Classic Cork hurling finals: Glen and the Barrs packed the Páirc in 1977

Classic Cork hurling finals: Glen and the Barrs packed the Páirc in 1977

The 1977 Cork senior hurling final between St Finbarrs and Glen Rovers had an attendance of over 33,000. Here Christy Ryan clashes with Glen men Teddy O’Brien and Martin O’Doherty.

WHEN the Barrs and the Glen collided in the Cork County hurling final of 1977, Páirc Uí Chaoimh housed 33,000 souls.

It was the year after the stadium had been developed into one of the most modern in Europe at the time.

Next Saturday night, in a game that is live on RTE, the two great rivals from either side of the Lee will be back in the ground again but this time the players will be playing in a near-empty stadium.

In fact, it will be a unique experience in so far as a challenge game between the two would generate five or six times the number that will be present this time.

But that’s the way it is now because of the restrictions in place because of Covid-19 and it remains to be seen how it will all pan out.

The TV cameras will be present to alleviate the pain of not being present for the supporters but it will be different.

The rivalry between the two old clubs is legendary, between them they have won the title 52 times.

So many great players in Cork’s hurling history have featured in their games down through the corridors of time, one of them the ‘Barrs Tony Maher and he has great memories of their duels.

“First of all, the thing that I would say is despite the rivalry that has always been there, the respect between ourselves and the Glen has been the same, fierce foes on the field but there was always a great aul camaraderie off it.

“We were both hugely motivated when we met, the bragging rights were so important. Even throughout the city in workplaces like Fords and Dunlops and other great Cork institutions supporters just wanted their team to win.

“Going to work on a Monday morning if you lost was not a nice experience.”

Maher remembers his first senior championship match against the men from Blackpool.

“I do indeed, it was the first round of the championship in 1965. The Glen had given the Barrs a fair beating the year before in the final and I suppose they were hot favourites again.

“But we had a lot of new, young players in our team, players like Charlie and Gerald McCarthy, Con Roche and others and we beat them.

“I suppose the first round is different and we caught them that day.

“We won the county that year so it was a great season for everybody in Togher.

“There used to be huge crowds at the games back then, in 1977 you had 33,000 plus in the stadium and in that final we won again.

“We used to meet too in the famous Eucharistic matches up the Dyke and they were games that were played at championship level.

“When you met the Glen you just wanted to win, it was the same for them against us.”

St Finbarrs captain Denis Burns holds the cup after beating the Glen in the 1977 final.
St Finbarrs captain Denis Burns holds the cup after beating the Glen in the 1977 final.

Maher was a teak-tough defender and in those games against the Glen he faced some great players.

“Yes indeed, the Glen always had good hurlers. I would have come up against Liam McAuliffe, Patsy Harte, Jerry Sullivan, Denis Riordan, great players, some great Cork players too.

“The atmosphere used to be electric, great days, great memories and great friendships formed too.

And the former great is hoping that the pendulum will swing in the Barrs way this time.

“Yes, over the past number of years the Glen have held the upper hand, won the title a few times and deservedly so too.

“We have been without one for a long time now but you’d like to believe that we are getting closer.

“Aidan Fitzpatrick is in charge of the team now, Eamon’s son he was a great player for us and I believe he’ll get the most out of the team.

“It’s going to be a different occasion this time, hardly no supporters present but at the end of the day, it’s the Glen and the Barrs.

“It’s a tough group to be in with Na Piarsaigh there too and Carrigtwohill so the first game in group will be crucial.

“But we’ll be hoping. It won’t be easy but it never is when you are playing the Glen.”

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