IN THE footballing stronghold of the Beara peninsula the game of hurling is well down the list of priorities.
In fact, it’s hardly played there at all, all the emphasis being on the big ball game.
However, back in the 70s, the picturesque village of Adrigole housed a hurling team that competed in the Carbery division.
Included in the team were two of the most celebrated footballers the division has ever produced, former Cork senior stars, Kevin Jer O’Sullivan and Bernie O’Neill.
Also on the team was Sean ‘Murty’ O’Sullivan who learned a lot of his trade in Farranferris, that great hurling academy on Cork’s northside that now sadly no longer exists.
He won a Harty Cup medal in Farna which was followed up with victory in the All-Ireland colleges final.
He has great memories of his hurling days.
“Yes, indeed. We had a hurling team in Adrigole back in the early ‘70s, we competed at junior ‘B’ level in the Carbery division and in 1973 we won the divisional title.
“We had a few outsiders on the team but primarily it was Adrigole based. Kevin Jer and Bernie O’Neill played on that team, we had Jerry ‘Ger’ O’Sullivan, Eddie ‘Jer’ O’Sullivan among others on the team.
“Mike Regan was the driving force behind the team and he had been one of the first students in the coaching college in Gormanston.
“He was the prime mover really, he was a great hurling man and he got us organised.”
According to Sean ‘Murty’, they were never going to be Cork hurlers but they derived a lot of enjoyment from playing the game.
“We did indeed, I remember that year in ’73, we beat Kilbree, Randal Óg and Skibbereen to win the South West championship.
“It was a nice achievement, a hurling team from Beara winning a championship. There’s no hurling down in Beara now, no teams but before I started playing, Adrigole were beaten in the first round of the county junior ‘B’ Championship by Inniscarra in 1968.
“There’s a story behind that game because it had to be postponed the first day up in the Mardyke because Donal Mullins, a great GAA man passed away before the game.
“It was re-fixed a week later and our junior football team was put down to play the same day in Ballingeary.
“They played first and the hurlers had to go straight after them with a lot of the same players. We got a bit of a hammering in the hurling game but that’s the way it was.
“Mike Regan lost the keys of his car as well and he had hurleys in it so we had to borrow hurleys from Inniscarra."
Sean ‘Murty’ became a boarder in Farna subsequently and it was there his hurling career blossomed.
“I played and was fortunate to win the Harty and All-Ireland as well as the O’Callaghan Cup with the team.
“We beat St Flannan’s in the Harty final and St Kieran’s in the All-Ireland final.
“The Canon (O’Brien) was coaching us that year and he was some man, a great motivator, someone who would get the best out of you.
“He was a good man to play mind games with a fella too to get more out of him but we had great times up there."
Adrigole won the Glengariff Festival tournament in 1973 too, defeating Bantry in the final and O’Shea remembers that game too.
“Yes, guess who refereed the game, Frank Murphy came down to do it and he was one of the top hurling referees in the country back then.”
O’Shea retains his passion for hurling up to this day and he makes no secret of the fact that if he had to choose between both codes, hurling would get the nod.
“I suppose it’s a bit unusual for someone from Adrigole saying that but I always had a great grá for hurling.
“I don’t get to as many games as I would like now but I’d always watch a hurling game on TV. I played minor for a while with Bandon and we lost a county final to the Glen, so I got around a bit.
“With the emphasis being so much on football, hurling was always a poor second in Beara but it’s nice to be able to say that you have a hurling medal with Adrigole.
“The main thing is that we enjoyed it, so did Kevin Jer and Bernie O’Neill and the rest of the lads who played, fellas like John D ‘Shea, Seanie ‘Butches’ O’Sullivan and Dick Kelly.’’ Current County Board PRO, Joe Blake is a native of Adrigole and he has heard a lot about that team.
“We did, people might laugh when you talk about hurling in Adrigole but those lads back then took it very seriously and we are proud of what they did.
“And they are proud of that medal that they won in the Carbery junior B championship.’’