Classic county hurling finals: UCC denied Muskerry the double in 1970

Classic county hurling finals: UCC denied Muskerry the double in 1970
Ray Cummins in action for Cork in the 1976 hurling All-Ireland. A Blackrock legend, he also won hurling and football counties with UCC.

GIVEN the array of talent that has passed through its corridors, it’s maybe hard to understand why UCC have been successful only twice in the Cork County SHC.

Of course, there are mitigating circumstances, players not being available at the height of the championship season, exams, club commitments and so.

The years 1963 and 1970 were the successful ones, the latter being now a half century ago. 

That UCC team featured players from Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Tipperary, future Cork stars like Pat McDonnell, Seamus Looney and Ray Cummins who were hugely prominent that season while Mick Crotty from Kilkenny and John Kelly from Tipperary won the All-Ireland with their counties. At that time your commitment was to the College over your club, which is why Cummins and Looney starred for UCC, before returning to great success with Blackrock and St Finbarr's after.

Mick Crotty and his brother Kieran in 2017. Picture: Pat Moore
Mick Crotty and his brother Kieran in 2017. Picture: Pat Moore

Nemo Rangers had three players on that UCC team, Jimmy Barrett, Noel Morgan and a very young goalkeeper in Jim Cremin.

In the final they defeated Muskerry and in doing so denied the Mid Cork division the double that year.

This week Cremin recalled to the Echo the achievement and his graduation to the number one spot on the Western Road outfit.

Nemo Rangers' Alan Cronin celebrating his City Division JAHC final Man of the Match award with trainer Jim Cremin after it was presented by Eoin Daly. Picture: Richard Mills.
Nemo Rangers' Alan Cronin celebrating his City Division JAHC final Man of the Match award with trainer Jim Cremin after it was presented by Eoin Daly. Picture: Richard Mills.

“I went from playing minor with Nemo into the team. Prior to that I won a Harty Cup medal with Críost Rí in 1968 when we stopped Limerick CBS doing five-in-a-row.

“When I went into the college I became secretary of the hurling club there and I remember that year we had Prof Finbarr Holland and Paddy Crowley, who owned a pub in Oliver Plunkett street, as selectors.

“We had Denis Leahy who was an army man as the physical trainer. We had a good team, no doubt about that and a lot of those players went on to win All-Ireland medals in Cork, Tipp and Kilkenny.

“Mick McCarthy from Na Piarsaigh was the captain and you had Seamus Looney, Ray Cummins, John Kelly from Tipperary, Mick Crotty from Kilkenny, Pat McDonnell going on to win the McCarthy Cup.

“What I can also remember from that year was that there was a major bank strike and the championship was played off fairly quickly.’’ Cremin recalls playing in front of huge crowds in the old Athletic Grounds.

“It was definitely a unique atmosphere down there. As a goalkeeper you had the crowd just right behind you and there was no protection for the goalkeeper in those days.

“You were totally dependent on your full-back line for protection and I was lucky that I had good men like Mick McCarthy, Pat McDonnell and Dr Paddy Crowley in front of me.

The 1976 Cork All-Ireland winning team party in jubilant mood on the train, including Pat McDonnell and Ray Cummins, county champions with UCC in 1970.
The 1976 Cork All-Ireland winning team party in jubilant mood on the train, including Pat McDonnell and Ray Cummins, county champions with UCC in 1970.

“I remember the dressing rooms in the Athletic Grounds and the cage in the middle of the field where you might get a belt of an umbrella going off at half-time.

“But there was always a great atmosphere there and I enjoyed playing down there but you had to be on your toes all the time trying to stay concentrated.

“I remember the morning of the final against Muskerry, I was involved with a minor team in Nemo and going from there down to playing in the final.

“We beat the Glen along the way and that gave us great belief and the spirit just grew in the camp.

“The final was close enough, the final score that I can recall was 2-12 to 0-16."

Always a Nemo stalwart at all levels, Cremin says that maybe he was too young to appreciate what had just transpired.

“I was and I think that night I was back playing around at home but it was great and you made great friends too from those days.

“We went on to win the Fitzgibbon Cup the following season in 1971 so to have won a county and have a Fitzgibbon medal at home is very nice.

“I went back to Nemo of course and we had a very good team then and we got to two senior county semi-finals.

“We got beaten by the Rockies in both semi-finals and we always and still do take our hurling in Nemo very serious.

“It’s great now to look back on those days and it was the camaraderie that is built up that’s so important, the friends for life.

“The college haven’t won the county hurling since so we still have that record."

Deirdre and Shane McCarthy, with Dr Paddy Crowley, cheering on Ballincollig's Cal McCarthy at the Cashman Cup.
Deirdre and Shane McCarthy, with Dr Paddy Crowley, cheering on Ballincollig's Cal McCarthy at the Cashman Cup.

The UCC team on that day 50 years ago against Muskerry was: 

Jim Cremin (Nemo Rangers); Mick McCarthy (Na Piarsaigh), Pat McDonnell (Inniscarra), Paddy Crowley (Newcestown); S Walsh (Kilkenny), S Looney (St Finbarr’s), John Kelly (Tipperary); Michael Murphy (Blackrock), Jimmy Barrett (Nemo Rangers); Tom Buckley (Glen Rovers), Mick Crotty (Kilkenny), Henry O’Sullivan (Inniscarra); Noel Morgan (Nemo Rangers), Ray Cummins (Blackrock), Willie Moore (Limerick).

The final scoreline that day was: UCC 2-12, Muskerry 0-16.

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