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St Finbarr's full-forward #17 Trevor Olden makes an excellent catch in front of the Glen Rovers goal before forcing a great save from Cathal Hickey in 2010. Picture: Larry Cummins
St Finbarr's full-forward #17 Trevor Olden makes an excellent catch in front of the Glen Rovers goal before forcing a great save from Cathal Hickey in 2010. Picture: Larry Cummins
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The Glen versus the Barrs: a great choice for a live club hurling cracker

IT came as no surprise when it was announced that RTÉ Sport had chosen the meeting of Glen Rovers and the Barrs as one of its opening matches in their coverage of club championship games over the next few months.

It’s an honour in itself that this game was chosen, the age-old rivalry between the two clubs gives it a nationwide appeal.

It’s a rivalry, one of many in the city and county, that gives the Cork County SHC an appeal and aura all of its own.

It used to be one known as Cork’s Little All-Ireland but maybe that status has diminished somewhat in the more modern era.

The Glen and the Barrs is a Northside-Southside battle, two sides from opposite sides of the river that have accumulated 52 titles between them.

Blackpool and Togher might be separated by a few miles but it’s a Cork derby game in the best possible sense.

The Glen and Blackrock would have the same status of appeal, the Glen and Na Piarsaigh too where the Northside bragging rights are immense.

In fact, throughout the county, it’s these type of local rivalries that make this championship.

There is just one SHC game pencilled in for Páirc Uí Chaoimh on the opening two weekends of the championship in both codes.

And it’s only right and fitting that headquarters houses this game because down through the corridors of time it’s down there on the banks of the Lee that these two have fought out many thrilling battles, firstly in the old Athletic Grounds which was followed up by the opening of the Páirc back in 1976.

Now it’s a brand new stadium again but the location stays the same.

Some of the greatest players that Cork hurling has ever produced have graced the old ground in the colours of the great rivals.

And it remains a fierce rivalry even if both clubs don’t dominate now like they once used to.

Bishop Michael Murphy throws in the ball to start the 1977 Glen versus Barrs county final at a packed Páirc Uí Chaoimh. 
Bishop Michael Murphy throws in the ball to start the 1977 Glen versus Barrs county final at a packed Páirc Uí Chaoimh. 

Back in the day whether it was a challenge, league or championship encounter, the Glen and the Barrs had some ferocious battles.

Even when they met in the Eucharistic matches in the Mardyke no quarter was asked or given and in fact, two players, one from each side, missed a Cork Munster championship match in 1967 because they got sent off in one of those matches.

Both clubs have had long periods in the wilderness and the Barrs are currently in the midst of one, not having won the title since 1993.

The Glen went from 1989 to 2015 without a title but they are now back among the leading contenders again and that in itself is good for Cork hurling in general.

The Barrs have made strides in recent years but it remains to be seen if they are ready to bridge the long gap.

We’ll know a lot more about their chances after their August weekend battle with their great Northside rivals.

 Glen Rovers' Dean Brosnan gets away from St Finbarr's Damien Cahalane, during the 2017 Cork SHC clash at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: David Keane.

Glen Rovers' Dean Brosnan gets away from St Finbarr's Damien Cahalane, during the 2017 Cork SHC clash at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: David Keane.

We still don’t know how many supporters will be catered for in the game because of the Covid restrictions but the fact that the game will be going out live will help alleviate the situation.

The Glen and the Barrs is one of a number of big derby games in what you’d term Project Restart.

In East Cork, the collision of Sarsfields and Midleton is sure to generate huge interest too in a group that’s going to see one big-name eliminated at the group stage.

Sars have not forgotten their final meeting of 2013 when Conor Lehane almost single-handedly put them to the sword with a return of 2-10.

The County Board certainly came up with the goods in both grades of the SHC as far as local derby games go.

Take North Cork where you have Mallow, Fermoy, Charleville all in the one group with Bandon thrown in for good measure.

Now, it would take the wisdom of Solomon to try and predict what two will emerge here.

Mallow against Charleville has huge potential, Fermoy against Mallow and Charleville against Fermoy will have Avondhu fans thirsting for action when everything gets underway.

There’s going to be huge interest too in the East Cork meeting of newcomers Bride Rovers against seasoned Bride Rovers.

Yes, in every direction there is so much of a local derby dimension but surely none more so than the face-off between the Glen and the Barrs.

The Glen versus the Barrs in 1935. 
The Glen versus the Barrs in 1935. 

Think of all those great club players from both clubs who carried so much on their backs from long ago.

Think of going to work on a Monday morning in Fords and Dunlop after one of their games and the bragging rights that had been secured by one or the other.

If your team lost one of those games you might be very much tempted to phone in sick on that Monday morning.

You don’t have the thousands who thronged the old ground long ago when it was common for 30, 000 to be crammed in.

But when it’s the Glen and the Barrs, just like it was in the past, the appeal never fades.

There are so many games pencilled in for that particular weekend but this one stands out for this observer.