WITH 52 titles between them, Glen Rovers and St Finbarr’s have produced some of the finest hurlers of all time on Leeside.
Some of the county’s most decorated players have worn the colours of the great rivals, dating back to 1899 when the Barrs first claimed the title.
The Glen’s first title did not arrive until 1934 but they quickly made up ground on their great rivals and the Rockies too who are their other great city rivals.
The Glen won eight titles on the trot in the years between 1934 and 1941.
The Barrs won three-in-row on a few occasions and on the 52 occasions that they have lifted the old trophy, the old foes have faced each other many times on the final day.
In these pages yesterday we spoke to Barrs great, Tony Maher as he reflected on the great rivalry down the years.
Here, it’s the turn of former Glen Rovers great Denis Coughlan who also has the distinction of being very successful with the Glen’s sister club, St Nick’s.
He told the Echo that he has fond memories of his jousts with the Barrs and the legendary rivalry that exists between both clubs who come face to face again next Saturday night at headquarters in the opening game of this delayed season’s championship.
“Yes, there’s no denying the rivalry is there, always has been. Growing up in Blackpool we were led to believe that people from the Southside of the city were different.
“That’s not the case, of course, but the Barrs and the Glen were arch foes and that went back long before I started in a Glen jersey.
“We obviously had plenty of championship meetings and then there was those famous Eucharistic matches down the Mardyke.
“It was funny in many ways, in the afternoon we’d march in the procession together through the streets, pray together and then go up the Dyke and knock lumps off each other.
“There used a be a great atmosphere at those games, huge crowds and, by God, you had to earn your spurs in those games.
“In fact, you were found out on that Sunday night, if you could not cut it in that game the chances are you would not do it at championship level.”
The former dual star, one of the most decorated and respected people in the game goes back to the ‘60s for his earliest memories.
“We played them in the 1964 final and we beat them. I think Christy Ring scored a vital goal for us in that game.
“Then they got revenge on us in our first round meeting a year later when they had young players like Gerald and Charlie McCarthy emerging.
“We met them too in the county football final in 1965 and 1966 and St Nick’s won on both days.
“We also beat them in the 1967 hurling final so we had great dual success over them back then.
“I suppose both clubs dominated at different times down the years, we had our periods of dominance and they had theirs.
He recalls too the great players who faced each other during his playing days.
“Yes, there were so many. You had Denis Murphy for the Barrs, a great corner-back, Mick Archer at full-forward, Charlie Cullinane, Con Roche, Gerald, Charlie and so many more.
“We had our stars too. We had a full-back line made up of Denis Riordan, Mick Lane and Maurice Twomey.
“They’d have been known as the equivalent of Tipp’s Hell Kitchen of Kieran Carey, Mick Maher and John Doyle.
“Finbarr (O’Neill) was our goalie back then, great players on both sides.”
One of the county finals that he recalls was the 1977 final in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“There was over 40, 000 in the ground for that game. I believe 33,000 was in at the start but eight were locked out before they had to open the gates.
“Look it was a great rivalry but the respect for each other was equal. The Barrs’ Pa Finn, one of the finest people I have known was a very brave man.
“He married a girl from Blackpool, Nora O’Keeffe and he always gets a bit of banter about that.
“But they were great days, the Glen and Barrs is always special and next Saturday night’s clash will be too.
“it’s a pity that so few will be able to go and watch it but I believe it’s on TV and that will help.
“The Glen are going well again and the Barrs are starting to threaten seriously again. It should be a great game and maybe Patrick Horgan can make the difference for us again.”