, Mickey Rohan, Billy Dineen 0-1, Gerard Barry, Barry McGrath, John Horgan 1-0, Pat Kavanagh 1-1.
Subs: Ned Barden, Michael O’Mahony, Frank Morrissey, Pat Horgan, Paul Keegan, Pat O’Connor 1-2, Philip Kidney, Brian Murphy.
The junior B hurlers reached the semi-ﬁnal of the East Cork championship with victories over Erin’s Own and Lisgoold and it seemed they would go all the way to the ﬁnal when they led Cloyne by 1-4 to 0-1 after 24 minutes. John ‘Junior’ Buckley got the Carrig goal and Noel Kidney, Ned Barden and Jim Ring were driving the team forward.
Just before half time, however, Carrig conceded a goal from a penalty and it sparked a Cloyne rally which saw them take the lead ten minutes into the second half; they were never headed again. Carrig managed a goal from Con Warren and a point from Frank Morrissey in the closing minutes but by then they were chasing a seven point deﬁcit and in the end they lost by three, 2-11 to 2-8.
Carrig: Brian Murphy, Paul Keegan, John O’Mahony, Kieran Horgan, Noel Kidney, Ned Barden, John Ring, Jim Ring, Frank Morrissey 0-4, Ollie Sheehan, Mick O’Mahony 0-1, Gerard Barry 0-2, John ‘Junior’ Buckley 1-0, Anthony Barry 0-1, Barry McGrath.
Subs: Paul O’Brien for Barden; Con Warren 1-0 for Sheehan; Ned Barden for John Ring.
The U-21s competed at A grade in both football and hurling and went out to the same opposition. Sars came to Carrig for the hurling match and a young Carrig side put up spirited resistance. Sars led by 0-7 to 0-4 at half time and spurted further ahead when Teddy McCarthy was switched to centre forward early in the second half.
Con Warren and Paul O’Brien, though, stormed into the game at centre field and Carrig cut the deﬁcit to a point. They badly needed a goal and it eventually came from Gerard Barry, but not before Sars had a goal of their own and they got another in injury time to seal the issue, 2-12 to 1-9.
Carrig: Brian Murphy, Christy Roche, Paul Keegan, Pat Horgan, Tommy Mulcahy, Gerard O‘Mahony, Richie McSweeney, Paul O’Brien 0-1, Jim O’Connor 0-1, Gerard Barry 1-1, Philip Kidney 0-6, Con Warren, Eddie Cummins, Gary Horgan, John Junior Buckley.
Subs: Jimmy McCarthy for Eddie Cummins, Anthony Ryan for Gary Horgan. Other subs: Tony Bunce, John Ronan, Richard Nagle, Kenneth Kidney.
The football meeting with Glanmire at Caherlag came in the autumn, on the night before Teddy McCarthy left for Australia with the Irish Composite Rules team. McCarthy didn’t play a full match, but he played for long enough to shepherd his team through and Carrig never looked like winning.
The bad run of defeats for the junior A hurlers continued in 1987. This time they fell to Aghada on a foul evening in Cloyne. “A heavy, greasy sliotar made a mockery of one-touch control,” reported the Southern Star. “Rucks and mauls developed around the pitch with fair regularity as the teams battled to gain ground. The side who would commit the least mistakes and execute the basics of the game better was always likely to win. Aghada achieved both of these.”
Nothing much separated the sides for the ﬁrst 40 minutes. Aghada got lucky with an early goal from 50 yards but Carrig took the lead before the quarter hour with a goal by John Horgan. Aghada recovered to surge into a four point lead, 2-3 to 1-2, but then, against the run of play, Carrig got their second goal on the blow of half time when Pat Kavanagh’s powerful ground stroke from thirty yards found the net.
Seven minutes into the second half Carrig edged one point in front, but amazingly they failed to score for the last 23 minutes. By the beginning of the final quarter Aghada were in front and as Carrig persisted in going for goals Aghada picked off their points to win by five, 2-9 to 2-4.
Carrig: Jimmy O’Reilly, Gerard O’Mahony, Denis O’Mahony, Anthony Barry, Davy Barry, Ned Barden, Liam Manning, Billy Dineen, Robert Kidney, Pat Kavanagh, Gerard Barry, Barry McGrath, Philip Kidney, Mick O’Mahony, John Horgan.
Subs: Mickey Rohan for Manning, Pat O’Connor for McGrath.
Glory in 1987 belonged to the junior B hurlers. Their campaign began with an easy win over St Itas and followed it up with a 1-15 to 0-10 victory over Midleton at Cobh. Playing into a strong wind in the first half Carrig managed six points from a minimum of opportunities to trail by just three at the break.
With the breeze behind them Noel Kidney, Tony O’Flynn and Donal Scannell drove Carrig forward and ten minutes into the second half Kieran Horgan pounced for a goal to give substance to Carrig’s pressure. Horgan ended up top scorer with 1-1, while Seanie Cashman, Paul O’Brien, Frank Morrissey and Scannell added three points each; Peter Hogan and Jim O’Connor completed the Carrig scoring.
In the semi-ﬁnal Carrig squeezed past Lisgoold by a point, 0-8 to 0-7. Carrig started badly and went four points down but were spared terminal damage by Lisgoold’s poor shooting. Carrig ﬁnally got their act together sufﬁciently to take the lead for the ﬁrst time 13 minutes into the second half and they held it together from there to the ﬁnish. Team captain Donal Scannell headed the scoring with four points, Jim O’Connor chipped in with two while Seanie Cashman and Noel Kidney got one each.
Cloyne were Carrig’s opponents in the ﬁnal and, in a thrilling match in Midleton, they ﬁnished level. Carrig only trailed for two minutes of the sixty and it was Cloyne who were forced to come from behind in the closing minutes, but a draw was nonetheless a fair result in a match of “unrelenting pace and a consistently high level of skill,” according to the Southern Star.
Carrig were ﬁrst out of the blocks and an early goal by Seanie Cashman helped them a 1-4 to 0-2 lead. Cloyne came back with a goal of their own, but propelled by the brilliance of 18 year old Jim O’Connor at wing forward Carrig went in ﬁve points ahead at the break, 1-8 to 1-3.
Cloyne made a raft of switches at half time and within ten minutes they wiped out Carrig’s lead to go a point ahead. From there to the end it was score for score. Carrig had more chances to win, but their tally of wides rose to 16 while Cloyne’s was only nine. It ﬁnished 1-11 to 2-8.
Carrig: Brian Murphy, Neilus McCarthy, Sean Kennedy, David Warren, Tony O’Flynn, Noel Kidney, David O’Sullivan, Donal Scannell 0-4, John Ring, Seanie Cashman 1-1, Jim O’Connor 0-5, Paul O’Brien 0-1, Kieran Horgan, Peter Hogan, Kenneth Kidney.
Subs: JJ Barry for Murphy; Pat Horgan for Hogan (injured); John Ronan for O’Flynn.
The replay took place in torrential rain and a chilling wind on the first Saturday of September. Carrig, however, coped with the conditions better and swept Cloyne off their feet with a brilliant start. Kenneth Kidney scrambled a goal in the first minute and before the quarter hour Kieran Horgan struck for two more goals to leave Carrig 3-2 to 0-1 ahead.
Granted, Carrig had the significant advantage of a wind but a half time lead of 3-5 to 1-1 set Cloyne a task which was ultimately beyond them. Despite heavy pressure Cloyne couldn’t force a second goal, even having a penalty saved in the last minute. Late in the match Carrig tacked on a couple of points to win handily, 3-8 to 1-5, and take their second junior B title in three years.
Carrig: JJ Barry, Neilus McCarthy, Sean Kennedy, John Ronan, Tony O’Flynn, Noel Kidney 0-1, David O’Sullivan, Donal Scannell 0-2, John Horgan, Seanie Cashman, Jim O’Connor 0-1, Paul O’Brien 0-1, Kenneth Kidney 1-0, Kieran Horgan 2-1, Frank Morrissey 0-2.
Football in the club continued to gather impetus. Sean Power, who had won a county championship with Beara in the1960s and had coached Midleton to the semi-final of the senior championship, agreed to coach Carrig. Dan Scannell, Niall Barrett and Charlie O’Sullivan had picked up the baton from Con O’Mahony and Pat Horgan and continued to drive football in the club. But they knew what Power’s expertise would bring to the setup and they sought him out.
A year before he had accepted their invitation to join the selectors on the sideline for the championship but in 1987 he took the next step. “Charlie (O‘Sullivan),” says Power, “made it sound so attractive.”
That year, for the ﬁrst time, nights were put aside speciﬁcally for football training. “It had always been sidelined,” says Power, “but that year we got a few things sorted out. After a lot of pushing and chasing of players by Niall (Barrett) the attendance at training was good and there was a momentum.”
They met Youghal in the quarter ﬁnal of the championship and let victory slip in the most extraordinary circumstances. Carrig dominated most of the match, kept Youghal scoreless for the ﬁrst 40 minutes, but then conceded 1-3 in the last six minutes relinquishing apparently certain victory for a draw, 1-4 to 0-7.
With Donal Scannell and JJ O’Mahony controlling centre field and Frank Morrissey dominant at centre back, Carrig had poured forward in the opening twenty five minutes and were rewarded with points by Kieran Horgan, O‘Mahony, Paul O’Brien and David O’Sullivan. They also kicked seven wides but with Youghal so toothless in attack it didn’t seem to matter.
Youghal improved on either side of the break, but, going into the last quarter, points by Seanie Cashman, Scannell and O‘Sullivan put Carrig 0-7 to 0-1 ahead and seemingly coasting. But five minutes from the end Youghal got a point, two minutes later they got a goal, on the call of full time they pointed a free and straight from the kick out raided again to kick the equalising point. Extraordinary.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, John Ring, Pat Kavanagh, Liam Manning, John Horgan, Frank Morrissey, Noel Kidney, Donal Scannell 0-1, JJ O’Mahony 0-1, Philip Kidney, Paul O’Brien 0-1, Seanie Cashman 0-1, David O’Sullivan 0-2, Tony O’Flynn, Kieran Horgan 0-1.
Sub: Dermot Cashman for Tony O’Flynn.
With Youghal’s Mattie McCarthy on the Cork senior football panel, the replay didn’t take place until after the All Ireland final in the autumn. This time it was a much different affair. “Donal Scannell was on holiday in Spain,” says Power, “and we tried to get him an early ﬂight home, but it didn’t work out. When we were missing Donal at midﬁeld we were in trouble.”
McCarthy was outstanding for Youghal and in the second half of an occasionally spiteful match they had too much in attack. A couple of excellent saves from Ned Dunlea kept Carrig in the game in the ﬁrst half, and, with Denis Dennehy winning and converting a penalty, Carrig even had their noses in front at the break, 1-2 to 0-4. Youghal, though, took the lead seven minutes into the second half, and while Carrig rallied again, Youghal ﬁnished much the stronger with a goal eight minutes from the end sealing their victory, 1-8 to 1-4.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, John Ring, Denis O’Mahony, Pat Kavanagh, Noel Kidney, John Horgan, Frank Morrissey, JJ O’Mahony, Terence O’Brien, Seanie Cashman, Philip Kidney, Jim O’Connor, Kieran Horgan, David O’Sullivan, Denis Dennehy.
Sub: Dermot Cashman for Terence O’Brien (injured).
The U-21 footballers went out in the first round of the A championship against Midleton, 1-10 to 0-6. Carrig were forced to start without the injured Philip Kidney, and, even though they pressed hard in the second half with Kidney coming on to score three points, they didn’t get close. Midleton played with the breeze in the first half and were never headed. They led by ﬁve points at the break, 1-5 to 0-3, and contained Carrig comfortably in the second half.
Carrig: Denis Dennehy, Pat Horgan, Paul Keegan, Denis Sheehan, Robert Kidney, Barry McGrath, Patrick O‘Sullivan, Paul O’Brien, Jim O’Connor, Denis Walsh 0-1, Gerard Barry, John ‘Junior’ Buckley, Eoin Leahy, Tony O’Flynn 0-1, John Ronan 0-1.
Sub: Philip Kidney 0-3 for Buckley.
The U-21 hurlers played in the B championship but still went out in the ﬁrst round after a replay against Castlelyons. Reduced to 14 men with 20 minutes of the drawn match left, Carrig did exceptionally well to hang on. Three minutes from the end Castlelyons scored what seemed like the winning goal, but John ‘Junior’ Buckley forced a replay for Carrig with a goal in the dying seconds of the match. Christopher Roche gathered the ball on the left and burst goalwards before crossing to Buckley who batted in from the edge of the square to make it 2-13 to 4-7.
Carrig had led by a point at half time, 1-7 to 2-3, with Gerard Barry and Jim O’Connor leading the attack brilliantly. To Carrig‘s credit they didn’t capitulate when centre back Philip Kidney was sent off and in the remaining 20 minutes they were only outscored by a point, 1-4 to 1-3. In the replay, however, Kidney’s absence was more keenly felt and Castlelyons won easily.
Carrig (first game): Brian Murphy, Pat Horgan, Paul Keegan, David Warren, Tony O’Flynn, Philip Kidney 0-1, John Ronan, Barry McGrath, Robert Kidney, Paul O‘Brien, Jim O’Connor 0-4, Gerard Barry 1-6, Kenneth Kidney, Christopher Roche 0-2,
Sub: John Junior Buckley 1-0 for Denis Dennehy.
The only underage success of 1987 belonged to the U-16 B footballers. They cruised through East Cork with easy victories over Bride Rovers and St Johns, before dismissing Ballinacurra in the ﬁnal, 1-7 to 0-0. However they met Beara in the ﬁrst round of the county and took a hiding.
The Cork Convention at the end of 1987 witnessed the realisation of Denis Conroy’s dream. Forty-eight years after he first presented himself for election at the county board he achieved the office of chairman. He was 76 years old when the honour fell to him and had suffered a stroke that autumn but Conroy stood his ground against infirmity, as he did against everything else.
In his oration at Conroy’s graveside in March of 1993, Frank Murphy recalled Conroy’s physical condition and fortitude of mind. “As he lay ill in hospital,” said Murphy, “barely able to speak and incapacitated, I had the function of asking him whether he would be contesting the election he had been nominated for. I had difficulty in hearing his words but they were; ‘All guns ﬁring.‘ Two months later he was elected chairman.”
During Conroy’s three years as chairman Cork won seven All Ireland titles but the double of 1990 conferred a unique distinction on him. Cork had won the double in 1890 and Tipperary had achieved it ten years later, but neither double had been done in the same calendar year and neither had been done under the same chairman. The distinction was not lost on Conroy: “They tried to do it for 100 years,” he was fond of saying, “and failed. Conroy did it in two weeks.”
It had been the culmination of the fullest GAA life imaginable. He was a hurler ﬁrst, a referee and selector next, an administrator and devotee always
In St Colman’s College Fermoy, he captained the Dr Harty Cup team and went on to play Fitzgibbon Cup for UCC. He also played in the senior championship for UCC in the days when students were bound to play for the college. He scored two goals on his senior championship debut for Carrig in 1937 and later that summer his goal was Carrig’s only score in the county ﬁnal against Glen Rovers.
Conroy lined out for the last time in the early 1950s but administration was his metier. It was an impulse from childhood. In an interview with the Imokilly People in 1990 Conroy recalled doing the registration for teams in Carrig national school while he was still a pupil.
Conroy lost many elections at Cork conventions but he was never deﬂected from his vocation and pressed on with remarkable stamina. At home he was secretary and treasurer, and in 1949 he was elected secretary of the East Cork Board, but already he was looking to spread his wings.
It was a marathon ﬂight. He was Munster Council representative for 25 years and a Central Council delegate, was a member of GPC and a Congress delegate, did a stint as county board registrar and was made a vice-chairman of the board two years before he became chairman. At his death he was vice-president – stuck in it to the last.
Conroy was born on Chapel Lane in 1912. His father, William ‘Boss’ Conroy, owned a pub and immersed himself in the running of the club in the way his son would later. According to Conroy’s prodigious memory he was taken as a six year old to the county ﬁnal which Carrig won in 1918: “I got lost that day,“ he said in an interview with Donnacha O’Dualing in 1977, “and they’re regretting it still that I was found.”
He also recalled the ﬁrst round of the 1919 Munster championship between Cork and Waterford, when Cork ﬁelded eight Carrig players. He attended his ﬁrst All Ireland ﬁnal in 1926 and in the Imokilly People interview, 64 years later, some of the details were still lucid in his mind.
“We travelled by train,” he said. “We got the Youghal train at Carrigtwohill and travelled to Cork. The ticket cost 2/ 6d for the return journey. We had mass in the parish priest’s house and a slice of bread after mass before catching the train. That is how we travelled. On that day about 40 people travelled from Carrig.”
During his time as county board chairman Conroy was extremely diplomatic in his attitude to football, but it was no secret that hurling was his passion. “Your first love is what you get when you are young,” he said. “The first toy I ever got was a hurley and ball. Since my childhood I am deeply indebted to hurling for everything. I think hurling is a great game. I think it brings out all the ‘man’ that is required in every youngster.”
Conroy went through his share of scrapes. In 1945 he was handed a two year suspension by the county board for providing Tallow with six illegal players for a Waterford championship match against Dungarvan. Three of them were from Carrig: Mattie Fouhy, Willie John Daly and Sean Twomey. “We only wanted class,” said Conroy later. The players all got a year’s suspension and Fouhy, who was already on the Cork senior panel, missed out on an All Ireland medal in 1946.
The irony was that three years later Conroy stopped at nothing to track down the illegal players Doneraile had ﬁelded against Carrig in the semi-final of the junior county championship. His investigation took him to Wexford and Kilkenny, and later to the Munster Council before Carrig were awarded the match. Poacher or gamekeeper, Conroy could turn his hand to anything.
Oratory was another of his gifts. At Congress his performances lifted the tedium, in Carrig dressing rooms his words lit the blue touch paper. “We’ve brought two tons of ash up here today,” he once said, “and we’re going home with kindling.”
And underpinning it all was a rapier wit. In Donnacha O‘Dualing‘s tribute programme to Conroy after his death, John Fenton told a story of an exchange in the Cork dug-out during the 1986 All Ireland hurling ﬁnal. Conroy, as ever, was being free with his advice and, unable to take any more, one of the Cork selectors asked him to shut up. “If I knew as little about hurling as you” said Conroy in reply, “I’d never open my mouth.”
On the night his remains were removed ﬁve GAA presidents were among those who shouldered his coffin. As a mark of his life he was buried as a statesman of the association a few hundred yards from where he was born.
In 1988 Cloyne was once again the scene of Carrig’s exit from the junior A hurling championship and Aghada were once again their conquerors. This time only a point separated the sides, 0-14 to 0-13, and Carrig had only themselves to blame. According to the Southern Star, “they fouled needlessly and spurned a surfeit of chances…They dominated the ﬁrst half to an alarming degree and yet led by only one point at half time, 0-7 to 0-6, having hit nine wides.”
“In the second half they enjoyed a lesser advantage, but an advantage nonetheless, one more than sufficient on which to base a win, but only scored six points. They presented Donie Morrissey, arguably the best free taker in East Cork junior hurling, with six frees in scoreable positions, and only one of these tested his ability. Morrissey scored all six. Carrig deserved no sympathy.”
“The last ten minutes were packed with drama. The excellent JJ Barry saved a penalty from Morrissey with nine minutes to go only for Carrig to have a penalty of their own by Philip Kidney blocked four minutes later when the sides were level. In the last minute of normal time Kieran Horgan sliced through the Aghada defence but his hand passed effort at goal was saved and the resultant 65 went narrowly wide. Three minutes into injury time John Joe Harte was told he had to score directly from a sideline cut. John Horgan fielded the ball and drove it over the bar, but it was too late.”
Carrig: JJ Barry, Pat Horgan, Sean Kennedy, Anthony Barry, Davy Barry, John Horgan 0-1, Denis O’Mahony, Billy Dineen, John Joe Harte, Gerard Barry, Jim O’Connor 0-4, Philip Kidney 0-3, Seanie Cashman 0-3 Christy Roche 0-2, Kieran Horgan.
The junior B hurlers went out in the first round too, relinquishing their title tamely to Cloyne, 3-15 to 2-5. Carrig were deprived of four first choice players through injury and suspension but it would have made little difference to the result. “Cloyne did not only beat Carrigtwohill,” reported the Southern Star, “they mastered them in every aspect of the game, in every area.”
Carrig did lead early on with a goal from Liam Manning, but by half time they were two points behind, 0-8 to 1- 3. A goal by Pat O’Connor and a point by Robert Kidney early in the second half seemed to suggest a comeback by Carrig, but they couldn’t sustain it. Eddie O’Riordan, Carrig‘s best player, added another point, his third and Carrig’s last.
Carrig scorers: Eddie O’Riordan 0-3, Liam Manning 1-0, Pat O’Connor 1-0, Robert Kidney 0-2.
The junior A footballers continued to improve, although it wasn’t obvious from their ﬁrst round game against Glanmire. A poor match ended 0-4 apiece, Carrig levelling the match with three points in the last six minutes. Jim O’Connor, switched into full forward, kicked the last two scores, David O‘Sullivan got the other.
A point from a free by Con O’Mahony was Carrig’s only ﬁrst half score, despite missing a succession of chances in the first ten minutes. Philip Kidney had a shot for goal cannon off the crossbar, but in the second half Carrig were indebted to Ned Dunlea for a couple of brilliant saves.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, Liam Manning, John Horgan, Anthony Barry, Paul Keegan, John Ring, Terence O’Brien, Jim O’Connor, Kieran Horgan, Con O‘Mahony,Seanie Cashman, Gerard Barry, David O‘Sullivan, Frank Morrissey, Philip Kidney.
Subs: Paul O’Brien for Morrissey, Robert Kidney for Ring.
The replay was an open, free ﬂowing, high scoring match which Carrig won with style, 1-13 to 1-4. “It was the ﬁrst time I saw a Carrig forward line in football moving with cohesion,” says Niall Barrett.
Carrig led by 0-7 to O-2 at half time with Gerard Barry kicking three marvelous points and Jim O’Connor and Kieran Horgan gradually getting the upper hand at centre ﬁeld. John Horgan, Liam Manning, Anthony Barry and Noel Kidney buttressed the defence and though Glanmire scrambled a goal mid-way through the second half to reduce the margin to four points, Carrig were never really in trouble. A couple of minutes from the end Con O’Mahony coolly slotted a penalty to the net and the game was over.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, Liam Manning, John Horgan, Anthony Barry, John Ring, Terence O’Brien, Noel Kidney, Jim O’Connor 0-1, Kieran Horgan, Con O’Mahony 1-4, Gerard Barry 0-3, Seanie Cashman, David O’Sullivan, Paul O’Brien 0-1, Philip Kidney 0-4.
Sub: Frank Morrissey for David O’Sullivan
The next round against Cobh was played in a gale at Caherlag. Carrig won the toss and elected to play against the wind in the ﬁrst half, but by the break they were 0-9 to 0-0 behind and the game was effectively over.
“It is doubtful if this Carrig side at their best would have lived with Cobh,” reported the Southern Star, “Carrig, though, were not at their best and try manfully as they did they were outclassed. Cobh had the physical strength to win and retain possession and they used it to good effect.”
“Cobh even stretched their lead early in the second half before Philip Kidney struck for Carrig’s ﬁrst goal. When Jim O’Connor ﬁsted Carrig‘s second goal to make it 0-12 to 2-1 there was a slim ray of hope but Cobh tacked on another couple of points and Carrig were not creating enough chances to seriously threaten Cobh’s lead. In the end the margin was ﬁve points, 0-14 to 2-3.”
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, Liam Manning, John Horgan, Anthony Barry, John Ring, Terence O’Brien, Noel Kidney, Jim O’Connor, Kieran Horgan, Con O’Mahony, Ger Barry, Seanie Cashman, David O’Sullivan, Paul O’Brien, Philip Kidney.
Sub; Frank Morrissey for Kieran Horgan (injured).
It was nonetheless a significant year for football in the club. The U-14s won an East Cork A championship for the first time, with victories over Midleton, Glanmire and Youghal before losing to Bantry in the county championship. Then the U-21 B footballers picked up the baton. They needed a replay to overcome Fr O’Neills in the first round, but the key match of the campaign was the quarter ﬁnal against Aghada. Carrig’s record in football against Aghada had not been good in the 1980s but on a miserable night in Cloyne they prevailed narrowly.
Russell Rovers were brushed aside in the semi-ﬁnal and Carrig entered the ﬁnal against Killeagh as favourites. It was a tight match for a long time and Carrig never played as well as they had against Aghada but the only goal of the match in the second half gave Carrig some breathing space. In his sixth season as an U-21 footballer Terence O’Brien lifted the cup.
Carrig: Mossy O’Hanlon, Christopher Roche, Pat Horgan, John Ronan, Robert Kidney Terence O’Brien, Niall Walsh, Tony O’Flynn, Gerard Barry, Donie Mulcahy, Jim O’Connor, Denis Walsh, Denis Dennehy, Philip Kidney, Eoin Leahy.
Subs used: Patrick O’Sullivan and John ‘Junior’ Buckley.
The U-21 hurlers reached the B ﬁnal as well, but were well beaten by Sarsﬁelds, 1-10 to 1-4. “Carrig played well below their potential,” reported the Southern Star, “and only half back Robert Kidney was truly outstanding, though JJ Barry, John Ronan and David Warren were also solid in defence. In attack only occasional threats from Kenneth Kidney, who scored an early goal, and John ‘Junior’ Buckley put Sars under any pressure.”
That early goal put Carrig 1-2 to 0-2 ahead after eight minutes, but they failed to score again in the first half. With David Walsh landing six frees and Niall Ahern finding the net ﬁfteen minutes from the end Sars cruised to victory. A year later six of that Sars team played in the senior county final.
Carrig: JJ Barry, John Ronan, Pat Horgan, David Warren, Tony O’Flynn, Philip Kidney, Robert Kidney, Gerard Barry, Eddie O‘Riordan 0-1, John ‘Junior’ Buckley, Jim O’Connor 0-2, Brian Nolan, Paul McMahon, Christy Roche, Kenneth Kidney 1-1.
Subs: Terence O’Brien for Nolan; Billy O’Flynn for McMahon; Niall Walsh for O’Flynn
It had not been a good decade for underage hurling in the club but in 1988 the U-16s made their mark. They breezed through East Cork and crushed Watergrasshill in the B final, 3-16 to 1-2. Ballinhassig and Banteer were their next victims before they accounted for Barryroe in the country county final, 5-8 to 2-8; of Carrig’s total Eoin O‘Mahony contributed 5-4.
The county final against Brian Dillon’s was a fierce and dramatic match. Carrig trailed by 2-3 to 0-1 after 21 minutes, but remarkably the city team were held scoreless for the next 38 minutes and Carrig recovered to lead by 2-4 to 2-3 with four minutes remaining. Goals from John O’Connor and Kevin O‘Driscoll fuelled Carrig‘s comeback and JJ Barry’s second point of the match put Carrig ahead.
Brian Dillons, however, gathered themselves and future rugby international David Corkery brought the sides level with a free from 50 yards out. A couple of minutes later they thought they had won the match when Alan Whelan‘s shot sailed close to the post. The referee and umpires consulted and agreed it was wide but Carrig supporters behind the town goal in Cobh swore quietly that the ball was over.
The replay didn’t take place until early in 1989 and that day injury deprived Brian Dillons of the already massive Corkery. Carrig were never comfortable but once they took the lead mid-way through the ﬁrst half they were never headed. A late Brian Dillon’s goal created a hectic ﬁnish, but Carrig held on to win, 4-4 to 2-7, with goals from Eoin O’Mahony, John O’Connor, Troy Cuddigan and JJ Barry.
Carrig: Sean Barry, Pat O’Brien, Martin O‘Riordan, Pat Doyle, Paul Naughton, Michael Barry(c), Sean Barrett, JJ Barry, Paul Nolan, Noel Gubbins, John O’Connor, Martin Horgan, Troy Cuddigan, Kevin O’Driscoll, Eoin O’Mahony.
Sub used: Timmy Lonergan.
Because Carrig had not won the East Cork U-14 B championship in 1987 they were allowed to remain B grade at U-16 in 1989. Carrig lost ﬁve of the previous year’s team and dug deep into their resources to pluck Seanie O‘Farrell from the U-12s to play in goal, but for the second year in a row they were too good for any team in the county.
They beat Sars, 6-7 to 3-4, to reach the East Cork ﬁnal where Killeagh were tough opponents. Carrig played with the wind in the ﬁrst half and led by 2-7 to 1-3 at the break, but Killeagh thundered into the match in the second half, and Carrig were hanging on to win by two points at the ﬁnish, 4-8 to 2-12.
Ballygiblin didn’t capitulate either in the country county final. With six minutes remaining Ballygiblin’s second goal left just a point between the teams, but Carrig replied instantly. Martin Horgan found the net, Eoin O‘Mahony added two points and Carrig were through,1-9 to 2-2. In the county ﬁnal, however, the Barrs second team was outclassed. After 12 minutes Carrig were 1-6 to 0-1 ahead and their rate of scoring hardly slowed before the ﬁnish. In the end it was 4-13 to 2-3.
Carrig: Seanie O‘Farrell, James Seymour, Sean Barry, Michael Browne, Justin Donnelly, Pat Doyle, Seamus Collins, Paul Nolan 0-1, Noel Gubbins 0-1, John O’Connor 0-5, Martin Horgan, Eoin O’Mahony 2-4, Kevin O‘Driscoll 1-1, Troy Cuddigan, Ryan O‘Sullivan.
That year Carrig got back to the final of the U-21 B hurling championship and this time they won it. It was a strange campaign. Fr O’Neills and Carrignavar both gave walkovers in the first two rounds so their meeting with Watergrasshill was a semi-ﬁnal.
Carrig played badly in the drawn match in Riverstown, squandering a raft of chances in the first half to trail by a goal at the break, 1-2 to 0-2. Watergrasshill had a man sent off early in the second half, but Carrig went 17 minutes without a score and looked like losing until 17 year old Sean Barrett came off the bench to draw the match with an injury time goal, 1-5 to 2-2.
The replay turned out to be a desperate scramble too. Carrig were five points down when they were reduced to 14 men in the last quarter, but remarkably came back to force extra time. Carrig grasped their reprieve with both hands and in the next thirty minutes swept Watergrasshill off their feet to win by ﬁve goals.
Cobh were Carrig’s opponents in the club’s fifth U-21 hurling final. All of the other four had been lost – two in each grade – but there was no mistake this time. They started slowly enough and with the wind at their backs only led by two points at half time, 0-4 to 0-2. Seven minutes into the second half, however, Jim O’Connor electrified the match. Leaping to catch the ball just inside the Cobh half he strided 60 yards before crashing into the top corner of the net off his left hand.
Mossie O’Hanlon pointed immediately afterwards and with Christopher Roche, John Ronan and Paul Keegan excelling in defence and Michael Barry playing really well at centre ﬁeld Carrig never looked back. Sean Barrett got Carrig’s second goal and O’Connor continued to pick off points, ﬁnishing with a match-winning tally of 1-7, 1-4 of which had come from play. At the ﬁnish Carrig were decisive winners, 2-8 to 1-3.
Carrig: JJ Barry, Pat Horgan, Christopher Roche, John Ronan, Paul Keegan, Gerard Barry, Robert Kidney, Michael Barry, Eddie O’Riordan, Brian Nolan, Niall Walsh, Jim O’Connor 1-7, Sean Barrett 1-0, Tony O’Flynn, Mossie O‘Hanlon 0-1.
Subs: Denis Walsh for Nolan; Patrick O’Sullivan for Horgan (injured).
Other subs: Brian Murphy, Martin O’Riordan, Eoin O’Mahony.
It was another year of bitter disappointment, however, for the junior A hurlers. They beat Castlelyons by seven points in the ﬁrst round and overcame Dungourney comfortably in the next round, 1-12 to 0-7. But Aghada were too strong in the semi-ﬁnal even though a last minute goal by Carrig cut the deﬁcit from five points to two.
The U-21 footballers went out in the ﬁrst round of the A championship to Erin’s Own by three points, but the minors reached the East Cork B ﬁnal where they lost narrowly to Killeagh. The junior B footballers went out in the ﬁrst round to Aghada after a replay. The East Cork Board ﬁxed the replay for the night before Carrig were due to play A championship, effectively robbing Carrig of the opportunity to play the A subs.
For the junior A footballers, though, 1989 turned out to be a momentous year. Russell Rovers were Carrig‘s victims in the ﬁrst round, 1-11 to 1-6, after Carrig had unexpectedly struggled for much of the game. They went in as underdogs against Youghal in the next round, but conclusively avenged the defeat of two years previously, 2-7 to 0-6.
Carrig met Killeagh in the semi-ﬁnal at Castlemartyr and, just as in the Russell Rovers game, laboured badly for much of the first half to trail by a point at the break, 0-4 to 0-3. The second half though was significantly better, reported the Imokilly People.
“Carrig learned from their ﬁrst half mistakes and elected to play the old style catch and kick game. They introduced Donal Scannell and this seemed to strengthen the side. Carrig‘s captain Ned Dunlea also made a ﬁne save mid-way through the half and his side seemed to gain in conﬁdence thereafter.
“While there were several contenders for man of the match, with Sean Cashman working hard at half back, Tony O’Flynn and Gerard Barry doing great work at centre ﬁeld and Kieran Horgan and Jim O’Connor doing very well in the forward line, I eventually gave my award to John Horgan, the Carrig fullback. His high ﬁelding was a pleasure to watch and his long clearances took the pressure off his fellow backs.” In the end it was 0-10 to 0-5.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, Pat Horgan, John Horgan, Anthony Barry, Seanie Cashman, Peter Hogan, Terence O’Brien, Tony O’Flynn, Gerard Barry, Kieran Horgan, David O’Sullivan, Jim O’Connor, Con O‘Mahony, Philip Kidney, Liam Manning.
Aghada were Carrig’s opponents in the club’s ﬁrst East Cork junior A football ﬁnal. The match was played in Cobh on a Saturday night in the middle of August and it so nearly produced an unlikely victory: “Aghada, so often the Imokilly kingpins, are the champions again,” reported the Examiner. “But spare a thought for gallant Carrigtwohill for they battled heroically before eventually biting the dust in a contest that exploded into life in the second half.”
“In the final analysis a goal from Aghada’s right half forward Richie Lewis in the 25th minute decided the outcome, but they were stretched for long periods of the second half when most in the good sized crowd expected them to dominate when playing with the breeze.”
“Carrig really came of age in this game and in Jim O’Connor they had the star of the show. When he moved to midﬁeld early in the ﬁrst half a new urgency came into their play and, with a little luck it could have been their night, for an excellent defence easily coped with everything Aghada threw at them. However, they were found wanting up front and eventually paid the full price.”
Carrig started strongly and were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after 24 minutes with points from Con O’Mahony, Philip Kidney, O’Connor and Tony O’Flynn. Aghada’s goal, though, came a minute later and the scores were level. Kidney hit the crossbar just before half time but 0-4 to 1-1 was how it stayed.
“Aghada stormed into action in the second half,” reported the Examiner, “but they were unable to make any real headway despite now playing with the breeze. As in the ﬁrst half they were always willing to play football but they were unable to penetrate a tough tackling Carrig defence. Billy Ahern stretched their lead to three points in the 40th minute but it was to be their last score.”
“Now Carrig came back at them in an all out effort to save the game. First Kieran Horgan pointed, then the immaculate O’Connor did likewise and entering the ﬁnal quarter just a point separated the sides. In a nail biting ﬁnish O‘Mahony, Horgan and Kidney all had chances to tie up the scores, but it was not to be and Aghada held on for a victory (1-4 to 0-6) that was very hard earned indeed.”
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, Pat Horgan, John Horgan, Anthony Barry, Seanie Cashman, Peter Hogan, Terence O’Brien, Tony O’Flynn 0-1, Donal Scannell, Jim O’Connor 0-2, Kieran Horgan 0-1, John Ronan, Con O’Mahony 0-1, Philip Kidney 0-1, Liam Manning.
Sub: David O’Sullivan for Ronan.
Two months later Carrig reversed the result in the semi-ﬁnal of the league, 1-7 to 0-5. Aghada were preparing for the county ﬁnal a week later and put out a full strength team which only added kudos to Carrig‘s win. The ﬁnal against Cobh three weeks later ended in a draw after a thrilling match, 2-9 to 3-6.
“In the previous year Cobh had gone nine points up against us in the championship,” remembers Niall Barrett, “and in the league final we went down by three goals very early on but the heads never went down and we chased after them.”
Carrig’s equaliser came with a brilliant free kick from Philip Kidney, right up against the sideline. A week later in the replay Carrig made profit from their escape. Having dominated the first half it took a goal from Jim O’Connor just before the break to give Carrig some breathing space, 1-3 to 0-2.
With ten minutes left and Carrig clinging to a goal lead O’Connor took the game by the scruff of the neck again. Picking up possession on his own 45 he soloed to the Cobh 45 before landing a huge point. It was the final score of the game and by 1-7 to 0-6 Carrig had taken the junior A league title for the ﬁrst time in the club’s history. In a decade of massive progression for football in Carrig a ﬂag had been planted at another summit.
Carrig: Ned Dunlea, Pat Horgan, Peter Hogan, Anthony Barry, Seanie Cashman, Paul Keegan, Terence O’Brien, Tony O’Flynn 0-1, Donal Scannell, Gerard Barry 0-1, Jim O’Connor 1-2, Robert Kidney, Kieran Horgan, Liam Manning, Philip Kidney 0-3.
Subs used: John Ronan and Billy Dineen.
Other subs: John Horgan (injured), Patrick O’Sullivan, Niall Walsh, Mossy O’Hanlon, Con O’Mahony.