The Leeside Legends series: Classy Condon perhaps Barrs' greatest hurler

The Leeside Legends series: Classy Condon perhaps Barrs' greatest hurler

Cork’s captain Seán Condon with the MacCarthy Cup after they beat Dublin in the 1944 All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park.

SEÁN CONDON was arguably the greatest hurler ever to wear the blue jersey of St Finbarr’s.

A serious statement considering how many greats how graced the pitch for the Blues, but a five-year minor with his club and a Cork captain during the golden period of the 1940s, he was a true Leeside Legend.

Condon was born in 1923 near Phair’s Cross in the heartland of the St Finbarr’s Hurling and Football club.

He attended the Presentation Brothers school in Greenmount better known as the College on the Hill — a school that groomed many stars of Cork hurling.

Condon played minor hurling for the Barrs for five years from 1937 to 1941 and he also won Minor football medals in 1940 and ’41.

Seán made his debut for the Barrs against Glen Rovers in the semi-final of the Cork Senior hurling championship as the legendary Christy Ring also made his debut in that game.

The Barrs were a powerful team at the time and Condon played a big part in their championship wins of 1942 and ’43.

St Finbarr’s, Cork County champions of 1942 and 1943. Condon is seated second row fourth from right.
St Finbarr’s, Cork County champions of 1942 and 1943. Condon is seated second row fourth from right.

Three in a row proved beyond St Finbarr’s as Glen Rovers denied them in the 1944 decider.

He later captained the 1946 and ’47 victorious Barrs teams to county championship success.

On the inter-county scene, Condon made his debut for the Cork senior hurling team against Kilkenny in 1942 when the counties clashed in a challenge game.

The performance given by Condon at centre-field with Jack Lynch was the highlight as Cork had unearthed a star of the future.

The selectors were impressed with his outstanding skills and a few weeks later Condon lined out against Limerick in the first round of the Munster championship and his two late points sealed a famous win for the Rebels on shannonside.

At that particular time Limerick had quality players like the Mackey’s — Mick and John, Jackie Power, Paddy Scanlon, and Peter Creagan and Cork had some great tussles with them over the years.

Cork won the All-Ireland that year and Seán followed that win with two more All-Ireland wins in 1943 and 1944.

Condon was relegated to the subs bench in 1946 but his determination saw him return the following year as captain.

Unfortunately, he was not to have a fairytale return and despite a mighty performance from the Barrs man, Cork were denied at the death.

The stakes were high for both sides as Cork were aiming for a sixth championship win in seven seasons while Kilkenny were aiming to avoid becoming the first team to lose three consecutive All-Ireland finals.

In what has been described as one of the greatest deciders of all time with little separating the teams over the hour.

A Joe Kelly goal put Cork ahead with time almost up, but two late Terry Leahy points sealed it for the Cats 0-14 to 2-7.

In the historic game against Tipperary in 1950, played in Killarney, Cork lost out to the Premier County despite Condon contributing nine points for the Rebels.

The Cork team defeated by Tipperary in 1950. Back: Sean Twomey, Tom Mulcahy, Paddy O’Donovan, Jerry O’Riordan, Mossie O’Riordan, Jack Lynch, John Thornhill, Mattie Fouhy, Jim Barry. Front: Con Murphy, Willie John Daly, Seán Condon, Christy Ring, Josie Hartnett, J J O’Brien, Seanie O’Brien.
The Cork team defeated by Tipperary in 1950. Back: Sean Twomey, Tom Mulcahy, Paddy O’Donovan, Jerry O’Riordan, Mossie O’Riordan, Jack Lynch, John Thornhill, Mattie Fouhy, Jim Barry. Front: Con Murphy, Willie John Daly, Seán Condon, Christy Ring, Josie Hartnett, J J O’Brien, Seanie O’Brien.

Condon proved his versatility when he was selected on the Cork Junior football team of 1951 that were crowned All-Ireland champions.

Seán’s career came to an abrupt end in November 1951 when he sustained an injury that brought the curtain down on his glittering career.

Condon always had a special affection for the Cork fans especially during the war years and the Rebel Army had to endure terrible hardships to see a Munster final during that period.

The Cork-based fans would cycle to Thurles while the Cork soldiers stationed at Templemore would walk the seven miles to Thurles to support their heroes and that was something Seán never forgot.

During those years the All-Ireland winners used to stop at Blarney and Blackpool on their way back to the city as the team would always get a tumultuous reception in both places.

Seán was a true athlete and the media loved his all-round skills as ‘Carbery’ once described him the Weekly Examiner.

“Young Condon’s fair locks shone in the sun and he drove three pucks in quick succession high over the bar.

“Condon is simply a pleasure to watch with his beautiful striking of the ball.”

Joe Kelly and Seán Condon in action for Cork.
Joe Kelly and Seán Condon in action for Cork.

Many of the old hurling stock pointed to Condon’s display in the 1946 county final against the Glen as his greatest ever in a Barrs jersey as the southside club won 2-3 to 2-1 as he contributed 1-3 of his team’s final tally.

The name of Seán Condon will forever be remembered in the history of Cork hurling as his death in 2001 was met with widespread sadness.

In the words of the dedicated St Finbarr’s supporters- A resting life to the gallant old Blue!

FACTFILE: 

Seán Condon was born near Phairs Cross on the Bandon Road and attended Presentation Brothers School in Greenmount.

Condon played five years as a minor with St Finbarr’s between 1937 and 1941.

Seán scored 1-3 out of his team’s final total of 2-3 in the 1946 Cork Senior championship hurling final as St Finbarr’s defeated Glen Rovers by two points.

He retired from playing in 1951 following an injury in a football game.

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